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The Fall of the House of Usher and Other Writings (Penguin Classics) [Paperback]

Edgar Allan Poe , Harland Miller , David Galloway
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
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Book Description

27 Mar 2003 Penguin Classics

The Fall of the House of Usher and Other Writings is a collection that displays the full force of Edgar Allen Poe's mastery of both Gothic horror and the short story form. This Penguin Classics edition is edited with an introduction and notes by David Galloway.

This selection of Poe's critical writings, short fiction and poetry demonstrates his intense interest in aesthetic issues, and the astonishing power and imagination with which he probed the darkest corners of the human mind. 'The Fall of the House of Usher' is a slow-burning Gothic horror, describing the final hours of a family tormented by tragedy and the legacy of the past. In 'The Tell-Tale Heart', a murderer's insane delusions threaten to betray him, while stories such as 'The Pit and the Pendulum', 'The Raven' and 'The Cask of Amontillado' explore extreme states of decadence, fear and hate.

In his introduction David Galloway re-examines the myths surrounding Poe's life and reputation. This edition includes a new chronology and suggestions for further reading.

Although dissipated in his youth and plagued by mental instability towards the end of his life, Boston-born Edgar Allan Poe (1809-49) had a variety of occupations, including service in the US army and magazine editor, as well as his remarkable literary output.

If you enjoyed The Fall of the House of Usher, you might like Horace Walpole's The Castle of Otranto, also available in Penguin Classics.

'The most original genius that America has produced'

Alfred, Lord Tennyson

'Poe has entered our popular consciousness as no other American writer'

The New York Times Book Review

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Product details

  • Paperback: 560 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics; Rev Ed edition (27 Mar 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0141439815
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141439815
  • Product Dimensions: 19.7 x 2.5 x 13.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 42,211 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Edgar Allan Poe was born in Boston in 1809, the son of itinerant actors who left him an orphan in 1811. He became a ward of Richmond merchant John Allan and from 1815 to 1820 lived with the family in London. Upon his return, Poe received schooling in Richmond before attending the University of Virginia for a year. In 1827, he clashed with Allan and left for Boston, where he joined the army and published a slender volume, Tamerlane and Other Poems. He later attended the US Military Academy until his dismissal in 1831. The poet moved to Baltimore and began writing for magazines in 1832: three years later he secured a position with the Southern Literary Messenger in Richmond and married his cousin, Virginia Clemm. Relocating in New York, Poe endured great hardship but in 1838 published his only novel, The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym. In October 1849, he collapsed in Baltimore and died in hospital.

Product Description


"Poe's work as a whole is a series of haunting improvisations on themes from the macabre that are hard to categorise, dazzlingly original and posthumously influential on an extraordinary range of writers from Baudelaire and RL Stevenson to Yeats, Wilde and Borges" (Observer)

"His work continues to enthral. His greatest tales (The Fall of the House of Usher, The Tell-Tale Heart, The Pit and the Pendulum) radiate a dark humour and mockery that strike an oddly modern note" (Sunday Times)

"If genius is an exceptional capacity for imaginative creation, Poe had it in spades" (Daily Mail)

"His reputation as a master of the grotesque and macabre has veiled the real cause of his fame: an astonishing mastery of language and literary technique which made Arthur Ransome, himself no mean story technician and a considerable literary critic, liken his stories to rare coloured goblets or fantastic metalwork" (Independent) --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

Book Description

'The most original genius that America has produced' Alfred, Lord Tennyson --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars
4.1 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Once upon a midnight dreary ... 20 Jan 2007
Great stuff - it's hard to believe that Poe's short stories were written in the first half of the 19th century. They are superbly modern, even postmodern, in their claustrophobic obsession with mystery, darkness, death and decay, madness, cruelty and torture. Poe is a master stylist, a superb writer of English, and all the stories are compact and totally consistent in atmosphere and tone.

As another reviewer mentions, this collection also inlcudes the detective stories about M. Dupin, solving the mysteries of "The Murders in the Rue Morgue" and "The Purloined Letter". These are masterpieces of short fiction, while "The Black Cat" and "The Tell-tale Heart" are truly horrific. Other stories are more gothic - "Ligeia" and "The Fall of the House of Usher", while "The Pit and the Pendulum", "The Masque of the Red Death" and "The Cask of Amontillado" are compact, dense tales of medieval cruelty, torment and horror.

Also included in this edition are some poems ("The Raven" is a particular highlight) and some of Poe's non-fiction writing - magazine articles, theatre and book reviews.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Do not download. Terrible quality. 25 Dec 2010
By ZB1200
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Terrible quality kindle book. Looses all text about 35% of the way through. Disappointing to say the least.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Half empty 26 Jan 2011
By A Customer
Format:Kindle Edition
The text is messed up or badly formatted and an utter mess at almost half way through and continues that way to the last nearly blank page.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Perfect Introduction 16 Sep 2001
Format:Mass Market Paperback
This a collection of the best writings of Poe, featuring all of the most well known works such as the Raven.
It is an ideal introduction to the works of one of the greatest poet/story writers ever.
A great value for money book, and as I said, the perfect introduction.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic Writing 23 Mar 2002
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Edgar Allan Poe was perhaps the greatest American short story writer in our history. He is a surrealist and a subtle master of the pyschological thriller. In fact, it was Poe who created the Detective/Mystery genre, and it was he from whom Sir Author Conan Doyle drew his inspiration for Sherlock Holmes.
Poe, however, reaches his peek when he is telling a tale of madness and horror. My absolute favorite Poe tale is The Fall Of The House Of Usher. Also, the Pit And The Pendulum is an excellent read.
And, as has been stated, this book is an excellent primer for all would be Poe enthusiasts.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
By Sam Quixote TOP 50 REVIEWER
Edgar Allan Poe is a writer whose reputation rests solely upon a handful of short stories and a poem; there are very few writers in the Western canon, or anywhere really, where this is the case. There's usually a novel that they're famous for and while Poe wrote a novel "The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym", it isn't particularly good and doesn't hold up to the short stories.

But what stories they are! They're all filled with madmen, murder, jealousy, betrayal, revenge, magic, death, hatred, ghosts, haunted mansions, talking dead, hypnotists, and jesters - all the elements that went on to make up the horror genre that exists today. Poe is the grandfather of horror whose imagery still captures peoples' imaginations today.

The creepy old man with the one large eye in "Tell-tale Heart" whose still-beating dead heart drives his murderer insane; crazy Roderick Usher who sits in his crumbling mansion haunted by his dead sister's ghost; the figure of death who intrudes upon a prince's party in a locked up castle while all among the countryside reigns the Red Death; the nightmarish swinging pendulum; the living death of "M. Valdemar"; the sweet revenge of "Cask of Amontillado"; the immolated bullies of "Hop-Frog"; the murderous doppelganger of "William Wilson"; and the early template for the detective stories of later years in "Murders in the Rue Morgue", "Mystery of Marie Roget" and "Purloined Letter" - these are all first class stories that hold up superbly today.

The appeal of these captivating stories goes hand in hand with knowledge of Poe's own tortured life that contained numerous instances of heart-ache, loneliness, and loss, tinged with addiction to alcohol and drugs, and a mysterious death that remains unexplained to this day.
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