Edgar Allan Poe




Edgar Allan Poe :


Edgar Allan Poe was born near London on the 19th of January 1809. His mother was an actor and his father was a doctor. When Poe was 2 years old his father disappeared. His mother, who was seriously ill in tuberculosis, took Poe and his sister to Richmond - Virginia. Poe's mother died soon after this. The two siblings became then separated and Poe was taken care of by the wealthy family of the Allans.


Due to Mr. Allans work the family had to move to England, where they spent five years. In 1826 Poe started at THE UNIVERSITY OF VIRGINIA. Although he was a good student he didn't succeed due to his gambling, fighting and drinking. When Mr. Allan found out about this Poe had to finish school and start working in Mr. Allan's tobacco shop. After some time, Poe moved to Boston where he started publishing his small poems and short stories in newspapers. In 1827, Poe's first book TAMBERLANE AND OTHER POEMS came under the pseudonym of A BOSTONIAN.


These poems were very influenced by Byron and showed a youthful attitude. Later the same year he joined the army. He succeeded there and In 1829 he signed for an officer-training. This was the same year as he published his second book AL AARAAF - TAMBERLANE AND MINOR POEMS but this time under the name of Edgar A Poe. Before he left his training he got financial help from the other cadets to publish his third version of the book, although Poe called this book a second version. In this book there are famous poems as TO HELEN and ISRAFEL.


These poems show the musical effect that has come to characterize Poe's poems. Later Poe moved to Baltimore to live with his ant. There he married his cousin who was only 13 years old. Then Poe moved to New York to become famous, but with almost no success. Poe had after 1837 his best period with his greatest works as THE MURDERS IN THE RUE MORGUE (1841) and THE FALL OF THE HOUSE OF USHER (1839). Poe's wife passed away in 1847 and Poe took it hard. Yet he continued with his writing until he died the on 7th October 1849 by alcoholic poisoning. Edgar Allan Poe was mostly known for his analytic and criticizing analyses. It was them which gave him respect as a critic. Poe was influenced by the British 18th century's romantic horror short stories. That is why he wrote those.


He was also very influenced by Jules Verne - Rudyard Kipling and Conan Doyle. Especially their early works, before they had found their own style. Poe was fascinated by the mystical and the unknown. He was also interested in the human subconscious and why a human being reacts in a certain way at a certain time. His stories are often about dark castles and castle-ruins which often have secrets buried deep down in the walls where they have been for centuries…. Most likely in a moonlit desert landscape. Magical experiments and hypnosis play a big part in Poe's works. Many people think that Edgar Allan Poe was one of the first detective story writer with the short story THE MURDERS IN THE RUE MORGUE where the detective Monsieur Dupin solves a strange homicide case where a giant monkey is the murderer.


This short story is a bit different because there is for example a three-page laying out about algae and mosses in the story. Poe had a rhythmic and floating language in his texts and to show this. I have a couple of excerpts from the poem THE RAVEN. There are also examples of the mystical that often is found in Poe's productions.


The poem is written in four-stroke iamb.

THE RAVEN

Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping As of someone gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.


Ah…distinctly I remember it was in the bleak December And each separate dying ember wrought its ghost upon the floor Eagerly I wished the morrow vainly I had sought to borrow… From my books surcease of sorrow-sorrow for the lost Lenore For the rare and radiant maiden whom the angels name Lenore Nameless here for evermore And the silken, sad, uncertain rustling of each purple curtain thrilled me Filled me with fantastic terrors never felt before


“But the fact is I was napping, and so gently you came rapping, And so faintly you came tapping, tapping at my chamber door, That I scarce was sure I heard you"-here I opened wide the door- Darkness there and nothing more." “Back into the chamber turning, all my soul within me burning, Soon again I heard a tapping somewhat louder than before. "Surely," said I, "surely that is something at my window lattice; Open here I flung the shutter, when, with many a flirt and flutter, In their stepped a stately Raven of the saintly days of yore; Not the least obeisance made him… not a minute stopped or stayed he; Perched upon a bust of Pallas just above my chamber door Perched, and sat, and nothing more."


“Be that word our sign of parting, bird or fiend!" I shrieked, Upstarting "Get thee back into the tempest and the Night's Plutonian shore! Leave no black plume as a token of that lie thy soul hath spoken! Leave my loneliness unbroken! -- quit the bust above my door! Take thy beak from out my heart, and take thy form from off my door! Qouth the Raven, "Nevermore."


