Today we present 20 books by Edgar Allan Poe to download in PDF format. But first, a little history about this renowned writer.
Edgar Allan Poe (Boston, United States, January 19, 1809 – Baltimore, United States, October 7, 1849) was an American writer, poet, critic, and romantic journalist, generally recognized as one of the universal masters of the short story, of which he was one of the first practitioners in his country.
Orphaned of both parents, Poe went through an irregular education, from the United States to Scotland and England, until his brief stay at the University of Virginia, where he published his first book anonymously, and by the army, publishing his second book.
Poe began working for various newspapers and magazines, which he barely earned a living from. He traveled around several cities in California along with his wife, Virginia Clemm, who was his young cousin. Her death in 1847, barely 24 years old, would mean Poe’s psychological collapse, which resulted in some of his best and darkest works while he abandoned himself to alcohol and drugs.
Prior to his wife’s death, Poe had already been unable to maintain a steady job at the newspapers he worked with because of his alcoholism, which he tried to control. In 1845 he published what would become his most celebrated poem, The Raven.
Poe practiced several genres throughout his literary career, dealing in an almost obsessive way with subjects such as death, burial in life or mourning.
In 1849, Poe appeared disoriented, dressed in clothes that were not his own and wandering the streets of Baltimore. He was taken to a hospital, but could not recover coherent speech to explain what had happened to him. The cause of his death was not clarified and there has been speculation ever since about drug problems, meningitis, syphilis or even rabies.
Poe’s subsequent influence on culture, both popular and academic, has grown over time and nowadays he is an undisputed figure, whose stories have been taken to the cinema on numerous occasions and he has even become a character in numerous books, television episodes or feature films.
Now, here are 20 books by Edgar Allan Poe in PDF format.
1) The Raven
The Raven is a narrative poem written by Edgar Allan Poe and his most famous poetic composition. It was first published in January 1845.
Its musicality, stylized language and supernatural atmosphere are remarkable. It tells of the mysterious visit of a talking raven to the house of a grieving lover and the slow descent into madness of the latter.
It is one of his best known poems and its iconography has been copied and paid homage to on numerous occasions, both in other books and poems and in television programs or films.
2) The Fall of the House of Usher
A young gentleman is invited to the old house of a childhood friend, Roderick Usher, a sickly and eccentric artist who lives completely secluded in the company of his sister, Lady Madeline, also in poor health.
Usher lives in the grip of an indefinable illness, which makes everyone fear for his life. The one who ends up dying is his sister. Her mortal remains are placed in a crypt, but soon terrible events occur that will lead to a tragic end.
The Fall of the House of Usher is one of Edgar Allan Poe’s best known stories and has been adapted for the cinema on several occasions.
3) The Tell-Tale Heart
In this story Edgar Allan Poe explores the doom of human beings by the gratuitous and irrational hatred that is allowed to grow in the hearts of murderers.
The narrator is recounting his performance until he explains his own arrest by the officers and the hatred he felt growing for an old man and his eye.
First published in the literary journal The Pioneer in January 1843 Poe later republished it in his newspaper The Broadway Journal in its August 23, 1845 edition. It is one of his best-known horror stories.
4) The Murders in the Rue Morgue
XIX Century. The barbaric murder of two women, mother and daughter, takes place in an apartment in a populous street in Paris. The first investigations do not give any result, evidencing the impotence of the police to clarify the facts.
Finally, an amateur detective, M. Dupin, takes charge of the matter and, after intense and brilliant investigation, offers an extraordinary explanation.
The Murders in the Rue Morgue, is one of the most important detective stories of Edgar Allan Poe and with which he would lay the foundations of much of the black and criminal genre born in the decades following its publication.
5) The Pit and the Pendulum
The narrator/protagonist begins the story, already exhausted, in a dark cell where the Spanish Inquisition locks up the people it condemns, and where the torture it applies consists of loneliness, abandonment, darkness, cold and hunger.
The tortured protagonist is almost entirely tied up and experiments the anguish of knowing his next death as a pendulum descends towards him. After measuring the size of his cell, he discovers a deep pit with water located in the center of the site.
He is sure that he will be killed by the knife at the end of that pendulum, and he entertains himself with the trajectory of the object, but then an idea occurs to him, remembering that he has at his disposal some meat, food that he shared with the rats.
