It has been a while since reading Poe and now I remember why I was so enthralled with him when first introduced by a marvelous 8th grade teacher. I was a little worried that I wouldn’t feel quite the same, but it was like returning to a long forgotten place that still invigorates the senses.
Poe manages to completely intrigue his reader in just an opening sentence or two. That monumental ability will allow his works to be enjoyed in perpetuity.
A man receives a letter requesting a visit from an old boyhood friend who seems to be in failing health. Even before his arrival, the narrator begins to feel unsettled and senses this will not be a pleasant reunion.
Little is revealed about the narrator other than his friendship with Usher and his appreciation for books and music. His friend’s condition seems to initially escape him until he begins to question his own sanity.
Roderick Usher is suffering a number of maladies including hypochondria, ultrasensitivity to light and sound and an evident descent into madness. He only seems to be calmed with books and music.
Twin sister to Roderick, Lady Madeline is said to be quite ill, with no known origin and one wonders if her brother may have a hand in her illness. When her suffering seems to come to end, it is, in fact only beginning.
With Poe’s literary references to Gresset, Machiavelli, Swedenborg, etc., I’d certainly feel narrowly read and would try to discuss his writing methods instead. While a tete a tete in an isolated locale would likely be ideal, I think instead I’d choose a more populated destination for our meeting.
My rating for The Fall of the House of Usher is a 10 out of 10.
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Next up, Edgar Allan Poe’s The Pit and the Pendulum…