A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Edgar Allan Poe's works are often required reading at the middle school or high school level. Poe is considered the originator of detective fiction, and one of the most important proponents of short fiction. His intense and beautifully written stories focus on the macabre -- themes of murder, sickness, darkness, and danger abound. Many of the stories are violent and extremely frightening: People (dead or alive) are hidden in walls by madmen, torn or cut to pieces, or tortured under unbearable conditions. Poe's poetry, while not nearly as violent, also emphasizes death, often depicting the death of a loved one or a terrible feeling of loss.
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What's the story?
Edgar Allan Poe (1809-1849) produced numerous works of remarkable quality in his short life. His childhood was troubled by his father's abandonment of the family, and the death of Poe's mother when he was only 2. Poe then lived with foster parents. As an adult, Poe had a checkered military career before finding success as a writer and editor. He married his 13-year-old cousin, Virginia Clemm, in 1835, but lost her to tuberculosis when she was only 20. Much of Poe's published work is said to be influenced by the death of his young wife. This collection, GREAT TALES AND POEMS OF EDGAR ALLAN POE, includes 13 of his best-known short stories (\"The Tell-Tale Heart,\" \"The Black Cat,\" \"The Fall of the House of Usher,\" \"The Pit and the Pendulum,\" etc.) and 25 poems, including famous works such as \"The Raven,\" and \"Annabel Lee.\" Poe's writings tend toward themes of murder, sickness, and death. Even his lyrical, beautiful poetry is extremely morbid. Considered a member of the Romantic movement, Edgar Allan Poe is also known as the originator of detective fiction.
Is it any good?
Edgar Allan Poe's short stories can be grim, gory, and terrifying, but wonderfully so. His brilliance lies not only in his fertile, drug-enhanced imagination, but also in his insight into the ways people think and feel; he had a remarkable talent for going inside a character's descent into madness, or his most desperate loneliness. Great Tales and Poems of Edgar Allan Poe offers a fine representation of Poe's horror stories, such as "The Tell-Tale Heart," "The Black Cat," and "The Masque of the Red Death," as well as his early detective fiction ("The Murders in the Rue Morgue") and harrowing adventures ("A Descent into the Maelstrom"). The 25 poems in this collection include many of Poe's most famous, and heartbreakingly beautiful works: "The Raven," "The Bells, "Lenore," "Annabel Lee," and more.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the fantastical element of "The Black Cat." Are the cat's markings real, an alcoholic delusion, or a manifestation of guilt?
What does "The Raven" represent? What sort of emotions does the poem's narrator experience?
What other writers' works do you think may have been influenced by Poe's early detective fiction?
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