Summary: extraordinary stories of Edgar Allan Poe

With this title and also the of extraordinary stories are known accounts of American writer Edgar Allan Poe, who, originally published in different journals, were later collected in two volumes: Tales of the grotesque and the Arabesque (Tales of the Grotesque and Arabesque, Philadelphia, 1840) and short stories (Tales, New York, 1845). Translated by Baudelaire after 1848 and presented to the French public under the title of Histoires extraordinaires and Nouvelles histoires extraordinairessoon became universally famous.
Hawthorne and Melville, Poe belongs to that period of American literature between 1840 and the civil war, in which the spirit of the country sought and was trying to open step and transform the experience in expression, through evasion, pain and restlessness. Of the three, Poe is who undoubtedly possesses a temperament more turbulent and morbid: dreamer and strange to the current passions, manages to create an unreal world in which the fantastic horror does not exclude lucidity, which expresses perfectly with its admirable style, pure and daring, "tight - says Baudelaire - like meshes of a suit of armor".

Poe in 1848 image
A vigorous and thorough analysis faculty joins in Poe a wonderfully fertile imagination. Their stories, ranging from the shadow of the mystery and the analysis of the details, demonstrates its ability to give life and expression to those dark regions extending from the extreme limits of the probable to the mysterious confines of superstition and unreality. The extraordinary stories make up stories of varied subject matter and different tone; However, and with the risk of arbitrariness, it is possible to classify them into groups by related features.
In a first group, consisting of some narrations almost all youth, the author is carried by a strong inclination towards the possibilities of the technique, which leads (frequent fad of the time) to relate all the situations of his stories, even the less susceptible, with the advances of the different Sciences. Thus, in the adventures of a such Hans Pfaal (The adventures of one Hans Pfaal) tells us the fantastic journey the character takes place in a balloon built by himself, which will reach the moon. And the news sensational balloon (The Balloon-Goase) describes a crossing of the Atlantic in three days of storm, manning a balloon whose structure is thoroughly detailed.
In tales such as those mentioned, Poe is ahead of the modern literature of science fiction: the similarity of his arguments with the later novels of Julio Verne is glaring. The discovery of von Kempelen (Von Kempelen and his Discovery), is following the attempts of an alchemist seeking to transform low value metals into gold. And in a descent into the Maelstrom (A descent into the Maelstrom), a sailor whose boat is wrapped in a whirlwind, it saves getting into a barrel and drifting, relying on the principle according to which a cylinder that floats in a whirlwind resists more than any other body force of attraction.
The supposedly scientific can, however, be diluted before the emergence of closer to the magical or supernatural elements. In the manuscript found in a bottle (MS. Found in a Bottle), the scientific reason for the exploration of the unknown polar lands merges with the fantastic element of the phantom ship, perpetually in equilibrium at the edge of the abyss. And in disclosure mesmerica (Mesmerie Revelation) and the truth about the case of Mr Waldemar (The Facts in the Case of Mr. Waldemar), is the issue of Spiritism and the possibility to keep in life, through the hypnotic state, to beings that have died physically, thus touching the mystery of the most there.
Metzengerstein, history of a horse that is reborn through flames that destroyed a painting and make die in the fire to the new owner, and a tale of rugged mountains (A Tale of the Ragged Mountains), in which the protagonist, walking by the abrupt American mountains, revives, in the midst of an oriental decor, the scene of the battle in which under another name died a hundred years before they try to metempsychosis.
A second group would be made up by a series of narratives that could be qualified as "horror, passion and terror". While the author himself said that "there are certain topics of interest, but too horrible for the purpose of a legitimate fiction", Edgar Allan Poe incurs them willingly, as in the premature burial (The premature Burial), which insists on the terror of being buried alive, citing examples and experiences. The pit and the pendulum (The Pit and the Pendulum) is a morbid description of the horrors of the Inquisition; the condemned, lying on the edge of a well, sees approaching, with the rhythm of a pendulum, the edge of a scythe that cuts her chest.

