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The Tell-Tale Heart (Bantam Classics) [Kindle Edition]

Edgar Allan Poe
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Edgar Allan Poe remains the unsurpassed master of works of mystery and madness in this outstanding collection of Poe's prose and poetry are sixteen of his finest tales, including "The Tell-Tale Heart", "The Murders in the Rue Morgue", "The Fall of the House of Usher," "The Pit and the Pendulum," "William Wilson," "The Black Cat," "The Cask of Amontillado," and "Eleonora". Here too is a major selection of what Poe characterized as the passion of his life, his poems - "The Raven," "Annabel Lee," Ulalume," "Lenore," "The Bells," and more, plus his glorious prose poem "Silence - A Fable" and only full-length novel, The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym.


From the Paperback edition.


Editorial Reviews

About the Author

In his short, troubled life Edgar Allan Poe originated the mystery story, brought new psychological depth to the tale of horror, and made inimitable contributions to Romantic poetry and literary criticism. Born in Boston in 1809 to itinerant actors, Poe was orphaned as an infant and sent to live with a Richmond merchant, John Allan. Allan sent him to the University of Virginia in 1826, but Poe withdrew because of gambling debts. In 1830, with his first book of poems already published, he entered West Point but was dishonorably discharged the next year. In 1835 Poe was chosen editor of the Southern Literary Messenger. Poe was already established as an author when, in 1845, the publication of "The Raven" made him famous. He began to lecture, engaged in a celebrated feud with Longfellow, and became sole proprietor of his own magazine, Broadway Journal. But in 1846 the magazine went bankrupt, and in 1847, after years of suffering, Poe's wife died of consumption. His ill health and drinking worsened. In October 1849 he was found semiconscious outside a polling place in Baltimore; a few days later he died without regaining consciousness.

Ignored for the most part by his countrymen, he was idolized by the French Symbolists, who thought of him as the first modern poet and helped to win him the recognition that is now his.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

The Tell-Tale Heart


TRUE!--NERVOUS--very, very dreadfully nervous I had been and am! but why will you say that I am mad? The disease had sharpened my senses--not destroyed--not dulled them. Above all was the sense of hearing acute. I heard all things in the heaven and in the earth. I heard many things in hell. How, then, am I mad? Hearken! and observe how healthily--how calmly I can tell you the whole story.

It is impossible to say how first the idea entered my brain; but once conceived, it haunted me day and night. Object there was none. Passion there was none. I loved the old man. He had never wronged me. He had never given me insult. For his gold I had no desire. I think it was his eye! yes, it was this! He had the eye of a vulture--a pale blue eye, with a film over it. Whenever it fell upon me, my blood ran cold; and so by degrees--very gradually--I made up my mind to take the life of the old man, and thus rid myself of the eye forever.

Now this is the point. You fancy me mad. Madmen know nothing. But you should have seen me. You should have seen how wisely I proceeded--with what caution--with what foresight--with what dissimulation I went to work!

I was never kinder to the old man than during the whole week before I killed him. And every night, about midnight, I turned the latch of his door and opened it--oh, so gently! And then, when I had made an opening sufficient for my head, I put in a dark lantern, all closed, closed, so that no light shone out, and then I thrust in my head. Oh, you would have laughed to see how cunningly I thrust it in! I moved it slowly--very, very slowly, so that I might not disturb the old man's sleep. It took me an hour to place my whole head within the opening so far that I could see him as he lay upon his bed. Ha!--would a madman have been so wise as this? And then, when my head was well in the room, I undid the lantern cautiously--oh, so cautiously--cautiously (for the hinges creaked)--and I undid it just so much that a single thin ray fell upon the vulture eye. And this I did for seven long nights--every night just at midnight--but I found the eye always closed; and so it was impossible to do the work; for it was not the old man who vexed me, but his Evil Eye. And every morning, when the day broke, I went boldly into the chamber, and spoke courageously to him, calling him by name in a hearty tone, and inquiring how he had passed the night. So you see he would have been a very profound old man, indeed, to suspect that every night, just at twelve, I looked in upon him while he slept.

Upon the eighth night I was more than usually cautious in opening the door. A watch's minute hand moves more quickly than did mine. Never before that night had I felt the extent of my own powers--of my sagacity. I could scarcely contain my feelings of triumph. To think that there I was, opening the door, little by little, and he not even to dream of my secret deeds or thoughts. I fairly chuckled at the idea; and perhaps he heard me; for he moved on the bed suddenly, as if startled.

Now you may think that I drew back--but no. His room was as black as pitch with the thick darkness (for the shutters were close fastened, through fear of robbers), and so I knew that he could not see the opening of the door, and I kept pushing it on steadily, steadily.