6) The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket
The protagonist, Arthur Gordon Pym, clandestinely embarks on the whaling ship Grampus. After many experiences and misfortunes (mutinies, shipwrecks, cannibalism, wars with natives) that put his life at risk, he goes into the marvelous landscapes of the Antarctic seas, until he suffers an overwhelming revelation with which the story ends.
The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym is one of the most controversial, strange and enigmatic works of its author, being among the excellent poetic titles with a marine theme, together with Manuscript Found in a Bottle, The Oblong Box and A Descent into Maelström.
In this work, Poe, on board the Grampus, takes those who read him on the wings of his wild imagination to mental and literary regions he has never trodden before, hence the absorbing interest shown in the piece by surrealist writers and literary psychoanalysts of all walks of life.
7) The Black Cat
The Black Cat is a horror story published in the Saturday Evening Post in Philadelphia in its August 19, 1843 issue. Critics consider it one of the most horrifying stories in the history of literature.
A young married couple leads a homely life, peacefully with their cat, until the young man starts to get dragged into the drink. Alcohol makes him irascible and in one of his fits of rage he ends the life of the animal.
A second cat appears on the scene, the family situation worsens, and events rush to a horrendous end.
8) The Masque of the Red Death
The Masque of the Red Death is a story first published in 1842. The story follows Prince Prospero’s attempts to avoid a dangerous plague, known as the Red Death, by hiding in his abbey.
He, along with many other wealthy nobles, organizes a masked ball in seven rooms of the abbey, each decorated in a different color. In the midst of his revelry, a mysterious figure disguised as a victim of the Red Death enters and makes her way through each of the rooms.
Poe’s story follows many traditions of Gothic fiction and is often analyzed as an allegory about the inevitability of death, although some critics advise against an allegorical reading.
9) The Gold-Bug
The adventure, the analytical, the chronological displacement of the narration, the always exact terms: everything contributes to assemble in an unsurpassable way this summit work of the universal literature: The Gold-Bug.
But, between love and despair, misery and hope, sometimes drunk and sometimes sober, Poe wrote another seventy stories, of which this volume offers a careful and representative selection.
A master in the handling of fantastic elements, inventor of the detective novel, ingenious constructor of disturbing environments in which disturbing presences move, Edgar Allan Poe, gradually immersing us in the inseparable horror of being, invites us to try to understand why certainty is only found in dreams.
10) The Purloined Letter
It is the last of three stories starring Detective Auguste Dupin.
The plot as such consists in the fact that a letter has been lost that can harm its owner, to whom it was addressed, if it falls into the wrong hands. Then the Parisian police prefect, seeing that he cannot solve the mystery, decides to ask Dupin for help since it is known who has it but not where the bold thief has hidden it.
With this story, Poe confirmed his mastery of creating intrigues and mysteries, far from his usual Gothic style, and anticipating what would become in time the criminal and detective genre we all know.
11) The Cask of Amontillado
It could be described as one of the writer’s cruelest stories. In the story, revenge is taken to the highest degree, and it is executed with total coldness.
The protagonist commits his crime without any consideration, justifying himself in the offenses that the victim professed to him.
In this book, Poe immerses us once again in the complex labyrinths of the human psyche, forcing us to be accomplices to his story through the recourse of the narrator who addresses us directly. He also involves us with the gaps in the story, which force us to try a possible solution, while leaving the door open to the questions.
12) The Mystery of Marie Roget
The Mystery of Marie Rogêt was first published in Ladies’ Companion magazine in three episodes: November and December 1842, and February 1843.
It is based on the actual murder of Mary Cecilia Rogers, a crime that paralyzed New York due to the unusual violence that the killer poured on the young girl. Marie Roget was a beautiful lady who helped her elderly mother run a boarding house.
Her father had died when she was little. At the age of 22 she entered a perfume shop, capturing the attention of her employer and customers. Her lifestyle was normal, until one day she mysteriously disappeared. Second of the stories starring Detective August C. Dupin, with whom Poe became one of the pioneers of criminal literature.
13) The Bells
The inspiration behind: The Bells, was Marie Louise Shew, a woman who helped Edgar Allan Poe in the care of his wife, Virginia Clemm, during her agony.
After Virginia’s death, Poe fell into a dark period of depression and creative emptiness. Shew suggested that he compose a few verses about the ringing of bells, and he possibly collaborated on the first few verses. With the passage of the verses of Edgar Allan Poe’s The Bells, the plot darkens, filling with suggestive, nocturnal silhouettes.