And the Raven, never flitting, still is sitting, still is sitting On the pallid bust of Pallas just above my chamber door; And his eyes have all the seeming of a demon that is dreaming, And the lamp-light o'er him streaming throws his shadow on the floor, And my soul from out that shadow that lies floating on the floor Shall be lifted-nevermore! "


I think this is a good poem. It is typical for Poe. When you read the poem you can directly feel the rhythm. The characterizing details are also in the poem. The moonlit landscape…. The unnatural….. The mood is also well hold up. It is really unpleasant and frightening. One can really feel the person sitting in his chair in a cottage somewhere. One is sitting and waiting for something to happen when there suddenly is a knock on the door... Nobody there. Nothing but the terrifying silence and the dark shadows. The poem is good and I assume that it is the mood that makes it worth reading.


I have also read the short story "The facts in the case of M. Valdemar". It's about a person who's friend is called Valdemar. Valdemar is very ill. He's got consumption. Valdemar's left lung is all clogged up and his right lung is almost in the same condition when we meet him. The main character (The person P--) wants to cure Valdemar by using mesmerism, a special sort of hypnosis. Valdemar is taken to P-- and the treatment is begun after Valdemar's approval. At the beginning Valdemar's condition is improving but after a while he falls into a coma-similar condition where the only words that Valdemar can say are that he is dead or that he wants to die. Valdemar dies in the end of the short story after being "sleeping" for seven months. In this short story we can find good examples of Poe's character. The person P-wants to use hypnosis to improve a dying man’s condition. Hypnosis is very typical for Poe. There is also a good atmosphere in this text. It's a bit spooky to read this short story, when the only thing one can hear is how ones brain is imagining Valdemar lying on his bed, dying, and the only sounds are Valdemar's rattling breathings and his attempts to communication. This short story is, like the poem "The Raven", good if I may say what I think.


I have also read the short story "The fall of the house of Usher" and I'm going to write about of it. I chose it because it's the most famous short story written by Poe and It is said that it is the best too.


The fall of the house of Usher

I've read "The fall of the house of Usher" by Edgar Allan Poe, It was written in 1839 and the main theme is horror. It's about a young man who is visiting his old friend from childhood who has become seriously ill. The man is staying there to keep his friend company and he is reading books to entertain the friend. One doesn't get to know the main character because he doesn't speak about himself. The only thing that is obvious is that he can ride but it's irrelevant. The old friend is called Roderick Usher. He is very nervous person when the young man arrives. He also got a hereditary decease that makes him extremely sensitive. He can only eat food with no or little taste, wear clothes of a certain cloth and the smell of flowers and sunlight makes him furious. He also got an abnormal regret. One doesn't get to know Roderick's sister either except that she is even more ill than Roderick. The house where the Ushers live is an old castle with grey and miss-coloured walls overgrown by moulds and mosses. But the house looked like it could stay up for several years from now because the walls hadn't begun falling apart. What one almost couldn't see was a fissure which made its way, from the roof, down the wall in zig-zag direction until it disappeared in the sullen waters of the moat . These early descriptions of the castle is important to build up the grey and sad atmosphere. The castle tells the reader that the people who live there aren't rich too. As I just said is that the atmosphere is built up by describing the castle that the young man arrives to.


Poe uses sentences like "I looked upon the scene before me-upon the mere house, and the simple landscape features of the domain-upon the bleak walls-upon the vacant eye-like windows-upon a few rank sedges-and upon a few white trunks of decayed trees...". But the description of Roderick is also helping to put together the impression with sentences like: "The silken hair, too, had been suffered to grow all unheeded, and as, in its wild gossamer texture, it floated rather than fell about the face." The whole story is about Roderick who has become isolated in his castle and there he has grown extreme sensitivity to senses. I think that Poe is trying to tell people that they shouldn't isolate themselves. They will then become like Roderick where the only thing that matters is his sister that passes away after some time. Along with that the sister dies, everything falls apart. I really mean fall apart then. Just after that the young man has left the house everything falls into pieces and it is suddenly obvious that the framework was weak although the house looked table.


I had major expectations when I started reading this short story and I was not disappointed. It was great. The atmosphere was very realistic and the story was good. The ending comes as a surprise. It isn't at all what one can expect. As the matter of fact I liked all the short stories that I have read that Poe has written. He is really a great horror-writer. Maybe the best. But Stephen King is also great.


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