I had my head in, and was about to open the lantern, when my thumb slipped upon the tin fastening, and the old man sprang up in the bed, crying out--"Who's there?"

I kept quite still and said nothing. For a whole hour I did not move a muscle, and in the meantime I did not hear him lie down. He was still sitting up in the bed listening;--just as I have done, night after night, hearkening to the death watches in the wall.

Presently I heard a slight groan, and I knew it was the groan of mortal terror. It was not a groan of pain or of grief--oh no!--it was the low stifled sound that arises from the bottom of the soul when overcharged with awe. I knew the sound well. Many a night, just at midnight, when all the world slept, it has welled up from my own bosom, deepening, with its dreadful echo, the terrors that distracted me. I say I knew it well. I knew what the old man felt, and pitied him, although I chuckled at heart. I knew that he had been lying awake ever since the first slight noise, when he had turned in the bed. His fears had been ever since growing upon him. He had been trying to fancy them causeless, but could not. He had been saying to himself--"It is nothing but the wind in the chimney--it is only a mouse crossing the floor," or "it is merely a cricket which has made a single chirp." Yes, he has been trying to comfort himself with these suppositions; but he had found all in vain. All in vain; because Death, in approaching him, had stalked with his black shadow before him, and enveloped the victim. And it was the mournful influence of the unperceived shadow that caused him to feel--although he neither saw nor heard--to feel the presence of my head within the room.

When I had waited a long time, very patiently, without hearing him lie down, I resolved to open a little--a very, very little crevice in the lantern. So I opened it--you cannot imagine how stealthily, stealthily--until, at length, a single dim ray, like the thread of the spider, shot from out the crevice and fell full upon the vulture eye.

It was open--wide, wide open--and I grew furious as I gazed upon it. I saw it with perfect distinctness--all a dull blue, with a hideous veil over it that chilled the very marrow in my bones; but

I could see nothing else of the old man's face or person: for I had directed the ray as if by instinct, precisely upon the damned spot.

And now have I not told you that what you mistake for madness is but over-acuteness of the senses?--now, I say, there came to my ears a low, dull, quick sound, such as a watch makes when enveloped in cotton. I knew that sound well too. It was the beating of the old man's heart. It increased my fury, as the beating of a drum stimulates the soldier into courage.

But even yet I refrained and kept still. I scarcely breathed. I held the lantern motionless. I tried how steadily I could maintain the ray upon the eye. Meantime the hellish tattoo of the heart increased. It grew quicker and quicker, and louder and louder every instant. The old man's terror must have been extreme! It grew louder, I say, louder every moment!--do you mark me well? I have told you that I am nervous: so I am. And now at the dead hour of the night, amid the dreadful silence of that old house, so strange a noise as this excited me to uncontrollable terror. Yet, for some minutes longer I refrained and stood still. But the beating grew louder, louder! I thought the heart must burst. And now a new anxiety seized me--the sound would be heard by a neighbor! The old man's hour had come! With a loud yell, I threw open the lantern and leaped into the room. He shrieked once--once only. In an instant I dragged him to the floor, and pulled the heavy bed over him. I then smiled gaily, to find the deed so far done. But, for many minutes, the heart beat on with a muffled sound. This, however, did not vex me; it would not be heard through the wall. At length it ceased. The old man was dead. I removed the bed and examined the corpse. Yes, he was stone, stone dead. I placed my hand upon the heart and held it there many minutes. There was no pulsation. He was stone dead. His eye would trouble me no more.

If still you think me mad, you will think so no longer when I describe the wise precautions I took for the concealment of the body. The night waned, and I worked hastily, but in silence. First of all I dismembered the corpse. I cut off the head and the arms and the legs.

I then took up three planks from the flooring of the chamber, and deposited all between the scantlings. I then replaced the boards so cleverly, so cunningly, that no human eye--not even his--could have detected any thing wrong. There was nothing to wash out--no stain of any kind--no blood-spot whatever. I had been too wary for that. A tub had caught all--ha! ha!

When I made an end of these labors, it was four o'clock--still dark as midnight. As the bell sounded the hour, there came a knocking at the street door. I went down to open it with a light heart--for what had I now to fear? There entered three men, who introduced themselves, with perfect suavity, as officers of the police. A shriek had been heard by a neighbor during the night: suspicion of foul play had been aroused; information had been lodged at the police office, and they (the officers) had been deputed to search the premises.

I smiled,--for what had I to fear? I bade the gentlemen welcome. The shriek, I said, was my own in a dream. The old man, I mentioned, was absent in the country. I took my visitors all over the house. I bade them search--search well. I led them, at length, to his chamber. I showed them his treasures, secure, undisturbed. In the enthusiasm of my confidence, I brought chairs into the room, and desired them here to rest from their fatigues, while I myself, in the wild audacity of my perfect triumph, placed my own seat upon the very spot beneath which reposed the corpse of the victim.