In a certain way, it works as a kind of lethargy, of induced sleep, which in the sunset of his visions is transformed into a nightmare: the sweet ringing of the bells, sonorous and even colorful at first, becomes a frightening and mournful symphony, like the mechanical hammering of an artificial storm.
The poem is about appropriate behavior on the eve of the death of a young woman, described as “the dead queen who died so young”. The poem concludes: “I will not let out a lament, but watch the angel float in flight with a eulogy of old times!”.
Lenore’s boyfriend, Guy de Vere, finds it inappropriate to mourn Lenore’s death, considering that her ascent to a new world should be celebrated. Contrary to most of Poe’s poems about dead women, this one implies the possibility of a meeting in paradise.
The poem may have been Poe’s way of dealing with his wife Virginia’s illness. However, the dead woman’s name could be a reference to Poe’s recently deceased brother, William Henry Leonard Poe.
15) William Wilson
William Wilson discovers in the school that there is a student with his same name and surname, entered the same day as him in the school and was born on the same date as his birthday.
The superiority that his alter ego exercises over him begins to become an obsession… William Wilson is one of Poe’s classic stories, in which the Baltimore writer becomes one of the pioneers by presenting us with the figure of the double, the other self, the one that at any moment can take away the most precious thing in our lives, that is, identity.
Poe’s masterly psychological portrait can be found in several of his most famous anthologies.
16) A Descent into the Maelström
It is inspired by the Maelström phenomenon, a whirlpool off the coast of Norway, formed by the conjunction of the strong currents that cross the Moskenstraumen and the great amplitude of the tides.
The story itself is a story within a story, told from the top of an abyss. The narrator tells that one day he went to sea with two of his brothers, when a terrible hurricane broke out, trapping the ship in its vortex. The two brothers died, while the narrator fell into the center of the whirlpool and was amazed at what he saw.
He threw himself into the water, holding on to a barrel. After a vague time, he was hoisted overboard on a boat of his acquaintances who did not recognize him.
17) MS. Found in a Bottle
A short story for which Edgar Allan Poe received a literary prize of $50, an amount that may seem derisory today, but in the early 19th century it brought the Baltimore author a small fortune that led him to be able to devote himself more comfortably to writing.
In spite of everything, this money was insufficient in the long run and Poe always worked passing certain economic hardships until the end of his days.
It tells of the surprising adventure of a young passenger who becomes the sole survivor of the atrocious phenomena of the sea and of the discoveries he makes on the ship, in search of the origins of what happened and its consequences.
Tamerlane is a poem that follows a fictional tale of the life of a Turkish conqueror historically known as Tamerlane. The poem was first published in the 1827 collection “Tamerlane and Other Poems”.
The name is a Latinized version of “Timur Lenk”, the 14th century warlord who founded the Timurid Empire.
Tamerlane ignores the young love he feels for a peasant girl to achieve power. On his deathbed, he regrets this decision to create “a kingdom [in exchange] for a broken heart. The peasant girl is called Ada in most of the original version of Poe’s poem, although she is removed and added to throughout its many revised versions. The name “Ada” is probably a reference to Ada Lovelace, the daughter of Lord Byron, a renowned poet whom Poe admired.
Unlike the poem Annabel Lee, the narrator is not aware of his return to the grave of his beloved, which reveals his dependence on Ulalume and his love.
His loss not only leaves him sad, but also utterly devastated, and by visiting his grave, he unconsciously faces greater self-inflicted anguish. The poem focuses mainly on decay and deterioration: the leaves are “withering” and the narrator’s thoughts are “slow”.
The verses are purposefully sound, built around the sound to create sadness and anguish. The poem employs Poe’s typical theme, “the death of a beautiful woman”, which he considered “the most poetic theme in the world. Several biographers and critics have often suggested that the author’s obsession with the theme stems from the repeated loss of women throughout his life, including his mother Eliza Poe and his adopted mother Frances Allan.
The story can be included within Poe’s tales of revenge, along with “The Cask of Amontillado”. As in the latter, the killer escapes without seeing his crime punished.
The story uses Hop-Frog’s teeth chirping as a symbolic element, just before designing his revenge plan, and again after executing it. Poe often uses the teeth as a sign linked to mortality, as in the lips twisting over the teeth of the hypnotized man in “The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar” and the morbid obsession with ”Berenice’s teeth”.
The Hop-Frog jester, like Poe, was ” kidnapped from his home and presented to the king” (his adopted father, the opulent John Allan), “with a name not conferred at his baptism, but imposed”.