Between horror and perversion: Tales by Edgar Allan Poe
Tales of the Grotesque and Arabesque is a collection of Poe’s tales, published for the first time in 1840. Today, it is a milestone in classic literature and it is constantly republished. Thanks to the combination of an extraordinary imagination
Tales of the Grotesque and Arabesque is a collection of Poe’s tales, published for the first time in 1840. Today, it is a milestone in classic literature and it is constantly republished. Thanks to the combination of an extraordinary imagination and an analytical intellect, it made an impact on many generations of readers.
It is usually assumed that Tales of arabesque are gothic, horror stories, while Tales of grotesque are comically-ironic ones. Nevertheless, Gary R. Thompson, one of Poe’s scholars, argued that all what Poe ever wrote is steeped in romantic irony.
In tales such as MS. Found in a Bottle, The Fall of the House of Usher and Loss of Breath, Poe shows the limited perception of human mind.
In his opinion, man can’t be sure about anything in the world around him, as it is deceptive, while Providence has been replaced by The Imp of the Perverse.
Above all, Poe shows that man can’t rely on himself. The Narrator of Poe’s tales is someone you are not supposed to trust. At the beginning of almost every story he confesses his insanity – caused by alcohol, drugs or mental illness. Then he describes extraordinary and unbelievable events, leaving the reader to his great amazement.
Poe was convinced that the purpose of a piece of art is to create a highly emotional response of the reader, as he argued in The philosophy of Composition. He also claimed that the death of a beautiful girl is the most effecttive motive of literature. This is why it became the theme of many of Poe’s stories: Berenice, Morella, Ligeia, The Oval Portrait, The Black Cat.
In addition to the “Tales of horror or imagination”, scholars identify the “Tales of ratiocination”, represented by three detective stories: The Murders in the rue Morge, The Mystery of Marie Rogêt, and The Purloined Letter, which, by the way, are the first detective stories in history of modern literature. The main character August Dupin is the first detective to use the science of deduction and he is considered as the prototype of Sherlock Holmes.
Author: Edgar Allan Poe