Lᴀʏᴀ Rᴀɴɪ #BookDiet2019's Reviews > The Tell-Tale Heart and Other Writings

The Tell-Tale Heart and Other Writings by Edgar Allan Poe
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No other writer evokes horror in its rawest, most human form like Edgar Allan Poe. Sometimes his stories are a blunt force trauma while others are drilled into the mind using precision instruments of terror. His themes and depictions of people's greatest fears are very diverse and uniquely constructed, more visceral in some aspects but also cerebral in execution for a select few. This anthology The Tell-Tale Heart and Other Writings is comprised of his finest works in short story and poetry forms tackling what is readily terrifying, certain terrors that elude the psyche, and the unfortunate ways human beings transform into the very monsters they fear.

With seventeen gruesome tales and sixteen morbid poems, this anthology is a must-have for any aficionado of the genre. The prose that Poe crafts in each of his pieces is spellbinding; we get descriptive ramblings of mad men and women, psychologically layered instances and premonitions, and frightening yet subtle symbolisms plus debated interpretations of each work. Reading his short stories transport you right into the disturbed minds of irredeemable individuals who heed the call of misery and darkness, acting both predator and prey of their own machinations and failures.

His best pieces are those that make readers experience paranoia and dissociation themselves and such stories have become a classic for that very reason. The titular The Tell-Tale Heart is a brief yet searing account of a man haunted by his macabre misdeed while The Black Cat and The Cask of Armontillado have characters who commit murders for reasons somewhat hollow and petty; the former was discovered in the most absurd way possible while the other was successful in concealing it but is forever tainted after the fact. We also have allegorical pieces such as The Masque of Red Death, The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar, and A Descent in the Maelstorm which evoke a series of unavoidable misfortunes, marking its characters in blood and death.

And then we have tales that have more non-conclusive interpretations and resolutions such as The Fall of the House of Usher, Ligeria, The Pit and the Pendulumand The Premature Burial. All four of these stories are imaginative and insidious, dealing with fantastical elements and spine-tingling primitive fears that plague as all, only if we allow ourselves to contemplate deeper about them. A few other stories deal with catastrophic, life-altering conflicts which are found in Ms. Found in a Bottle and Silence--A Fable. And then we have the character-centric baffling accounts of William Wilson, Eleanora, and The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym, the last of which has the most trying length.

Before there was ever a more defined detective genre and its formulaic elements, Poe has created C. Auguste Dupin, the first crime reasoner who used deductive reasoning in solving criminal cases that later on inspired Sir Arthur Conan Doyle with his more famous great detective Sherlock Holmes. Dupin only appeared in two stories, The Murders in Rue Morgue and The Purloined Letter which deserve multiple readings to be acquire a more nuanced appreciation for the groundwork and thought process that Poe has employed in characterizing his detective and resolving the plots.

After readers had their fill of his gripping short stories, they can move on to the assortment of his poems which offer a more economical way of slaking their interest and intrigue for the memorably horrific and sometimes even upsetting concepts regarding ailments and discord that people will always find themselves caught up in and often not overcoming. Poe's poetic style is refined and elegant in a lot of respects but there are moments of sporadic contemplations and truly intense retrospective epiphanies that will keep reeling readers in. I personally enjoyed Israfel, The City in the Sea, The Valley of the Unrest, The Sleeper, The Bells and Alone.

With a vigorous and daring marksmanship in which he penned his works with, Poe's prose is very much alive--rustling, palpitating, throbbing, moaning and groaning and every other vivid ways that may drive weaker minds mad upon reading. His tales are cavernous places, buried deep in the recesses of our minds we never fully acknowledge. But every so often we can hear them calling for us--like a bell tolling from a distance--or the low, persistent humming of a heartbeat; whether concealed in a crypt, lodged inside a bottle in the middle of an ocean or has made itself comfortable right under our very beds where we believe we are most safe when we really aren't.

RECOMMENDED: 9/10

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Quotes Lᴀʏᴀ Rᴀɴɪ Liked

Edgar Allan Poe
“Villains!' I shrieked. 'Dissemble no more! I admit the deed! Tear up the planks! Here, here! It is the beating of his hideous heart!”
Edgar Allan Poe, The Tell-Tale Heart and Other Writings

Edgar Allan Poe
“And have I not told you that what you mistake for madness is but over-acuteness of the sense? --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.”
Edgar Allan Poe, The Tell-Tale Heart and Other Writings

Edgar Allan Poe
“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.”
Edgar Allan Poe, The Tell-Tale Heart and Other Writings

Edgar Allan Poe
“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) –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 has 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.”
Edgar Allan Poe, The Tell-Tale Heart and Other Writings

Edgar Allan Poe
“They who dream by day are cognizant of many things which escape those who dream only by night.”
Edgar Allan Poe, The Tell-Tale Heart and Other Writings


Reading Progress

November 24, 2015 – Started Reading
November 24, 2015 – Shelved
November 25, 2015 –
page 17
3.79% "The Tell-Tale Heart and The Black Cat are both so goddamn terrific and horrific all at once, aren't they?! I cringed and chuckled all the way through reading both. Exemplary, economical and chillingly told! Poe must be drinking the best of alcohol while writing these gems.\n \n "
November 25, 2015 –
page 46
10.27% "I. I CAN'T EVEN--\n \n "
December 1, 2015 –
page 58
12.95% "Fascinating stuff."
December 3, 2015 –
page 128
28.57% "Ligeia sure was weird. Also, re-read the two Dupin mystery stories. I didn't enjoy them years ago but now they seem fine to me."
December 3, 2015 –
page 144
32.14% "Poe is prolific in his subjects and themes of horror."
December 7, 2015 –
page 170
37.95% "I think I had the same nightmare like The Pit and the Pendulum. Meanwhile, Ms. Found in a Bottle was weirdly absurd for me but I had fun reading it."
December 11, 2015 –
page 387
86.38% "The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym really took me a while. It's the longest piece of his fiction list. Now headed for the poems. A really stunning anthology, this. Each story makes you think and come up with your own interpretations."
December 11, 2015 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-3 of 3 (3 new)

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Apatt Languishing in my TBR. I really must get to it soon.
Great review Kee!


Lᴀʏᴀ Rᴀɴɪ #BookDiet2019 Apatt wrote: "Languishing in my TBR. I really must get to it soon.
Great review Kee!"


Oh you should! It's fantastic!~


Apatt

I'm also reading all your X-Men reviews, but not the actual comics as I can't afford them! ;)


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