First Lines: Spirits of the Dead

Spirits of the Dead: Tales and Poems would have been significantly improved if its editors, in their inestimable wisdom, had put the story Mellonta Tauta at the very front of this collection of poems and tales of Edgar Allen Poe. You see, this story starts with an all too perfect description of this volume’s contents:

Now, my dear friend—now, for your sins, you are to suffer the infliction of a long gossiping letter. I tell you distinctly that I am going to punish you for all your impertinences by being as tedious, as discursive, as incoherent and as unsatisfactory as possible.

And by the Sweet Sacred Holy Mother of All Things Bright and Shiny that Glitter like a Sparkly Rainbow in the Dewy Morning Light, how true is that? Poetry doesn’t do much for me, so the first half of the book wasn’t exactly something I enjoyed. All the O!‘s and Ah!‘s got very annoying very fast, and while I am certainly not against the liberal use of em-dashes—I’ve been known to throw them about quite a bit myself—enough is enough already.

And there are the tales. None of Poe’s classic stories like The Tell-Tale Heart, Murders in the Rue Morgue, A Descent into the Maelström or The Fall of the House of Usher were included, and very few of those that were seemed to rise above what I’d label as second-rate fare. Quite tedious, indeed. Even though I doubt whether this experience was entirely worth the effort, I still might need to take a shot at the classic Poe, but I’m not in a hurry.

(For those of you who wonder why I picked up this book in the first place: I was looking for a copy of The Raven—which is more than awesome—and this book was dead cheap. Since then I’ve found an even better edition with illustrations by Gustave Doré.)

Still I made it through, so I can now cross if from my list of unfinished books.

Edgar Allen Poe — Spirits of the Dead: Tales and Poems
The happiest day—the happiest hour / My sear’d and blighted heart hath known, / The highest hope of pride and power, / I feel hath flown