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The Fall of the House of Usher and Other Writings

4.19  ·  Rating Details ·  2,302 Ratings  ·  69 Reviews
Essays on literature accompany poems and stories about the strange forces that lead men to their doom.
Paperback, Penguin Classics, 513 pages
Published April 24th 1986 by Penguin Books
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Ben Winch
Jun 19, 2011 Ben Winch rated it it was amazing
I wrote this review a while ago. What was I thinking? Now I'll have to explain myself. Anyway, here it is...
I go through phases where I think Poe was the greatest writer that ever lived. They usually pass in 2-3 weeks or so, once I've had time to read and re-read his best stuff and be appalled by his worst. For the most part, this collection sticks to the best. There's not much of it. 200 pages would probably do it. Maybe 12 stories, some poems ('The Raven', 'Annabel Lee'). But page for page I d
I feel like saying something along the lines of: "more fiction writers should read Poe." But I suspect that plenty of the shittiest writers around count Poe as a favourite. So what's the deal? In any case, much of this stuff is just perfect. And you know it. If you don't, you haven't read Poe, or have questionable taste.

The finest?
The Fall of the House of Usher
The Pit and the Pendulum
The Tell-Tale Heart
The Black Cat
The Cask of Amontillado
Ben Siems
Jan 12, 2008 Ben Siems rated it really liked it
"From childhood's hour I have not been
As others were — I have not seen
As others saw — I could not bring
My passions from a common spring ... "
—Edgar Allan Poe, "Alone"

I wonder what percentage of those who cheer for the Baltimore Ravens football team realize that they are supporting the only major North American sports franchise whose name is derived from a a great work of literature. I'm guessing it would be pretty low.

Reading this book, which I did some time ago, gave me a lasting appreciation f
Further Reading
A Note on the Text


--Sonnet - To Science
--Al Aaraaf
--To Helen
--The City in the Sea
--The Sleeper
--The Valley of Unrest
--The Raven
--For Annie
--A Valentine
--Annabel Lee
--The Bells


--MS. Found in a Bottle
--The Man that was Used Up
--The Fall of the House of Usher
--William Wilson
--The Man of the Crowd
--The Murders in the Rue Morgue
--A Descent into the Maelström
--The Oval Portrait
Jan 22, 2009 Rachel rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Reading this whole book really expanded my conception of Poe. First of all, the introduction was interesting in that it downplayed the things you usually hear about Poe (married his young cousin, was an alcoholic, etc).

As for the guts of the book went, I have to say I suffered through most of the poetry, but the tales were great. Who knew that Poe basically invented the detective story? His are great! And the "Gold Bug" is such a fun story. (I remember reading it as a kid, though I didn't remem
Oct 28, 2013 Tracey rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
oh my goodness just read the pit and the pendulum it is truely frightening. Loved it one of the best psychological tales I have ever read. WOW 5 stars from me for this story alone.
A brilliant introduction to Poe .
There were lots of stories and poems in here that I admit to using my hi lighter pen on and that is not something I do regularly.
The Raven is a personal favorite of mine and The Pit and the Pendulum again Wow but there is much more to be enjoyed from this master of the macabre..
Oct 05, 2013 Carol rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poe
First, let me say that I'm terrified by scary movies or stories -- blame it on my childhood! But secondly, I'm amazed by "The Fall of the House of Usher." Poe's writing is amazing. Coming upon the House, "with an utter depression of soul which I can compare to no earthly sensation more properly than to the everyday life." OR "There was an iciness, a sinking, a sickening of the heart-- an unredeemed dreariness of thoughts which no goading of the imagination could torture into aught of the sublime ...more
Sep 22, 2007 Nereyda rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone
Romance by Edgar Allan Poe.

Romance, who loves to nod and sing,
With drowsy head and folded wing,
Among the green leaves as they shake
Far down within some shadowy lake,
To me a painted paroquet
Hath been- a most familiar bird-
Taught me my alphabet to say-
To lisp my very earliest word
While in the wild wood I did lie,
A child- with a most knowing eye.

Of late, eternal Condor years
So shake the very Heaven on high
With tumult as they thunder by,
I have no time for idle cares
Through gazing on the unquiet sky.
Michael Kelly
May 14, 2013 Michael Kelly rated it it was amazing
Poe's prose reads like his poetry, and that's about the best praise I can give. His writing is lyrical, fantastical, strange and evocative. It's like weird music and this, as much as *what* he writes, accounts for much of his effectiveness.

