Entire Tales & Poems of Edgar Allan Poe: Photographic & Annotated Edition Hardcover – 1 Feb 2006
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Top customer reviews
Even if you're not bothered about the annotation, the typography in Barger's edition looks pretty ugly to me, so do have a look on 'Search Inside' if you're thinking of buying it.
Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
I cried with side-splitting laughter, and I mean it--tears rolled down my cheeks--as Poe indulged in some of his unfettered skewerings. "Some Words with a Mummy" took me off-guard because the mummy topic's so hackneyed in gothic fiction, and what do I care about mummy stories, but this hysterical poke at post-industrial hubris is delivered with all the comedic sophistication and might of Dostoevsky and Melville. Speaking of Dostoevsky, I found possible influences throughout Poe's writing, which I'd previously not read in such totality. For example, "The Pit and the Pendulum" begins with "I was sick" versus "I'm a sick man" in "Notes from Underground," and many evocations of darkness, wit, parody and the soul echo Dostoevsky's work.
Poe's rivals deserved ridicule, too. While reading Editor Andrew Barger's notes, I became struck by the savagery of Hiram Fuller and Thomas English, who inspired the entirely appropriate and beautifully aimed response, "The Cask of Amontillado." Poe strayed off the ranch of good manners himself, at times, but he redeemed himself I gather through steadfast a devotion to his Muse. The literary comparison's clear: Thomas English who? I also recommend checking out Poe's clever and still-relevant poem, "Epigram for Wall Street."
A few words about this edition. It's a huge volume, dimensionally, and as noted here in the Amazon reviews, the print's tiny. At the same time, if you can read font that resembles the lower-half lines of an eye chart--and fortunately, I can--this layout rewards you because the short stories, thusly reduced in number of pages, seem shorter. Barger's footnotes and commentaries are excellent, and the breadth of offerings, from letters to poems to published works, is exceptional.
I only wish Poe'd written more. As Barger shrewdly observes, Poe's delight with the role of critic did crowd out time that was perhaps better spent writing, and this imperiled the famous author's stature in the continuum of world literature--apparently a subject of interest to Poe. Yet ranking great literature's probably silly, so I won't go there.
This book has not only the complete works, it has background interesting to the scholar or student; there is much background on the women to whom he wrote poetry. Stories are annotated, there are photos, and a very worthy foreward by Andrew Barger. While not a dry, heavily researched treatise, this book is a valuable reference and study on the entire works of Poe and if you were going to get a collected works of Poe, I'd recommend this above all others.
My only criticisms; I would have liked to have had a really in-depth biographical section and...the print is very small. While the volume is quite handy in size, the print for my (middle-aged) eyes is just hard to read, even with ye olde bifocals to read for pleasure. And I intend to re-read this book with much pleasure. It's plain after all these years that Poe is one of our greats, and deserves to be read and read often.
Poe was a tormented genius who died young, under mysterious circumstances, and at the time of his death he wasn't deservingly popular. Certainly his work was not cute romances for the masses -- he explored the darkness of the human heart, love, satire, and the earliest whodunnit stories. And "Complete Stories and Poems of Edgar Allan Poe" brings together all of his poetry and writings in one book.
Poe's fiction writings include short stories and novellas, which tend to be rather weird -- a treasure-hunt and a golden insect, a ship caught in a whirlpool, a hypnotized man talks about the universe, and stories of despair, madness, and occasionally beauty. There is also his trilogy of Monsieur C. Auguste Dupin stories, which were the first to feature a brilliant detective solving an impossible crime.
Most people know about "The Raven" (which even has the Baltimore Ravens named after it) but Poe actually wrote a lot of poetry, most of which readers never heard of. Sometimes dark, or whimsical, or even both. "By a route obscure and lonely/Haunted by ill angels only/Where an Eidolon, named NIGHT/On a black throne reigns upright..."
And, of course, the horror. This is what Poe is best known for, including such well-known stories as "The Fall Of The House Of Usher." But there are also lesser-known gems -- tales of a plague invading a party, being buried alive, a portrait that siphoned the life out of its subject, and a nightly visit to an Italian crypt leading to madness.
Don't read "Complete Stories and Poems" all at once. It's too intense. It's better to soak it in a little at a time, so that you can get a better feel for the different kinds of writing that Poe did, and how he excelled at pretty much everything he put down on paper. Most great writers can't boast of that much.
Poe's writing is what makes even his least story or poem come alive -- he brought a gothic, misty vibrancy to his stories, and could make his quiet dialogue seem utterly chilling (" "I have no name in the regions which I inhabit. I was mortal, but am fiend..."). It's not hard to see why he was an influence on authors such as Fyodor Dostoevsky, Oscar Wilde, Arthur Conan Doyle and Franz Kafka.
"Complete Stories and Poems of Edgar Allan Poe" is a must-have for anyone with an appreciation for great literature and beautiful, dark writing.