Selected Stories

by Edgar Allan Poe

4 of 5 stars 1 rating • 1 review • 1 shelved
Book cover for Selected Stories

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Selected Stories

by Edgar Allan Poe

4 of 5 stars 1 rating • 1 review • 1 shelved

In 'The Fall of the House of Usher' and 'The Black Cat' he wrote the first and best tales of terror; with 'The Murders in the Rue Morgue' and his fictional detective M. Dupin he invented the detective story; and tales such as 'MS. Found in a Bottle' and 'Von Kempelen and His Discovery' pioneered modern science-fiction.

As readers will discover, Poe possessed an unrivalled capacity to create atmosphere and suspense, and to probe the dark depths of the human psyche. All the stories in this volume push back the boundaries, making the improbable possible, the familiar terrifying and strange.

  • Publish Date 1969 (first published 1 December 1962)
  • Publish Status Out of Print
  • Publish Country GB
  • Imprint Heron Books
  • Edition Heron Books
  • Format Hardcover (Leather-bound (imitation))
  • Pages 393
  • Language English
  • Special Collector's Edition


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I bought this book with the sole intent of reading only the mystery stories, as I was interested in Conan Doyle's inspiration for Holmes. I enjoyed them all, and it's obvious that Homes is indeed based on Dupin, although Dupin does love the sound of his own voice and I still prefer Homes. 

Review of Murders in the Rue Morgue: 

I picked up this tome several months ago with no intention of ever reading the whole thing - I'm not a fan of horror and after the required reading of The Tell-Tale Heart and The Cask of Amontillado in high school, I knew that while Poe might have been brilliant he was also tapped into a very scary place in his soul.

But he's also the father of the murder mystery and I had never read any of his Dupin stories.  Doyle was supposed to have based Holmes on Dupin and given my love for Holmes it seemed remiss of me to not read Dupin.  So I bought this book for a bargain price with the intention of only reading the three stories included that represented his work in the mystery genre.

I started with Murders in the Rue Morgue last night.  I'll own up to my own ignorance: I really thought they took place in a morgue (yes, I know rue is French street but it's Poe and his setting a story in an actual morgue seemed obvious).  The influence on Doyle's creation of Holmes is immediately and unarguably apparent.  Even the narrator is the obvious inspiration for Watson, right down to his awed admiration of Dupin's deductive skills.

But boy howdy! does Dupin like the sound of his own voice.  What Holmes would have said in 2 or 3 sentences, Dupin used 2-3 pages to expound upon.  I have to admit I prefer Holmes' brevity and conciseness over Dupin's unarguable logic and detail.

I started to guess the murderer when Dupin started to point out the oddness of witness reports concerning the second voice heard right before the scene of the murder was entered.  It seemed fantastic, but then I turned the page and an illustration gave the game away and proved me correct.  

It is without a doubt, a brilliant piece of literature, and I'm looking forward to the other two mystery stories in the book The Mystery of Marie Rogêtand The Gold Bug.  But Holmes remains, unapologetically, the favorite of my mind and my heart.

Review of The Gold Bug (4 stars): 

The second of the stories I've chosen to read from my edition of Edgar Allan Poe's Selected Tales, The Gold Bug is so much fun!!  It's an adventure and it involves pirates and buried treasure, what's not to like?

Well, the blatant racism would be what is not to like.  The vernacular of Jupiter too, while it may or may not be accurate to the times, was almost impossible to read without stumbling.  Richard B. Fisher wrote in the introduction "one does not accept the author's prejudices in acknowledging his genius".  I suppose this is true - the story is a work of literary genius - but my enthusiasm for the story was dented nonetheless and so I gave it 4 stars instead of 5.

Review of Mystery of Marie Rogêt (3 stars): 

Hands down, no argument from me, Poe is a genius.  Whatever problems, challenges or shortcomings he had, his intelligence was not one of them.

But while I can appreciate the genius and the intellect that went into this story, I still found it tedious to the extreme.  Dupin (who is, in my personal opinion, Poe's alter ego), absolutely loves the sound of his own voice and fully 85% of the story is his detailed lecture on the inaccuracies of a number of newspapers and the articles they wrote covering the murder.  It is by this method that Dupin arrives at a solution that everyone else has overlooked.

Except the story ends in a frustratingly unsatisfactory way.  I read the last paragraph and was left with "wtf?!?"

I'm going to mark this book as finished now, because I've read what I set out to read.  But I wish I'd finished with The Gold Bug rather than this one; I feel like I've gone out on a weak note for Poe.  HIs genius is evident in this one, but the appeal is not.