A couple of years ago I bought a rather thick book titled ‘the selected works of Edgar Allan
Poe’. This publication was on sale at one of those discount book shops. It
has a rich red cover with a very prominent drawing of a raven or crow on the front. Of course, I was attracted by the fact that I had read ‘the Raven’ and had
even adopted it as my nickname online. See my very first
Anyway, I had never read much else of Poe’s prose so I decided to one
day give it a go. Well, it sure has been a mammoth effort but I have finally finished reading the entire book. It amazes me how I persevered with it given the old style English with some Latin and French thrown in for good measure. I am attracted to things
a little dark but this took every inch of my being to the brink. The brink of giving up and not finishing but I managed to pull through and have come to the end. The range of stories is amazing to me, that one man could have written so much in a lifetime is beyond my trifling efforts.
The one question that does arise after putting down this book is: How did anyone ‘select’ these
works for publication and what audience were they hoping to attract? At 786 pages of short stories and prose surely a shorter version would have been more acceptable to the
general reading public?? I honestly can’t see how many people would have this on their bookshelves. Do people even have bookshelves these days with e-readers and so
many other digital distractions? However if you do a quick look on the internet will turn up all sorts of things about the author, fan pages and even moody voodoo type dolls.
I wouldn’t say it makes good bedtime reading as some
of the subject material is dark, to say the least. Unless you were used to the very old use of the English language and the sprinkling of other languages you would be struggling. I’m sorry Harper Collins Publishing but I can’t see this being a best seller not even a book that will limp
off the shelves. I know that you want to get as much literature out there as possible and that is your stock and trade but this book is way too thick for a ‘selected
I was struggling, I had almost put this book away many times and there were long periods when I didn’t even venture to touch it. It ended up being one of those,
‘I want to finish but I just can’t bring myself to even pick it up’ kind of books. However, after a recent move it is about the only book I have to
hand and so I was determined to finish it. I am not one to just turn to the end pages and be satisfied, I have to read it all the way through, besides this is a bunch of
short stories so that theory would not work anyway.
So, I have just finished reading a book it probably took the author a lifetime to write given that it is a bunch of short stories some of which interlock. I didn’t
necessarily enjoy the book but I did see it as an intellectual challenge. I am used to reading philosophy or non-fiction so going back to fiction was a leap for me. Do I feel enriched by the experience? Not really!
I understand that he wrote at a time when the use of language was different and for his audience this may have been spot on. It did
give me an insight into the author of my favourite poem and for that I am glad that I persevered. Now that I think about it, maybe I should get one of those ‘moodyvoody’ dolls so I can say “Why, Oh Why??!!”
a modern audience this would need some serious interpretation. The best thing to be said for my reading of this voluminous publication is that ‘The Raven’ is
reproduced at the end. There are few stories in the collection that do not contain dark subject matter. I’m thinking here of tales such as ‘The Landscape Garden’ but most would fit well the term ‘Gothic’. When I say ‘dark’
I do not necessarily mean death and destruction just an exploration of the dark parts of the human psyche. This book is certainly not politically correct, there is talk of
slaves, dwarves and sometimes these are pictured as less than human. Again this should be taken in context of the time that these were written, so Word Up to Poe’s