All of his most famous tales are in here, the highlight for me being 'Murders in the Rue Morgue'. The best of his poetry is here too. The last section of the book consists of a collection of reviews and articles, which I confess I didn't read as it was the fic
Sep 09, 2013 Kevin rated it it was amazing
Shelves: the-good, classics
Old Poe really didnt like encroaching science at the time he was living in (1830/40's). Sonnet To Science is quite revealing; he saw science as slowly destroying age old ideas and myths...

'Why preyest thou thus upon the poets heart,
Vulture, whose wings are dull realities?'

Not only that, but how about:

'Hast thou not torn the Naiad from her flood,
The Elfin from the green grass, and from me
The Summer dream beneath the tamarind tree?'

Not much more to say. He is right of course.
Mar 10, 2014 Daniela rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is the perfect way to show the powerfulness of Poe's writings. He was a mad author, and in these stories, you can also know the scary part of the human character.
Nov 21, 2015 Sandra rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: textbooks
I didn't read the whole book since this was for a class on Victorian Literature (we're going to trace Poe's influence on Baudelaire and Swinburne). Someday I will go back and read the rest :)
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jor Allen
Apr 30, 2017 Jor Allen rated it really liked it
I picked this up because a good friend of mine studies American literature from around this era. I knew of Poe, without reading much of his works. I had previously read The Raven and The Murders in the Rue Morgue. That was it. This collection united together some of his poems, his short stories and his essays.

I didn't find every piece to be a winner, but that's not to say I didn't enjoy experimenting with Poe's work. Of his poems, I most enjoyed Ulalume and (of course) The Raven. Among the short
Feb 10, 2013 Dan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I only really read this for the tales, the short stories. I wrote a few lines about each tale: ...

Ms. Found in a Bottle : A great story about a man caught in a shipwreck. Fantastic imagery of a man beyond his limits.

Ligea: The narrator tells of his love for a woman called Ligea and his devastation over her death. He gets married again and the new wife also dies but is then re-born as Ligea. Bit of a WTF moment and nobody is really sure what Poe was trying to do with this story. The heartbreak i
Noelle Walsh
Mar 14, 2017 Noelle Walsh rated it it was amazing
This is an excellent anthology of Poe's works! This is a must read for anyone who is a fan and for anyone who is a fan of classic horror! You really get a sense of the strength of his writing.
Grace Harris
Apr 19, 2016 Grace Harris rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone who likes a really good short story
When I was younger, if I heard the name Edgar Allen Poe, I used to think of a little, curly black haired, bespectacled creature chanting poetry at a raven. The best way to dispel this image is to read his work. Poe certainly was an odd figure, and his life was full of dark, depressing events and hardship. To me, he was pretty much the gothic equivalent of poor, tortured genius. Not that he was a saint, far from it, in fact his frankly creepy relationship with his scarily young cousin made me fe ...more
This book was a joy to read. I found it impossible to place down and every single story was read with a great deal of passion.

Poe writes with such clarity and fluidity, that you become lost in those long expositions - as seen in C. Auguste Dupin's accounts in The Purloined Letter and The Murders in the Rue Morgue - so commonplace within his work.

At all times - even where such strong characters as Dupin are in play - the story is always at the forefront of Poe's mind. Characters are there to br
Apr 09, 2015 Ariana rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: gothic-horror
This gets 3 stars only because of Poe's mastery of writing. I can't comment on the poetry because I'm not educated in that area, and I can't comment on the essays because they didn't interest me in the slightest so I skimmed through them, but the stories themselves weren't particularly enjoyable. There were a few here and there that held me in, but aside from the writing they weren't good enough to merit a high rating from me.

Poe's writing style and voice is impressive and I wish I were able to
Amber Lou
Sep 25, 2012 Amber Lou rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Fans of the Gothic
Shelves: 3-stars
First I shall have to admit that although I read all the poems and the prose, I did not however read all of the essays as I fancied some lighter reading. I will however, go back to them at some point though not in the immediate future. I also felt that reading essays about thing’s I hadn’t read or seen of whatever would not be very useful as I would have no idea what they were talking about (or perhaps I’m just lazy).

The first thing I noticed while reading, was that his style of writing just l
Apr 12, 2012 Wendle rated it liked it
My overall impression was that Poe is a rambler. In most of the stories, he spends a lot of (in my opinion, necessary,) time setting the scene before launching into the story.

