The Pit and the Pendulum: Edgar Allan Poe and the Short Story

Bound in glorious purple, this new edition of Edgar Allan Poe’s tales from Oxford World’s Classics reprints some neglected Poe tales among the usual classics

Edgar Allan Poe has a claim to being the originator of the modern short story. Not only has the earliest use of that very term, ‘short story’, been attributed to him, but he stands at the beginning of a long tradition of short fiction which would only take off in British publishing in the closing decades of the nineteenth century and which was only just beginning in America in the 1840s, when Poe put his mark on it. Among the other pioneers of the short story at this time, only Nathaniel Hawthorne comes close to Poe’s achievement.

And what an achievement. With only a modicum of distress I could resign myself to a world without Poe’s poetry, even the much-quoted ‘The Raven’, and…

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