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UNABRIDGED: Edgar Allan Poe: Collected Stories and Poems (Great Authors)
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Ralph Cosham builds up each poem or tale on Poes strange strings of works and imaginings. Highly Recommended. -- Booklist
About the Author
Edgar Allan Poe was born in January of 1809, the son of Boston actors. He was orphaned before he was three and was taken in by his godfather, John Allan, a merchant of Richmond, Virginia. After incurring gambling debts at the University of Virginia, he joined the army where, at eighteen, he published his first poems. He was dismissed from West Point, and then worked for various literary magazines. In 1836, while living in Baltimore, he married his fourteen-year-old cousin. He achieved acclaim for the Raven in 1845; two years later his wife died. In October of 1849, shortly after his engagement to a love of his youth, Poe was found semiconscious in the streets of Baltimore. He died days later. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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Poe could use the English language like a blunt instrument, and I developed a method to read it. Do NOT let yourself be stopped and bogged down at words and references you do not understand. There will be hundreds of these, and you don't have to ferret out and define every one. You'll pick up the flow and the sense of a story, and when this happens, just keep reading and the reference will either emerge on its own or fade. Just let this happen. Ed made most of his stories and his characters intentionally complex, but some are very flat-footed and straightforward.
I even came to suspect that he made a few of his stories incomprehensible on purpose, just as a joke of his own, to see if readers claimed to understand them or even praised them. He was also not above the occasional zinger. He uses the phrase "It was a dark and stormy night ..." in one, and a little research proves this was after Bulwer-Lytton famously used it in what is now considered the very worst opening paragraph ever to a major, published novel. Poe spins it out and makes it even cornier and more ludicrous. Edward Bulwer-Lytton was no Ed Poe, and Poe knew it.
If you dive into a story which makes no sense and you can't find the thread, it's OK to dump it and move on to the next one. Ed would just figure you didn't get the joke. He was a lot smarter than most of us. He was also a bit of a madman, maybe more than just a bit.
For me, Poe lends himself to the unusual. You don't have to be sitting quietly and properly upright in a proper chair with a floor lamp over your left shoulder to read him. I read most of these stories off of my phone on the Metro on the way home from a concert or a ballgame. He could be a fitting end to an evening of Tchaikovsky or Bartók or a Dodgers game. The characters and occasional commotion around me actually added to the atmosphere of the stories. They can be a fun distraction if you're stuck someplace with nothing to do for awhile, and you might even rig up a text-to-speech thing and listen to them in your car.
Poe isn't stiff and proper. He's fun. Give him a shot.
The next thing I knew, I bought this book and re-read all of the stories I knew from high school, then read several others and was amazed at how extremely well written they were. I even sat down with my older kids and read things like: The Raven, The Tell Tale Heart, The Cask of Amontillado, etc., with them so that we could discuss them.
If you like his writings, I believe you will enjoy this collection.
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