Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Lunchtime read: Selected Tales

Well the Poe finally comes to an end and despite the dark, supernatural and often gruesome content it has been an enjoyable ride.

What makes it something you stick with (apart from the commitment to read it and review it for the Penguin Classics blog) is that the writing is so good. You feel that this is a man on the cusp of something new almost every time he picks up his pen and along with helping develop certain genres he is also showing on every page an enquiring mind.

In the same way that ghost and horror stories grew out of crossing that line between the natural and supernatural there is a sense here that Poe is keen to investigate the thought process and the reaction to stories about murder, ghosts and spirits and near death experiences. What comes out of it is a sense sometimes of unease but equally unlike fiction based in bolted down reality there is an excitement because you never know quite what will happen next.

As a result it is quite easy to read stories that you suspect will have a nasty ending which in fact don’t and others that leave you wondering why Poe chose to focus on certain details when he appeared to have a narrative that could have gone in various different directions.

Highlights from The Domain of Arnheim
A man who comes into a very substantial fortune decides to spend all of his money on landscaping an area to master nature. He spends years trying to find the right spot and then Poe gives a description of the experience that the public would go through winding through streams and through different flora and fauna environments. The man dies but leaves a legacy of a transformed environment in the area of Arnheim, proving that he has been able to manipulate nature/

Highlights from Von Kempelen and His Discovery
An odd starting story that only really becomes clear at the very end with Von Kempelen being able to change lead into gold. As a result the suspicion is that the scientist will not be able to keep his secret for long so the price of lead shoots through the roof.

A review will follow by the end of the week…

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