Since Halloween, I’ve been rehearsing to bring here one of my favourite authors in this world: Edgar Allan Poe. Since the special today is towards books, I finally decided to make this post about him!
Certainly you must have heard about Allan Poe around: writer of gothic tales, always on the themes of mistery and horror, Allan Poe is one of the most known authors in the genre, even considered the father of detective fiction.
His life, however, is very tumultuous and contradictory – I’ve read a lot about him, but I must say everything is as misterious as his works. That’s because most of the things are speculation or has “it’s not really known” attached to it.
I can’s say it isn’t expected from a writer like him.
Once not everyone knows Allan Poe’s works – or was only introduced to a short story or something like it during school – I also decided to make a little list of the short stories I personally consider a must read from the author! That way, if you always wanted to start reading, but never knew from where to start, I give you some tips of the short stories that might interest you the same way it interested me!
Our raven will follow us all the way while the train from the lunar station will follow the misterious and dark works of Allan Poe. Don’t forget to note the reading tips!
After All, Who Was Edgar Allan Poe?
Born in January 19, 1809 in Boston, USA, Egar Allan Poe was a writer, poet, editor and literary critic. Son of David and “Eliza” Poe, his father abandoned the family from the start and his mother died right after, being that John and Frances Allan adopted, informally, the orphan boy.
Living in a rather tumultuous manner, Allan Poe presented drugs and alcohol issues, besides of some gambling addictions, that made him constantly in debt and stopped him to follow his studies – and in constant fights with John Allan.
Another very controverse point of the writer’s life is the fact he married Virginia Clemm – Allan Poe’s cousin and, at the time, 13 years old. There’s still a lot of debate about it – specially about the nature of the marriage and how they treated each other – but we have to admit that a thing like that is at least inacceptable. Nothing justifies marrying a child, please, let’s be concious. I love his work, but I can’t endorse this.
Besides that, from what has been told and letters, Virginia actually loved Edgar and some say their love was more platonic than anything else (be how it was, I still think it’s weird). At 24, though, Virginia died of tuberculosis – which many believe to be the influence to constant references to death and mourning on the writer’s work.
Apart from the horror works with goth themes, Allan Poe was responsible for creating Auguste Dupin: with his first apparition on The Murders of Rue Morgue, he is considered the first detective of fiction works and even the starter of works on the same genre: meaning, Auguste Dupin might be taken as the inspiration to the creation of Sherlock Holmes (another love of my life, but let’s leave that to another post).
Allan Poe died on October 7, 1849, in still misterious circumstances: we don’t know what was the cause of that, what is known is that the writer was found delirious in Baltimore and taken to the hospital, dying while saying incoherent things. With his history with alcoholism, many said this was the cause of Allan Poe’s death. But, to this day, what happened remains a mistery.
5 Must Reads For Those Who Want to Know the Author!
Now we know a little bit more about him, I’ll introduce you some works I think it’s an imperative read for those who want to get to know him!
But disclaimer: this is my personal opinion! I won’t list only because it’s famous or not, I’ll list those that efectivelly marked me and I think will get the attention and interest of someone who will start reading Allan Po’s works – even getting interested in reading longer and “heavier” works, like The Raven, one of the most famous poems of the writer, in the future.
From starters, though, I want to leave here the suggestion of reading The Murders on Rue Morgue. I am hopelessly in love with Sherlock Holmes and I have so many short story books on the detective I lost count, but the first adventure of Dupin didn’t get that much of my attention – again, personal taste here. I think there are many other more interesting short stories, but if you’re curious in reading about the detective that inspired Conan Doyle, I think it’s worth it!
With that, let’s go to our today’s list!
The Black Cat
From 1845, probably the first short story I’ve read from Allan Poe and one of the first a lot of people must’ve read. A tale about murders, alcoholism and guilt, The Black Cat grows in seriousness and insanity of its main character, until ending with a plot twist that, for those who don’t know it, certainly will be guarded in memory.
On the story, a man and his wife, who always liked animals, take care of a black cat named Pluto – which, as a curiosity, is the name of the Roman god of death, corresponding to Hades on Greek mythology – but, as time goes by, the man stars losing reason because of the alcohol and starts seeing Pluto with a new gaze that takes him to terrible consequences.
The Tell-Tale Heart
Another absurdly classic tale? Yes!
You can already notice murders, guilt and insanity are recurring themes on Allan Poe’s works. And it’s exactly what we have on this short story from 1843! With unexpected twists at the end of the stories, the writer has a great way of increasing the feeling of dread – and lunacy from his characters – gradually until getting to an ending that will give us chills and make us want to read everything againg to see what we missed the first time.
Telling the story of a man who is hired to take care of an eldery man with a glass eye, we follow the main character – and narrator – slowly descending into madness, getting increasingly bothered with the man he should take care of, specially with his glass eye as mentioned above. The ending will certainly be marking, being a classic of works about guilt.
You can find it to read online here: The Tell-Tale Heart
In 1835, the writer brought us another tale about madness and obsession. This time, set in a ghostly manner and surrounded by death. But that isn’t the only thing that contributes to this eerie feeling while reading it: loneliness is what causes us a discomfort that grows, as does the insane obsession from the narrator.
Oh, Berenice, Berenice… The main character is her cousin and soon both will get married, but Berenice starts decaying because of a disease (I think we’ve seen it before, right?). Her fianceé, however, gets impressed with her teeth, that seem to be intact. And from that observation, arises a terrible obsession – which will make the ending leave the reader with that “I can’t believe this happened” expression.
If you want to have this marking experience, you can read it here: Berenice
The Cask of Amontillado
Vengeance is the main theme of this 1846 short story – and Allan Poe makes that very clear right at the first lines of the tale. He already catches us by surprise with fast character development and an impending ending that you don’t believe it’ll actually happen.
The main character of this short story talks about the process of his revenge against Fortunato – to whom he profusely dislikes, but builds a perfect plan and executes if in a cold and calm manner throughout the story, leaving us with a certainly terrifying ending.
NOW what made me consider this tale a lot and put it into this list of marking stories, was the fact that it inspired – even if just the idea or as a spiritual predecessor – the short story Come Watch the Sunset, by Brazilian writer Lygia Fagundes Telles.
Really. REALLY. Come Watch the Sunset is BY FAR one of my favourite short stories and wow how wonderful it is! After all, what can go wrong in meeting your ex-boyfriend who wants to show you something in a deserted cemetery at the light of the ending of the afternoon, cradled by the sunset? PLEASE, read this incredible masterpiece! I’ve translated below so you can enjoy it!
Here are both of them for reading!
Never Bet The Devil With Your Head
Also known as A Tale With a Moral, published in 1841, it’s a satire that, back then, served as a criticism of transcendentalism – a philosophical thought that believes on inherent goodness of people and nature.
The tale was to be nothing more. But, knowing Poe and the plot twists he loves, you start to feel a little uncomfortable with how the main character likes to say “I bet the Devil with my head” every time before making a gamble. And he gambles absolutely everything at all times. You just have to wait until the time something will go wrong.
And, of course, a little “moral” at the end of the story.
You can read this short story here: Never Bet The Devil With Your Head
Of course, there are many other things on his writing history! Allan Poe is also known for his poetry, having a vast reading material to those who are interested in it!
I hope those tips are good for those who want to start reading Allan Poe’s tales and, for those who already know it, are there any other stories you’d include in this list? What was the one that stayed with you the most?