Tales of Edgar Allan Poe – Horror and Suspense/The Grotesque and Arabesque

Through Tales of the Grotesque and Arabesque

“I must not only punish but punish with impunity. A wrong is unredressed when retribution overtakes its redresser. It is equally unredressed when the avenger fails to make himself felt as such to him who has done the wrong.”
~Montresor, The Cask of Amontillado

So, having finished the first two sections of Poe’s collection of stories, I have a rather mixed opinion. Some of them were truly fantastic, very thrilling (or chilling). But others were just kind of . . . lame.

I have to say The Cask of Amontillado was my overall favorite. I’d read this one before in school, and it was even better the second time. The cool calculations of the murderer and the desperation of the man as he was being sealed in were perfect, making this truly a Tale of Horror and Suspense. Other good ones from this category were A Descent into the Maelstrom (very exciting), The Fall of the House of Usher (very creepy), and The Masque of the Red Death (very vivid).

As for the Tales of the Grotesque and Arabesque, I think the prize has to go to Shadow – A Parable. Though incredibly short, it was also incredibly eerie. From this category I also enjoyed The Assignation, which had an engaging story, Ligeia, for it’s ending, and Hop-Frog, because I’m a fan of justice.

Now for the ones that totally missed the mark. Number one is Silence – A Fable. I just didn’t get it. There may be some underlying meaning, but if so, I missed it. Also was King Pest. This one, I imagine, has some sort of satirical element that doesn’t really make sense without proper context. But I don’t have that context (and, I confess, I’m too lazy to look into it).

Other ones that I have to say I wasn’t too big a fan of are Berenice, for no particular reason other than, perhaps, it was just the latest of far too many instances of people getting entombed when they’re still alive (I mean, seriously, didn’t they check!?), and The Pit and the Pendulum, because no Edgar Allan Poe story is supposed to have a happy ending (such as it is).

Finishing the first two sections means that I’m on to the Tales of Ratiocination. (ratiocination (n) – the process of exact thinking; a reasoned train of thought) So, I suppose these will be more like detective stories, something that appeals to me greatly. Plus, they’re longer, so there will probably be more detail and characterization. I’m looking forward to reading The Gold-Bug, the first in the set, and may have a review of it up by later tonight.

For a quick plot rundown on some of Poe’s best known stories, see:
http://listverse.com/2008/07/28/top-10-creepiest-tales-of-edgar-allan-poe/

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