M Short Stories, Irish literature, Classics, Modern Fiction and Contemporary Literary Fiction, The Japanese Novel and post Colonial Asian Fiction are some of my Literary Interests

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Friday, January 21, 2011

"The Tell Tale Heart" by Edgar Alan Poe

"The Tell Tale Heart" by Edgar Alan Poe (1843, 5 pages)-Short Stories in The Life Time Reading Plan


Edgar Alan Poe (1809 to 1849-USA) would have been 202 years old on January 19.   Yesterday I was looking over the works listed in Clifton Fadiman's The Life Time Reading Plan (1960), a book that has meant a great deal to me for many years.    There are only four authors listed for their short stories, Franz Kafka, Nathaniel Hawthorne,  Ernest Hemingway and Edgar Alan Poe.   (Herman Melville's "Bartleby the Scriviner" is also listed and I completely agree with that.)  ( I think James Joyce, Anton Chehkov, Guy du Mauspassant, and Katherine Mansfield and maybe Gogol should be added to the list and I would be OK with the dropping of Hemingway.)      Fadiman says Poe pretty much created the  "horror story" and the "detective story" genre.   Many of the characters in his stories are right at the border between sanity and insanity.    He is very much a Gothic writer.

I have previously posted on Poe's "The Mask of the Red Death".   "The Tell Tale Heart" is on the surface a simpler tale.   The first person narrator and central character of the story knows he (might be a she for all we are told)  is perhaps losing his mind.    The central character is somehow being driven mad by an old man that he lives with who he thinks is somehow giving him a "vulture eye". He decided to save his sanity he must murder the old man.    He then dismembers the body of the old man and hides it under the floor boards of the house.   I do not want to give away more of the plot of this story as it is very well told and quite exciting.    Poe does a great job of making us see the world through the eyes of the  narrator.   It is beautifully written.  

"The Tale of the Tell Tale Heart" can be read online (all of his stories can be read online).    It is a fun story from a canon status writer.       In five minutes you can experience a classic short story.

Mel u


13 comments:

Sally Sapphire said...

Nice timing, hon. I just posted this morning about what seems to be the end of an era, with Poe's mysterious toaster failing to show for the 2nd consecutive year.

For me, it's Ligeia that always haunts my memories of Poe. I so love that story.

Suko said...

Mel, I, too, would recommend this story. When I think of Poe I do think of horror stories. Timely post!

Mel said...

Hi Mel U

The Tell Tale Heart is one of my all time favourtie stories. I remember reading it and being thoroughly terrified. It is awesome. Incredible to think Poe would be over 200 years old. He was well and truly ahead of his time. Many thanks for this post. And hope you have a good weekend :)

Short Story Slore said...

I'm 50/50 with the Poe short stories, but I do love this one!

emeire said...

I read and reviewed it not long ago; I thought it was quite good.
I think there are many more short story writers who could be included to the list. Those are the ones to start with in order to understand where the genre comes from. Contemporary short stories can also be fantastic and quite rewarding in their use and/or subversion of the genre.
Em

Jenny O. said...

Yes, I can't believe Muapassant would have been excluded from any short story list. Some of Fitzgerald's are aalso pretty fabulous. Hemingway (the ones I've read, anyhow) also wrote great short stories, though his literary reputation has been on the decline in recent years.

Daphne said...

I remember reading this in 8th or
9th grade and it totally creeped me out!

bokunosekai said...

Great review as always Mel.
I wish I can enjoy reading online just like you...but I couldn't :(
I just received an unpublishe book from my blogger friend, instead of reading it from the PC I ended up printing it.
I haven't read Poe yet, but I really want to one day

Jillian said...

I just read this story yesterday. Creepy!

mel u said...

Jillian-it is a kind of creepy story!

bokunosekai-thanks so much-I read online a lot-I hope you will let us know your experiences with Poe

Daphne-glad to hear of the power of this story

mel u said...

Sally Sapphire-very good to hear of your experiences with Poe

Suko-I will occasionally be reading more Poe stories

Mel-glad to here your posts and hope things are getting better in Queensland

Short Story Store-do you have a favorite Poe?

emeire-yes you are right-as I approach my 200th short story I am beginning to understand the genre a bit

Jenny O-yes I agree on the du Maupassant-I need to read some Fitzgerald short stories but maybe I will be disappointed if it does not equal the last ten pages or so The Great Gatsby

LifetimeReader said...

I'm so glad you read the Poe! If you have a young teenager around who will let you read this story aloud to him or her, it is a perfect choice.

mel u said...

LifetimeReader-I do have a 14 year old daughter that loves to read-YA books-I will try it on her-I hope to read some longer Poe short stories soon-