The stories in which Poe ‘got on with it’ and didn’t waste pages detailing useless descriptions, i found the most enjoyable—unsurprisingly. It was when i read ‘William Wilson’ (the fifth story in the book) that i was suddenly hooked. Suddenly i didn’t feel like i was forcing myself to keep reading. Suddenly the pages were f
I had an old selection of Poe's masterpieces, but this present edition is a wider collection of his works. I have already read almost everything presented in this volume, both during high school, university and even later on in my life.
I adore Poe because he is one of the few writers who is really able to scare the hell out of me in just three or four words.
The Tell-Tale Heart and were the first two stories of Poe's I've read (I was about 12 back then)and the memory of the fright and goosebumps
Dec 01, 2008 Rhiannon rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Edgar Allan Poe is amazing. Having read "The Pit and the Pendulum" after someone recommended it to me, I decided to buy this book and am thoroughly enjoying it.

His poems don't really come to much, except of course for "The Raven", which is a classic and so well-known you don't need me to tell you about it.

The tales are full of his speciality - suspense - in a way that often leaves you breathless. Their length is perfect for their content - any longer and you'd be going out of your mind. I often
May 23, 2016 Troy rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy-horror
I did not read this book cover to cover. I picked stories and poems recommended from other sources, including Goodreads!

I've known 'The Raven' for a long time and I still enjoy it's rhyme and reading it. It's pretty cool.

I then read 'The fall of the house of Usher'. It's known as a gothic classic and intertwined the souls of the house and it's twin inhabitants. Our narrator is an observer of events largely. It's fantastical really, written in a somewhat elaborate way.

I then read 'The pit and
Feb 18, 2010 Godzilla rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics, 2010
A book that has been put together wonderfully well. There is an expansive introduction which gives great insights into Poe's life and the nature of his works.

Then into the poems, the only one of which I already knew was The Raven. Some worked well for me, others were to verbose and unwieldy.

The short stories are the central part, and to me, the kernel of the book. Poe takes you into some dark, leads you along closed room mysteries and into some weird places.

To cap the book off, there are some of
Alex Richmond
Jul 02, 2015 Alex Richmond rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: snanned-books
I was told that Edgars stories age very well, and by far most of them do. However, I will admit I had trouble understanding most of his poems and essays. That does not take a thing away from him, as my sister seems to get it, and most of my friends as well.

The book has a brief history of the man, then has some of his poems, then stories, then essays/reviews he wrote. The last 20 pages list reference to some things that may confuse some readers, as some things do age, or you don't speak french.

Jun 13, 2011 Alice rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: citizens of earth
The man was a genius!!!!! I enjoyed every bit of this book. The Poems: Poe seems half sublime, his mind is far from usual. These poems offer a feeling so rare and should be read by everyone at least once. The Tales: very enjoyable and diverse. Not too long and stuffed with long descriptions, nor too short to envelop the plot. Out of all, I probably liked 'The Masque of the Red Death' the best, and 'A Descent into the Maelström' the least. Too bad there weren't more, though. Essays and Reviews: H ...more
Having focused my reading on Poe's tales, this compendium makes it easy to spot patterns and connections between each of the stories, as well as the poems. They frequently involve a first-person narrative by a narrator who is enthralled by some intriguing character - a beautiful woman, or an intriguing man shrouded in some kind of mystery. Another Poe-esque idea is the animation of the inanimate, which features in 'The Fall of the House of Usher'. The growing influence of innovation and travel s ...more
James Ferrett
Jun 26, 2015 James Ferrett rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"...with an utter depression of soul which I can compare to no earthly sensation more properly than to the after-dream of the reveller upon opium--the bitter lapse into everyday life--the hideous dropping off of the veil."

A book of stories this well known shouldn't manage to have twist endings this unsettling. Poe knew how to unnerve in a short time, and these stories are a great example of how short fiction but be just as powerful as novels.

Some of the best and most surprising horror I've ever
Poe really was a genius of a horror writer. This includes some great stories but among my favorites were The Black Cat, The Pit and the Pendulum and the Cast of Amontillado (which I'd read in high school and never really understood and having re-read it as an adult simply loved. The guy is being murdered and I never got that.) I wasn't so much a fan of his mystery story...The Murders in the Rue Morgue.
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The name Poe brings to mind images of murderers and madmen, premature burials, and mysterious women who return from the dead. His works have been in print since 1827 and include such literary classics as The Tell-Tale Heart, The Raven, and The Fall of the House of Usher. This versatile writer’s oeuvre includes short stories, poetry, a novel, a textbook, a book of scientific theory, and hundreds of ...more
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