The Fall of the House of Usher by Edgar Allan Poe

UsherThe Fall of the House of Usher is one of the books from my classic club list and is also probably one of those books where most people are already more than familiar with the story.

The book is only a short story, probably about 50 pages and originally published in 1839 is considered to be one of Poe’s most famous works and a perfect example of his ability to make every sentence and reference meaningful.

The premise of the story is the failing line of the House of Usher.  The whys and wherefores of this are never discussed but clearly the family seems to be doomed or cursed – or at least they believe themselves to be so!

At the start of the story the narrator is asked to visit his friend Roderick who believes himself to be terminally ill.  Even though the two are best friends they haven’t seen each other for many years and so it comes as a surprise to the narrator to find Roderick in such a poor condition!  It comes as an even greater surprise to find that he has a twin sister who herself seems to be suffering from a severe condition and in fact dies within days of the narrator’s arrival and is placed in a tomb in the cellars of the Usher Mansion.

I won’t go any further in terms of the plot as this is only a short story.

For me this was a reread, and on top of that I have also seen the Vincent Price movie and read a re-imagining of the story called The Fall by Bethany Griffin.  I think having read this in what I like to consider my ‘romantic’ years – in that I now romanticise all of those books and love them unconditionally – it was good to go back and check this out to see how I feel about it now.

I would probably say that whilst I don’t find this as creepy as I did on my first read, and I also don’t imagine many horror readers in this age will find it scary, it still has a fantastically gothic feel.  The tone of the writing, which no doubt appears flowery and excessive compared to modern books, is actually a style that I love to revisit.  I can read a book like this with almost a voice over running inside my head as though I’m being told the tale (like one of those old movies that starts off with a voice over – there’s just something so story time about it!).  It’s just so wonderfully old fashioned and ornate and yet at the same time, being a short novel, incredibly meaningful in what it manages to pack into such a limited space.

A macabre tale, peopled with fragile minds, heightened psychosis and fuelled by massive hypochondria set in a bleak environment in a dark and dilapidated mansion that adds fuel to an already overburdened mind.  Were the Ushers under a curse, is the house sentient or is the mind a powerful instrument that can indeed lead to self fulfilling prophecies of doom.

This is, as I said, only a short story.  The words need to be savoured and it is in no way a slasher type of story.  The horror in this story comes from the mind and the tortures it can create – or does it?

What this has definitely succeeded in doing is making me want to revisit some more of Poe’s work which I will definitely do in the future as I’d like to compare the feelings I now have for the stories.

TCC

 

 

 

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15 Responses to “The Fall of the House of Usher by Edgar Allan Poe”

  1. Cathy746books

    I’ve seen this as a stage play but have never read the book. Sounds great though!

    • @lynnsbooks

      It’s very good and has a great impact considering it’s only a short book. Atmospheric and gothic.
      Lynn 😀

  2. jessicabookworm

    I am glad you enjoyed your read and ticked another book off your Classics Club list. Because of popular culture I roughly know Poe’s stores but I am yet to read one myself.

    • @lynnsbooks

      This is only short and rereading it I could have happily read a longer version! But Poe has a way of packing a lot into a little space. Dark and gothic.
      Lynn 😀

  3. maddalena@spaceandsorcery

    These works are called ‘classics’ for a reason, indeed. No matter how much time passed since their creation, they retain some form of timelessness that helps us appreciate them even when we grow accustomed to a very different style of writing.

  4. Mogsy @ BiblioSanctum

    Oh what a classic! But I think that’s the problem with dark books written a long time ago, I don’t think many horror readers in this day and age will find it creepy either, we’re exposed to so much worse these days 😛

    • @lynnsbooks

      Haha – yes, people want the slashers don’t they. I like the psychological I must admit.
      Lynn 😀

  5. Rebecca

    Love Edgar Allen Poe- his stories are some of the only classics I actually enjoy! My favorite is the Masque of the Red Death.

    • @lynnsbooks

      Ohh, that shall be my next then – thanks! Did you read any of the retellings – I read one for the House of Usher and the same author I think also did a retelling of the Red Death.
      Lynn 😀

      • Rebecca

        I didn’t even know retellings of these existed until you mentioned one! 😀

      • @lynnsbooks

        I quite enjoyed it and might go back and read the other retelling I have.
        Lynn 😀

  6. Lisa (@TenaciousReader)

    You know, I have always said I grew up loving horror, but I never read “slasher” type of stuff. Its part of the reason why I never liked giving a label to it. Poe is one of those required authors I had to read in high school and found I really loved them.

    • @lynnsbooks

      Ahh, interesting – he’s almost understated isn’t he? Did you like the Usher book?

  7. April: My Month in Review | Books and travelling with Lynn

    […] The Fall of the House of Usher by Edgar Allan Poe […]

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