The officers were satisfied. My manner had convinced them. I was singularly at ease. They sat, and while I answered cheerily, they chatted of familiar things. But, ere long, I felt myself getting pale and wished them gone. My head ached, and I fancied a ringing in my ears: but still they sat and still chatted. The ringing became more distinct:--it continued and became more distinct: I talked more freely to get rid of the feeling: but it continued and gained definitiveness--until at length, I found that the noise was not within my ears.

No doubt I now grew very pale;--but I talked more fluently, and with a heightened voice. Yet the sound increased--and what could I do? It was a low, dull, quick sound--much such a sound as a watch makes when enveloped in cotton. I gasped for breath--and yet the officers heard it not. I talked more quickly--more vehemently; but the noise steadily increased. I arose and argued about trifles, in a high key and with violent gesticulations, but the noise steadily increased. Why would they not be gone? I paced the floor to and fro with heavy strides, as if excited to fury by the observation of the men--but the noise steadily increased. Oh God! what could I do? I foamed--I raved--I swore. I swung the chair upon which I had been sitting, and grated it upon the boards, but the noise arose over all and continually increased. It grew louder--louder--louder! And still the men chatted pleasantly, and smiled. Was it possible they heard not? Almighty God!--no, no! They heard!--they suspected!--they knew!--they were making a mockery of my horror!--this I thought, and this I think. But any thing was better than this agony! Any thing was more tolerable than this derision! I could bear those hypocritical smiles no longer! I felt that I must scream or die!--and now--again!--hark! louder! louder! louder!--

"Villains!" I shrieked, "dissemble no more! I admit the deed!--tear up the planks!--here, here!--it is the beating of his hideous heart!"


The Black Cat


FOR THE most wild yet most homely narrative which I am about to pen, I neither expect nor solicit belief. Mad indeed would I be to expect it, in a case where my very senses reject their own evidence. Yet, mad am I not--and very surely do I not dream. But to-morrow I die, and to-day I would unburden my soul. My immediate purpose is to place before the world, plainly, succinctly, and without comment, a series of mere household events. In their consequences, these events have terrified--have tortured--have destroyed me. Yet I will not attempt to expound them. To me, they have presented little but horror--to many they will seem less terrible than baroques. Hereafter, perhaps, some intellect may be found which will reduce my phantasm to the commonplace--some intellect more calm, more logical, and far less excitable than my own, which will perceive, in the circumstances I detail with awe, nothing more than an ordinary succession of very natural causes and effects.

From my infancy I was noted for the docility and humanity of my disposition. My tenderness of heart was even so conspicuous as to make me the jest of my companions. I was especially fond of animals, and was indulged by my parents with a great variety of pets. With these I spent most of my time, and never was so happy as when feeding and caressing them. This peculiarity of character grew with my growth, and, in my manhood, I derived from it one of my principal sources of pleasure.

To those who have cherished an affection for a faithful and sagacious dog, I need hardly be at the trouble of explaining the nature or the intensity of the gratification thus derivable. There is something in the unselfish and self-sacrificing love of a brute, which goes directly to the heart of him who has had frequent occasion to test the paltry friendship and gossamer fidelity of mere Man.

I married early, and was happy to find in my wife a disposition not uncongenial with my own. Observing my partiality for domestic pets, she lost no opportunity of procuring those of the most agreeable kind. We had birds, gold-fish, a fine dog, rabbits, a small monkey, and a cat.

