About this Recording
NA428312 - POE, E.A.: Tales of Mystery and Imagination (Unabridged)

The Fall of the

The Fall of the

House of Usher

The Pit and

the Pendulum

& Other Tales of

Mystery and Imagination


Mystery and crime stories are among the most popular forms of fiction today, and the popularity of the genre is no mystery to millions of readers – and listeners – worldwide. Although his source of happiness was writing poetry, Edgar Allan Poe also raised the short story to an art form. His dark, gothic tales of mystery and imagination had heavy influence on the modern thriller. This exceptional selection of works illustrates why many consider Edgar Allan Poe to be the father of the modern mystery.


The early years of the 1840s were the high point of Poe’s life. He produced a series of fine macabre and suspenseful stories that have retained their power to shock and frighten even today.


Among the 10 selections contained in this collection is The Fall of the House of Usher (1839), a detailed, symbolic account of the derangement and dissipation of an individual’s personality.


While listening to The Tell-Tale Heart (1843), one must be reminded not to take horror in Poe too autobiographically. The narrator’s “nervousness” is a frequently used device of Poe to establish tone and plausibility through heightened states of consciousness.


In writing The Masque of the Red Death (1842), Poe would have considered such historical examples as the Black Death or the bubonic plague of the Middle Ages as well as the cholera epidemics that ravaged Philadelphia in the 1790’s and Baltimore in his own lifetime. However, in this story, the plague takes the unusual form of a red death rather than a black one so that blood, the very substance of life, now becomes the mark of death.


The Cask of Amontillado (1846), is a classic example of the use of an unreliable narrator. Montresor tells his tale of revenge smugly, as he invites the listener to applaud his cleverness. By telling the story from Montresor’s point of view, Poe forces us to look into the inner workings of a murderer’s mind.

The Black Cat (1843), serves as a reminder for all of us: The capacity for violence and horror lies within each of us, no matter how docile and humane our dispositions might appear.


Also included are The Pit and the Pendulum (1842), Ligeia (1838), The Premature Burial (1844) and The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar (1845).

Although a collection of short stories, it would be remiss to not include The Raven (1845). First published under a pseudonym and a symbol of “mournful and never-ending remembrance”, The Raven is Poe’s best-known poem and one of the most famous works in American literature.

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