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As a child, having received a book of simpler versions of Poe's tales, I enjoyed it immensely to the extent that they have stayed with me as I grew older. Knowing this, a friend of mine recently bought me this book as a present. The book contains various stories (all the most well known ones such as The Fall of The House Of Usher and my own personal favourite- The Masque Of The Red Death) as well as a few others. The book is a very reasonable price and a must-have for any fans of horror-fiction!
Although some of the stories can be a little hard to follow at times (due to the old-fashioned language- I know, I know, but nowadays it's a little difficult to decipher), it is well worth it for the gems that lie beneath it all. The stories and characters in partcular grip you and the author has a wonderful way of painting the scenery and imagery in your imagination.
For someone who is a fan of the genre, this is a nice little pocket-sized version of some of Poe's best work and well worth a look. :)
I have recently gone into higher education and joined a 6th form college at the secondary school I used to go to... I took up 3 different subjects which is ICT Maths and English. In my latter course I am to study 2 books and create a coursework piece that compares both books on the subject of villainy. The two books are "Selected Tales - Edgar Allan Poe" and "The Big Sleep - Raymond Chandler". I shall be doing the latter book review sometime soon, after I have done this one.
In order for our coursework to be at the level we are working on, we need to know background information on each of our authors, which is the bit that most annoys me as I really hate researching peoples lives especially if they are dead. Also trying to find the certain bits that are needed can be quite a struggle to find. I happen to find out about Edgar Allan Poe is that he married his 13 year old cousin called Virginia. His life was full of deaths; being passed onto one guardian to the next (reminds me a bit of a series of unfortunate events really). When he came round to writing his most famous novels, Virginia was very ill in hospital. And he was also a heavy drinker. As you can tell, I'm not a very good fact finder and to put them in order is a nightmare for me. Anyway I shall carry on with my review before I bore you all to death.
When I started this book, I had been thinking how I would go about setting this review out, knowing to myself that it would be hard to write a review when I may have forgotten a few of the most boring stories. I have done an anthology before (as many of you may remember, the anthology was: "Smoke & Mirrors - Neil Gaiman") and so I got the book out, where I kept my latest anthology reviews, and did the same. This means that at this current moment, I have a book staring up at me with the title of each story inside this anthology, and my short little review on each story. These little reviews were written straight after I had read that short story. So sometimes I was reading well into the night, and so I may, now, come across constant errors and so as I type each little review up onto here, I shall make sure all the errors will be perfect, I hope... So here's my review on each story...
This is the first thing you come across, however it is incredibly boring, and I felt like I was falling asleep. This introduction felt the same as Neil Gaiman's introduction to "Smoke & Mirrors" because there were references to the stories inside and explaining them to us before we had even read them. This really should be at the end of the book! I really hope all the other anthologies I come across will be not have the same sort of introductions.
Note on the text
This isn't really for us, I reckon it's for copyright purposes and people who are fans of Edgar Allan Poe, seriously, why do we need to know that the person who did this changed a few words so there wouldn't be any spelling or grammatical mistakes?
As usually bibliography is always boring and this appears as the next-in-line in this book and we really don't need it, why they didn't put it at the end, beats me.
A Chronology of Edgar Allan Poe
This was weird but interesting. It was basically a short timeline of his life. I have never read anything set out that way and I'd need time to get used to that layout.
MS. Found in a Bottle
To start off with, the title gives away nothing about the story. Maybe the "MS." does, as I don't know what it means, I think it means some sort of letter, but I could be wrong. This title is only mentioned once. I thought I wouldn't like this one as I had just read Edgar Allan Poe's life, so I still had him in mind, but he quickly disappeared and I was left stranded, not sure which way the story would turn. I also noticed I read quicker & quicker so it did draw me in. But the Asterisk and the "Extended notes" annoyed me as there are far too many pauses. And every single extended note is at the back of the whole book, why can't they put them at the bottom in numbers like they do now? This will be a recurring theme in this book. Not exactly what I expected! 4/5
My teacher was saying that this story was gruesome and that it was horrible but I've read worse! It wasn't exactly written as well as the first. I take back what I said bout the asterisks as there's a number 1 (really small, as they usually are) in this story but they still should have done as I suggested!