The tell-tale heart (illustration by Harry Clarke)
This group contains the stories that are most associated with Poe as great master of literature of terror. The end of the mask of the Red death (The Masque of the red Death) is a harrowing and amazing view. The Red death, a terrible plague ravaging the Kingdom. At the end of a splendid celebration organized by the Prince, who has locked up with his entourage at a castle to escape the plague, appears the ghost of the Red death, which, with its mere presence, spread and kill all those who had tried to evade it.
The previous tale can still be read as a punishment to the selfishness and arrogance of the Prince and his courtiers. However, the motive of revenge coldly calculated and executed with impunity is the basis of some of his more macabre stories. Hop-Frog, the jester a fiendishly cruel spirit, come from the palatial sporting to its coast, inducing is them, through a tragic joke, dusted with resin, which then set on fire. And the protagonist of the barrel of amontillado (The Cask of Amontillado), after having reflected long and hard his revenge, wall living to which offended him on the wall of his winery, where has attracted him with the excuse of make you taste a wine which is said an expert connoisseur.
Such amorality contrasts with the consciousness of guilt that drag some characters. The spirit of the perverse (The Imp of the Perverse) examines the paradoxical spirit of the protagonist, who, after having committed an offence that is perfect, without leaving any trace, you feel obsessed to the point that just by confessing it. The feeling of guilt, in the form of a black cat, pursues the killer of a woman in the black cat (The Black Cat). And in the tell-tale heart (The Telltale Heart), criminal confesses the murder when you think hear beat the heart of the victim, whose body had been hidden under a wooden floor.
William Wilson, the real 'I', haunted by a feeling of guilt and unable to bear any longer the weight of their own sins and weaknesses, conceives a double which shall be, at the same time, the instigator and the indirect author of all their ills: romantic motive which we find in Musset, Chamisso, Hoffmann and Wilde. And in the fall of the House of Usher (The Fall of the House of Usher), another of his most celebrated tales, horror comes, first of all, the atmosphere, the atmosphere surrounding the Castle as a pestífero steam, by which the House seems to identify with the fate of its inhabitants: with them disappears in the murky waters of the pond.
Another group of stories insist the motive of female vampirism; for Poe, a morbid feeling, the passion of love is a need for possession ending in the destruction and death. Ligeia, symbol of an exalted will about the limits of human power, in the eyes of the dead woman revived in the eyes of another woman; Berenice, the Faculty of abnormal and morbid attention, focus entirely on teeth, to inspire a macabre crime; Morella, a woman is reincarnated in the body of his own daughter.
In the oval portrait (The Oval Portrait), a painter kills slowly and unconsciously to the woman who loves while he makes a portrait, unaware that to give life to the picture steals it the original. The appointment (The Assignation) is, with the romantic background of a Venetian night, the story of two unhappy lovers who, despite living far away, get poisoned at the same time. The oblong box (The Oblong Box) is the medium that employs an enamored husband to take with you, through the seas, the corpse of his wife, sinking with it during a snowstorm. Leonora, the initial vampirism is attenuated by a vivid sense of the beauty of nature; similar sense is that gives rise to some narrations in which obsession seems to be mitigated with the quiet description of the landscape, as in the fairy island (The Island of the Fay), the castle of Arnheim (The Domain of Arnheim) and Landor House (Landor completo Cottage).
Other stories could be described as "grotesque", as two thousand Scherezade night (The Thousand and Second Tale of Scherezade), which demonstrates that truth is stranger than fiction and modern inventions and some rare nature phenomena may seem implausible an ignorant spirit; or Dr. tar and feather Professor system (The System of Dr. Tar and Professor Feather), in which it describes us, not without a taste of melancholy irony, a Madhouse where fools make physicians and doctors are treated like crazy.
Tone burlesque are, in turn, glasses (The Spectacles), history of a short-sighted, who, not wanting to go through such, is about to marry her own great-grandmother; The Duke of l' omelet, where the protagonist, after his death, discusses and rushes to the devil, ending with return to Earth; The devil in the belfry (The Devil in the Belfry), narrative of an unusual incident in a quiet hamlet of Holland; and three Sundays in a week (Three Sundays in a Week), tale that draws its humour from the difference in latitudes.

The Morgue street crimes (illustration by Harry Clarke)
In a final group of narratives, the action is linked to a particularly acute and exceptional exercise of the analytic faculty, which leads to the resolution of an intricate Riddle. In the gold bug (The Gold Bug), the interpretation of a cryptogram traced on a piece of parchment allows to discover a hidden treasure. Edgar Allan Poe is considered the inaugurador narration police by three of the stories contained in this group, all them by Augusto Dupin, that with his acute insight manages to solve seemingly intractable problems.
All three are true gems of the genre. The Morgue street crimes (The Murders in the Rue Morgue) tells the savage murder of two women, which fails to discover the police, since they have been committed by a gorilla; the mystery of Marie Roget (The Mystery of Marie Roget) reconstructs the story of a girl who mysteriously disappeared and murdered, and the purloined letter (The purloined Letter) will reach to the discovery of an important document that had been hidden by the paradoxical mechanism to expose it.
Extracted from the website: Biografías y Vidas
Biographies of historical figures and personalities

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