Product Details

  • File Size: 480 KB
  • Print Length: 448 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0553212281
  • Publisher: Bantam Classics; Reissue edition (September 28, 2004)
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B000FC28X0
  • Text-to-Speech: Not enabled
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  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #400,934 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Tell-Tale Heart By The Weirdo Edgar Allan Poe March 9, 2001
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Imagine that you are working for someone. Working for some one that has something that vexed you. What if the thing that vexed you, drove you into doing something crazy? Mentally crazy, that is if you can stand the pressure. Well, that's what happened to a man in the story of The Tell-Tale Heart by Edgar Allan Poe.
This story is about a man that takes care of / works for an older man. The old man's eye is like a vultures eye, and the eye vexes the other man. The eye drives the other man so crazy that it urges him to attack the old man in the middle of the night. The story takes place in the old man's house. The old man's house is very old and creaky, at least that's how I have pictured it in the last thousand times that I have read this story.
The characters are the old man and the man that gets vexed by the old man's eye. The old man has an eye like a vulture, a pale blue eye with a film over it. The other guy is a mad man. He denies it though. The theme is basically horror. It's not exactly scary, it's scary and thrilling.
If you like books that are thrilling and sort of scary or sort of give you the spooks; if you like murder stories; if you like stories that are sort of abnormal, then you will want to check out The Tell-Tale Heart.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Edgar Allan Poe's works June 16, 2004
By A Customer
Format:Mass Market Paperback
I think that Edgar Allan Poe is a really great Author. He completely mastered the style that he wanted to achieve. His style is somewhat of a creepy, cold feeling one. A coldness that grasps you while you read it. While you read his stories, you really can feel the creepy sense in each one. It's a great style of writing, that doesn't always appeal to everyone, but it's still a great style to accomplish, and he did it very, very well. I enjoyed reading most of his works, because they have a vocabulary on them like you wouldn't believe. I had to look up a few words that he used, but it was still nice to read. Anyways, have fun reading his books, and let them live on. :-D
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11 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Tell-Tale Heart January 9, 2002
By Rachel
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Ive read this book in one of my classes at school. I would suggest it to anyone that has a wider vocabulary. Basically its about a man, the narrator, who has an obsession with another man's eye. The eye resembles that of a vulture's or in simpler terms it has a glazed look to it. The eye drives the narrator crazy. After many nights of waiting he finally gets the chance to kill him. He hides the body underneath the floorboards in the house. When the police investigate the narrator believes that he can hear the beating of the heart underneath the floor. He is sure the police can hear it to. It ocercomes him, and since he is so sure that they hear it, he confesses. When in all reality, it is his own guilt which leads him to confess... But thats a reader's digest version. :)
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Once a Poe fan, always a Poe fan. October 23, 2008
Format:Mass Market Paperback|Verified Purchase
I was so excited when I found a copy of this book. I have always been a fan of Poe and lost the few books I had in my collection. I've read it a dozen times and love it more every time I read it!
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5.0 out of 5 stars A classic I might have missed March 9, 2014
By sara
Format:Mass Market Paperback|Verified Purchase
I had to read this for a univerity class and I'm so glad I did. I read mostly contemporary literature and am afraid I've walked by many a dusty Poe on the library shelves. Shame on me. What a great writer. The Tell Tale Heart (And The Black Cat, etc.) will be with me for a long time. May they remind me of consequences and conscience. May I think before I act and may I be reminded that a mis-step will stay with me for the rest of my life.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding November 17, 2013
Format:Kindle Edition
This is Poe. I mean, that should just be the entire review. This man, though dark, was extremely talented. Poe's work is from ages ago and to this day, no one can write like him and I'm beginning to think no one will ever come close.

The madness, the darkness...within it laid his talent. If anyone hasn't read it, they should. It's a must have print copy for all book enthusiasts. I first read Poe in Jr High and I loved him from the moment I read the first passages.

However, like Tolstoy, you either love Poe or you hate him.

[...]
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4.0 out of 5 stars English Teacher November 20, 2012
By Jodi
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
My honors students found the language of Poe challenging but the plot lines interesting. When muliple short stories were used from this collection, they were able to do a mini-author study on Poe. The poems were also a nice addition, beyond the traditional ones that are included in most anthologies.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Crazy But Love June 20, 2012
Format:Hardcover
Oh my favorite writer is Edgar Allan Poe and this story is awesome. Must read cause the entire time you are thinking that the eyeball is bothering you too. What a awesome story, dark but a must read for classic horror fans!
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Ehh could of been better
I love Edgar Allan Poe so this book was a great choice, however the book came creased and bent so I didn't enjoy it as much as I would of liked, but overall its was a decent buy
Published 3 months ago by Mayra Rojas
4.0 out of 5 stars The Tell Tale Heart
My favorite story by Edgar Allan Poe is The Tell Tale Heart, this is my favorite story because it is a very suspensful, and you never know whats going to happen next. Read more
Published on November 4, 2011 by Amber
5.0 out of 5 stars An unappreciated genius
Classic macab which only Poe could have created. People have a tendency to focus on the man's weaknesses. Poe's legacy is in his work.
Published on July 19, 2011 by L. Knapp
5.0 out of 5 stars I'm very please!
My daughter had been asking me for this book, so I ordered it for her. The book was in excellent shape, like new! It arrived in such a short time too, which made me very happy. Read more
Published on February 2, 2010 by Bianca's Mom
3.0 out of 5 stars Tell Tale Heart
I tought it was a well writen short story, but very strage. I would recomend this great piece of work to older people. I will read it again and I hope you read it, too.
Published on September 8, 2003 by Ben Chaney
4.0 out of 5 stars Balance in the human nature
Lately I have been interested in the psychological state of socio-paths. In undertaking this study I was recommended "Crime and Punishment" by Fyodor and "Tell Tale Heart" by Edgar... Read more
Published on January 3, 2003 by M. A. ZAIDI
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