BLACK TALES

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Data:02.02.2007
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Testo

BLACK TALES

Author profile: Edgard Allan Poe was born in Boston, Massachusetts, in 1809 and totally abandoned when he was two and a half years old. He was raised by the John Allan family of Richmond. Poe received a respectable primary education but he left University because Allan refused to help him.
During his late teen years, he went to live with his aunt in Baltimore; in this time, Edgard began to experiment writing gothic tales and then took the job as an editor on a Richmond magazine.
In 1827 he published his first volume of writing and continued to write poems, tales and essays.
After eight years, Poe married his cousin Virginia, a girl of thirteen, in order to secure a home for his aunt, the mother of his wife. Unfortunately, Virginia died when she was only twenty-five years old.
In 1837, Edgard Allan Poe spent eighteen months in New York unsuccessfully looking for jobs but frequently free-lancing his work. However, his talents pervaded once again and he was offered an editorial position in Philadelphia. Here, Poe wrote such stories as "Ligeia" and "The Fall of the House of Usher" but his drinking again interrupted his work and he was forced to leave the magazine.
In 1844 he moved and settled in New York. During this time, he wrote his most famous poem: "The Raven".
On a business trip to New York, Poe stopped in Baltimore where he was found dead unconscious on a street. After a few days, Poe died of pneumonia.
Poe's career as a writer has left a magnificent imprint on the literary world. He is best known as the author of some of the best horror stories ever written.

First edition: These stories were written by Edgar Allan Poe in 1830s and the first edition for the publishing house La Spiga appeared in 1994.

Narrative modes: The book is structured in three short stories; in each text the author very often uses brief dialogues and ample descriptive parts.

Narrator: In the texts we have a first person narrator who tells us the course of facts.

THE FALL OF THE HOUSE OF USHER

Setting of the story: The story begins on one dull, dark, and soundless day in autumn, in an isolated house near to a lake. The year and the place where the facts develop are not described.

Description of the main characters:
• The narrator is the protagonist of this story and he doesn’t believe in the supernatural. He observes his friend who looks like very ill.
• Roderick Usher is incredibly strange and he believes in the supernatural. He studies books to find an answer for his spiritual beliefs and he’s considered "a lost drunkard". Roderick is a narrator’s friend.
• Lady Madeline is the sister of Roderick and looks like a spirit. She never talks or makes noise.

Plot: The narrator approached the House of Usher on a "dull, dark, and soundless day." This house was very gloomy and mysterious. The narrator reveals that he is here to stay with his friend Roderick who was very ill. He sent him a letter asking for his company.
The narrator noted that his friend was paler and less energetic than he once was. Roderick told him that he suffered from nerves and fear; also his sister, Madeline Usher has taken ill with a mysterious illness that the doctors cannot even identify.
The narrator spent several days trying to cheer Roderick. He listened to Roderick play the guitar, he read to Roderick, he sat with him for hours…
Soon, Madeline died, and Roderick decided to bury her temporarily in the tombs below the house. He wanted to do this because he was afraid that the doctors might dug up her body for scientific examination. The narrator helped Roderick to do this horrible work.
The next few days, Roderick became even more uncontrollable.
One night, the narrator decided to read him the "Mad Trist" of Sir Launcelot Canning. As he read, he heard noises that corresponded to the descriptions in the book.
He also noticed that Roderick was becoming more and more crazy and he went over to him and listened what he was saying. Roderick said that he and the narrator buried his sister alive in the tombs! His sister stood in white robes bloodied and immediately Roderick died of fear.
The narrator flees from the house and everything behind him collapsed.

THE CASK OF AMONTILLADO

Setting of the story: The story is setting in Italy during the carnival season. The principal facts are developed in the narrator’s vaults (his family’s catacombs). The year isn’t specified.

Description of the main characters:
• Montressor is the protagonist of the story, we haven’t others information of him; in fact, the narrator speaks in first person.
• Fortunato was a man to be respected and he was a connoisseur of wine.

Plot: During the carnival season, the protagonist, Montressor, decided to avenge his honor after receiving insult from Fortunato.
He invited his friend to his home to sample a glass of Amontillado, an exquisite and rare sherry. Fortunato, the connoisseur, accepted Montressor's offer. The narrator gave instructions to his servants to not leave their duties for the duration of his long absence.
Montressor led the inebriated Fortunato into the bowels of the family crypts and after reaching the termination of the vaults, he invited his friend to precede him into the tiny niche wherein lies the phantom cask of Amontillado.
Fortunato was very drunk. Immediately, Montressor began to wall up the alcove, allowing the poor man to slowly gain his senses and realize the stupidity of his actions.
Fortunato began to shriek uncontrollably but Montressor placed and it departed leaving his “dear” friend in the hands of the death.

THE BLACK CAT

Setting of the story: The year and the place are not mentioned. We can realize from the text that the actions are taken place for months.

Description of the main characters:
• The narrator is the protagonist of this story. He loved all animals but he was always drunk so he abused his poor and defenseless animal.
• The black cat is another important character that will put his master in troubles.

Plot: A lover of domestic animals, the narrator, for the negative effects of alcohol, began to despise the pets. He even gouged out an eye and hung his favorite pet named Pluto, a large black.
The same night, his house burned down and left a perfect bas relief of a cat with a noose around its neck in one of the walls in the house.
Soon the author searched another cat and found one identical to Pluto, save for a large white patch of hair on its chest. The white patch immediately transformed from a nondescript patch to a gallows!
One day the cat led the narrator in the cellar; here he took an axe to kill the cat. His wife blocked him and, in a rage, the narrator planted the axe in her skull. He walled up his wife in the cellar. Police came to investigate but they found nothing. They came back four days after the murder and the narrator took them to the exact place where he killed his wife. While he is bragging to the police about the solidity of the walls in which his wife is entombed, a loud shriek alerts the police to something behind the wall. The narrator walled up his cat along with his dead wife!

Message of the book: The message of the book is very brief and simple: the fear and the hate can bring to dangerous consequences.

Personal opinion: This book is a harvest of short and famous stories and I like it.
The narration is very interesting and it is written with an easy and comprehensible language.
In the text there are lot elements that make it charming and the plots are fascinating.
I really like mysterious stories and this book is the type of book that I prefer!

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