Edgar Allan Poe was one of many all-time most creative and versatile authors in American literature. He was additionally one of many first U.S. writers to help himself via his writing. Born Edgar Poe in Boston in 1809, after his father left his household and his mom died, he was raised primarily in Richmond, Virginia, by the Allan household. He died in Baltimore in 1849 at age 40 from causes which are nonetheless unclear.
Poe’s tales convey in a couple of pages what some writers take tons of of pages to inform. They include wordplay and symbolism but in addition anticipate extra lifelike writers like Fyodor Dostoevsky. Earlier than the formal subject of psychology existed, Poe’s tales explored guilt, paranoia, delusions, and obsessions. Poe helped create the overlapping moods and genres of horror, thriller, historic fiction, slipstream, and science fiction and fantasy as we all know them as we speak.
Identified primarily as a literary critic in his lifetime, Poe labored for a number of literary journals. In contrast to many different 19th century writers, Poe thought that fiction ought to by no means be didactic or moralizing. His principle and fiction helped outline the brief story as a type.
You should buy Poe’s Quick Tales at bookstores, and most can be found to learn without spending a dime on-line at Challenge Gutenberg and different websites.
Sources disagree on what number of works of fiction Poe wrote, though most estimate it was at the very least 70 or 80. For January 19, 2022, the 213th anniversary of his beginning, here’s a rating of ten of his finest tales.
The High 10 Poe Tales, Ranked
1. “The Inform-Story Coronary heart”
One in every of his shortest tales, that is the quintessential Poe story in some ways. It concisely showcases his recurring parts of guilt, paranoia, homicide, and unnamed narrators rationalizing their actions. The murdered man’s coronary heart beating via the floorboards is one among Poe’s creepiest, most iconic photographs, blurring the road between psychological and supernatural horror.
2. “The Cask of Amontillado”
The protagonist, Montressor, lures his acquaintance, Fortunato, right into a wine cellar that’s truly a crypt. He then partitions him up and leaves him inside to die. Montressor is one among Poe’s most terrifying and unreliable narrators. We by no means even study “the thousand accidents” or ultimate “insult” that Fortunato dedicated in opposition to Montressor within the first place. Poe’s grim humorousness is underrated, however his characters usually have ironic names. Fortunato means lucky in Italian.
3. “The Fall of the Home of Usher”
Dr. Oliver Tearle described this story as a gothic novel condensed into a brief story. It accommodates many hallmarks of gothic literature from earlier than and after Poe: decay, aristocracy, and an outdated home with household secrets and techniques, together with incest. Guillermo del Toro’s horror movie Crimson Peak and Silvia Moreno-Garcia’s novel Mexican Gothic are wonderful current takes on gothic fiction that share some key parts with this story.
4. “The Pit and the Pendulum”
This story makes its suspense and hazard appear speedy to each the narrator and readers. In the course of the Inquisition in Europe centuries earlier, the unnamed narrator is trapped in a cell between two equally perilous types of torture: the pit and the scythe-like, swinging pendulum blade. Its nightmarish imagery takes outdated cliches like being caught in a crucible, or between a rock and a tough place, and realizes them, each actually and metaphorically.
5. The Masque of the Crimson Dying
Throughout a extremely contagious epidemic, the Crimson Dying, callous, artistic Prince Prospero and his mates throw a lavish masquerade ball. They appear oblivious to the hazard and their very own privilege — after which the Crimson Dying personified exhibits up. Right now, folks both return to this story or discover it too on-the-nose through the COVID-19 pandemic.
6. “The Murders within the Rue Morgue”
There’s debate as as to whether Poe’s character Auguste Dupin was the primary fictional detective. Whereas Poe might not have coined the phrase “detective,” he influenced all the thriller style, together with Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes. Dupin later appeared in two extra Poe tales: “The Thriller of Marie Rogêt” and “The Purloined Letter.” With Dupin, Poe established many conventions of detective tales. These embody a non-public investigator, impartial from the police division, who makes use of logical reasoning to resolve crimes.
7. The Oval Portrait
A painter attracts his spouse’s life pressure right into a portrait of her, killing her. This eerie story performs on historical myths of mirrors and work capturing the topics’ souls. Some critics think about this story a attainable affect on Oscar Wilde’s Victorian novel The Image of Dorian Grey.
8. “The Untimely Burial”
The narrator has a phobia of being buried alive, and he describes supposedly true examples of this phenomenon. Within the early 1800s, this may have been an affordable concern, because it was theoretically attainable and infrequently occurred. Poe used completely different takes on stay burial in different tales, together with “The Fall of the Home of Usher” and “The Cask of Amontillado.”
9. “The Man of the Crowd”
An nameless observer in a crowd turns into fascinated with a stranger and follows him. This brief story is commonly taught alongside poet Charles Baudelaire’s description of a flâneur or loafer. As all the time, Poe’s skill to create suspense and his data of historical past, Greek, and French make the story memorable. Each Poe and Baudelaire described writers as avid observers of life.
10. “The Black Cat”
Typically paired with “The Inform-Story Coronary heart,” this story options one other unnamed, unreliable, and violent narrator. He escalates from animal abuse to homicide and is actually and figuratively haunted by his actions. As ordinary with Poe, the anomaly makes it even creepier. We’re uncertain whether or not something supernatural happens or if we will imagine something the narrator says.
Edgar Allan Poe started writing poetry as a young person, and his poems are simply as fascinating and enduring as his tales. His most well-known poems embody The Raven, Annabel Lee, and “Lenore.” His essential principle consists of “The Poetic Precept,” printed posthumously and compiles a number of of his literary principle lectures.
Poe’s affect is in every single place in twentieth and twenty first century fiction, from Modernism to the twist endings of The Twilight Zone and Black Mirror. Horror films with victims trapped in torture chambers are influenced by “The Pit and the Pendulum.” The trendy thriller, significantly ones with confessions or narration by murderers, are additionally influenced by Poe’s tales. In 2019, Ebook Riot printed an inventory of some examples of Poe references in popular culture, together with The Simpsons Treehouse of Horror. In Home of Salt and Sorrows, a 2019 YA gothic horror novel and fairytale retelling by Erin A. Craig, a number of character names reference Poe and his characters.
Can’t get sufficient of Poe’s tales and poems? Take a look at these songs impressed by Edgar Allan Poe and His Hideous Coronary heart, a YA anthology of Poe retellings edited by Dahlia Adler.