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review 2017-08-09 03:16
Edgar Allan Poe: Complete Tales and Poems
Edgar Allan Poe: Complete tales and poems - Edgar Allan Poe

Edgar Allan Poe is best known for his dark and psychological poems and short stories that have had an influence not only American literature throughout the world not only in literature but television and film.  Yet while a number of Poe’s work has stood the test of time and made a large impression, a lot more expose stereotypical tropes and themes that repeat so much that they lose impact to the reader.

 

Before I go through the problems I have with Poe, I’m going to spend a little time praising his better pieces.  “The Raven” is obviously the best known of Poe’s poetry and arguably his best, even though you’ve might have read it or heard it read before just reading it again makes you appreciate it before.  The three Auguste Dupin short stories, the precursors to the detective genre, are wonderful reads in which Poe’s deductive reason is used well in written form to create fascinating mysteries and solutions.  Although I could go on, the last story I will mention is “The Cask of Amontillado” which is a fantastic revenge story in which the narrator has no qualms with it afterwards.

 

Unfortunately this unrepentant narrator in “Amontillado” is unfortunately the exception to Poe’s trope of the narrator going crazy with guilt and admitting his crime which is featured in many stories Poe wrote.  Along with a young woman always dying and premature burials, Poe’s writing is fraught with these tropes that after a while exhaust the reader with the almost predictable way a trope takes over a particular story to end with the same way.  While these trope takeovers are discouraging, the tendency of Poe to begin a short story with a philosophical discourse only for the narrator to suddenly go off on a tangent (usually on a murder he committed) that had nothing to do with the discourse at the beginning.  Frankly these literary quirks, or crutches, that Poe used throughout numerous compositions get tiresome while reading the entirety of Poe’s work and make one question his supposed literary greatness.

 

If you a true Poe fan, this complete collection of his tales and poems are for you.  However, if you are someone who wants the best of Poe then avoid this complete collection and find a smaller collection that gives his best.

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text 2017-08-04 23:23
Reading progress update: I've read 1020 out of 1020 pages.
Edgar Allan Poe: Complete tales and poems - Edgar Allan Poe

Eureka: A Prose Poem
My rating: 0.5 out of 5 stars

An essay on, well I’m not really sure to be honest and that was the first issue. Poe reused his “Mellonta Tauta” piece at the beginning of the essay and then went from there using or making up scientific information on a piece entitled “A Prose Poem” that had no poetry and might have been an attempt at humor that unfortunately was too serious for that.

The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket
My rating: 2 out of 5 stars

Poe’s only novel was a bit of this and a bit of that, namely an adventure on the sea and exploring unknown regions. Think of this book as a “dime novel” sorta feel with the American hero smuggled on his friend’s ship only for said ship to have a mutiny then a counter mutiny complicated by the ship being hit by storms then slowly drifting and sinking before Arthur and one fellow sailor are picked up by a passing ship then begin exploring the Southern Seas and finding habitable lands close to the South Pole. Obviously then story trends towards quasi-fantasy today, but as an very old school adventure tale is as passable, but ended abruptly when Pym (whom Poe was writing for) dies with the manuscript incomplete.
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text 2017-08-04 10:29
4th August 2017
The Complete Poems - Percy Bysshe Shelley,Mary Shelley

The sunlight claps the earth, and the moonbeams kiss the sea: what are all these kissings worth, if thou kiss not me? 

 

Percy Bysshe Shelley

 

At the age of 16, English poet Percy Bysshe Shelley (born August 4, 1792) was expelled from Oxford University and disowned by his father. The reason? A little pamphlet he wrote called "The Necessity of Atheism."

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text 2017-08-01 10:27
1st August 2017
The Road Not Taken and Other Poems - Robert Frost

A poem begins as a lump in the throat, a sense of wrong, a homesickness, a lovesickness.

 

Robert Frost

 

August 1, 1915: Robert Frost's The Road Not Taken was first published in the Atlantic Monthly 102 years ago today. While the poem works as a metaphor for the weight we put on turning points in our lives, Frost later insisted the verses were simply inspired by a literal walk in the woods.

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text 2017-08-01 00:12
Reading progress update: I've read 790 out of 1020 pages.
Edgar Allan Poe: Complete tales and poems - Edgar Allan Poe

The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar

My rating: 2 out of 5 stars

 

Mesmerism is once again the focus as well as the transition from life to death, the narrator is a practitioner of the mesmerism and the titular character is the dying man who is mesmerized on the edge of death and stays like that for seven months before being taken out and his body decays rapidly.

 

The Sphinx

My rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

 

Every once and a while Poe springs a surprise by thinking he’s going to do down the same path with the only difference being the scenery when he twists things just at the end to make you enjoy the story though wishing he hadn’t waited until the end.  The narrator’s eyes play tricks on him and makes him believe he’s going insane until his friend sets him straight.

 

The Cask of Amontillado

My rating: 5 out of 5 stars

 

This revenge classic is one of the highlights of the book, hardly any meandering for the narrator, just a plain straightforward story of a man getting revenge and never regretting it.

 

The Domain of Arnheim

My rating: 2 out of 5 stars

 

This is a piece on a garden and the wonder of nature, even if it is created by man, but the beginning is bogged down by a biography of the narrator’s friend who shaped it.  If it had been a straight piece and a fantastical garden I would have enjoyed it more.

 

Mellonta Tauta

My rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars

 

A journal written a 1000 years in the future describes the person’s view of their present and what they think of the past, overall a nice little piece.

 

Landor’s Cottage

My rating: 1 out of 5 stars

 

A “sequel” to The Domain of Arnheim, frankly it was over the top and made me glad to see the end.

 

Hop-Frog

My rating: 4 out of 5 stars

 

A fat dwarf jester, the titular character, gets his revenge on a King and his council after he embarrasses the jester’s only friend, his countrywoman who is also a dwarf.

 

Von Kempelen and His Discovery

My rating: 3 out of 5 stars

 

The narrator spends over half the piece talking about other people instead of Von Kempelen, but once he does we learn that the discovery was the philosopher’s stone and that value of lead and silver have increased as gold’s has decreased.

 

“X-ing a Paragrab”

My rating: 1 out of 5 stars

 

A newspaper starts up in a town with the editor attack the editor the rival established paper, who then retorts back.  The new editor then works to make an excellent comeback but somehow the letter O is missing from the press and X is inserted instead making the comeback unintelligible.  The public reaction is anger and the new editor is gone.  All I can say is this was supposed to be funny, it wasn’t.

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