*LEARNT IN CLASS*
we learnt that it was about someone dying and then her husband rips out her teeth so that he can remember her, only he forgets his done such a thing! 3/5
This made no sense to me and I didn't understand it at all! 1/5
I have now read this one story twice and I think I'll be reading it in class sometime soon. This one I don't quite understand. I faze in and out now and again, and half way through I actually fell asleep, however the bits I understood were good so I give it....... 2.5/5
The Man that was messed up
After three not so good stories, one brilliant and suspenseful one comes along! YAY!!!!!!!!!!!!! This must be hard of Edgar Allan Poe to write because he had to come up with the interruptions and I think he was on the stuck side when the main character and a few minor characters were at the theatre. I really enjoyed this one and I am looking forward to reading it in English class (I inevitably didn't read it in class, as we only read a few of the stories.) 4.5/5
The Fall of the House of Usher
This made no sense to me and I can't be bothered to re-read it, I probably will during class though.
*LEARNT IN CLASS*
The lesson after I had read this, the teacher asked to put up our hands if we've read this story, I stupidly did so and ended up being the only one, and I also had to tell the basic outline of the story; however I hadn't understood it and therefore knew nothing about it. The teacher tutted and then told the whole class what it was about. I re-read it twice more in class and it still didn't make any sense. Apparently it's about the house of Usher which is haunted. But you could re-write this whole story into a page (maybe less than that), still fitting in all the specific aspects. This story is just a page full of words to me! 0.5/5
This story is linked with 2 things... 1) William Wilson can be considered as Edgar Allan Poe in the first few pages. 2) It can be linked to schizophrenia as that is basically what's being described but was schizophrenia around in those days? And if not, Edgar Allan Poe made a good description of the symptoms. Another story that included a mental illness, a recurring theme in this book 4/5
The Man of the Crowd
This story was clever but lost a bit on the second to last page, however I got back on track and understood, but that doesn't mean I liked the story....... It was about the narrator following an old man (talk about invading someone's privacy!) round and round for about a day and in which the narrator learned nothing more. To put it simply, it was weird like many of the other stories. 3/5
The Murders in the Rue Morgue
This made a change... Finding a long short story that I actually liked. It's very common of me to enjoy the 5-8 pages long sort of short stories, but this one was 31 pages long which is probably the longest story in this book. This story was really good, though I don't see the point of the few pages which was about strategy in games such as chess and draughts (more commonly known nowadays as checkers). Then it finally got some sort of storyline otherwise I would have gotten lost. It was basically a detective story in which the villain was very clever in leaving no clues (or should that be clew as it was written in the book). It was intriguing to see who would be pinpointed for the murders, and it was surprising how the detective: Dupin, worked everything out. The first few pages have knocked my overall rating down just a tiny bit. 4.5/5
Eleonora was a weird story, it sounded as if she died for him and he ended up sad and guilty, but I could be wrong as I found it boring and didn't quite understand 1.5/5
The Masque of the Red Death
The title in itself was cleverly thought out. The Red Death is a fictional disease and it just talks about it. I found this unappealing and I found it boring also. 2/5
The Pit and the Pendulum
This one was boring, when I've said this before, I meant it as the story was just words, this one follows this concept to a degree, but isn't sorted right, and it's pretty confusing. 1/5
The Mystery of Marie Rogêt
I was looking forward for this story as it was the sequel of "The Murders in the Rue Morgue"; but God it was soooooooo boring! It took me 5 days to complete this one short story and I don't have a clue that anything happened all I know is that a girl called Marie Rogêt died and was found floating in a river, but then appeared much later on, alive. I never understood the ending, and what really got me was on pages such as 176 "elopement" was repeated about 9 times, and it was the same (but different words) on other pages such as page 177 the word "suspicion" was repeated too many times. This may be the reason why most of the short stories seem to be just words on a page! 1.5/5
A Tell-Tale Heart
We first read this one in class, so here's what I've learnt in class, before I actually got round to reading it:
*LEARNT IN CLASS*
We learnt that the story line is about someone confessing about a murder in which he cut him up and his him under the floor boards
*WHAT I THOUGHT WHEN I READ IT*
I enjoyed this story, it was about a man who killed an old man because of the old man's evil eye (apparently) and chopped him up and hid him under the floorboards. It was a nice short story with a quick pace. I know this because there were a lot of short sentences. 3/5
This story was about a golden bug (well we would call it a scarab). And how someone found treasure thanks to this golden bug. Again, the common theme of being a bystander elicited in this story; I felt it was a good story, with reference to madness (another common theme)... But I got bored in the middle when he was explaining how he solved the middle! 4/5
The Black Cat
I have read this twice now, the first time I got lost somewhere along the way, but towards the end I came back; it was such a good, unexpected ending, it made me re-read the story to understand it. This story was about a cat that was affectionate to the narrator, but the narrator ended up hating the cat and violently committing horrible acts to the cat, and when he's killed "the beast" it returns. The story goes on with a brilliant dramatic ending! I am now using this story as my comparison against the other book linking it in with villainy... 3.5/5
A tale of the Ragged Mountains
This is weird and very confusing because we are told the tale of the Ragged Mountains, but then it carries on making the whole story uneven. It should just be kept with the tale about the Ragged Mountains, rather than expanding the story. I don't know what to make of this, the tale of the Ragged Mountains was okay, but the expansion has let it down! 2/5
The Purloin Letter
Oh no! Not another Dupin story! This starts off complicated with the word 'odd' being repeated too many times. However the story lightens up, with, what we would call the ending, in the middle! So that Dupin can tell us how he did it at the end, I hope that makes sense! A good story but boring explanation! 4/5
The System of Doctor Tarr and Professor Fefther
This is the longest title in the book, but the title doesn't represent the story! It didn't make much sense; it was about a load of mad people who were slaves to people who were curing them (apparently) but these "curers" were turning mad as well! It wasn't very good 1.5/5
The Imp of the Perverse
Personally, I would link this with "the Fall of the House of Usher" because both stories was just words to me and I bet the person in my English class would say, again, that it seemed like Edgar Allan Poe had dipped into a thesaurus and wrote any words down, this is one of the worst stories in this book. 0/5
The Cast of Armontillado
This is ONE annoying story, it first captures your interest at the start, especially when you work out that armontillado is an alcoholic drink. And they're on a quest, but in the middle of this story, you pan out, making the story seem like words on a piece of paper. And then you pan back in at the end, which makes this story annoying as you are unsure of what has happened 1.5/5
The Domain of Arnheim
I cannot believe a second story has popped up that is worthy of "the most boring story ever written" award. It was just a pile of words about a rich man, an artist or poet, got confused and bored 0/5
What a sweet little children's story. I was going to rate it a 5 but I lost it half-way through. It was about revenge on the King and his councillors who bullied a dwarf. So the dwarf got his own back. Good on him! 4.5/5
Von Kempelen and his Discovery
This one made a lot of nonsense, where was this discovery? It was a short and boring story 1/5
These really annoyed me with the fact that they were at the end of the book, making me flip backwards and forwards, so annoying!
Overall this wasn't a good book, and obviously I didn't enjoy it at all, and I really recommend you not to go near this book, and if you pick it up and think it would be a good book, then you haven't thought clearly enough! I don't want to read this again, but I have to as it is part of my English coursework, I just cannot wait until after January, and then I will not need to read it any longer.