|"Tales, " by Edgar Allan Poe, is a collection of 25 stories from the literary father of the mysterious and the macabre. These individual pieces, which include "The Fall of the House of Usher, " and "Silence: A Fable, " together make up the body of both "Tales of the Grotesque and Arabesque" and "Tales of the Folio Club." Taken as a whole, Poe''s writing has cast its dark and exquisite shadow over many genres of literature, from the mysteries of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle to the science fiction of Jules Verne, but in this collection the author''s ability to explore the darker corners of the readers'' psyche comes to the fore. Such is the power of his storytelling that his tales retain their eerie power to delight and terrify in equal measure more than a century and a half after his death.|
Poe's parents were traveling actors who died when he was a small child, leaving three children: one died, one eventually became insane, and the other grew up to be Edgar Allan Poe, one of America's great writers and the father of the modern detective story. He was raised (though never legally adopted) by a merchant named John Allan and spent part of his growing-up years in England. He attended the University of Virginia, but was expelled for not paying his gambling debts, as a result of which Allan disowned him. Poe joined the Army in 1927 and then spent a year at West Point, from which he was dismissed in 1831. He lived for a while with his aunt in Baltimore, during which time he won a $50 short-story prize and began working on the staffs of various literary magazines. He also began writing stories on a regular basis. In 1836, Poe married his 13-year-old cousin, but she became ill six years later and remained an invalid until she died of tuberculosis in 1847. After her death, Poe began to drink and take drugs, and his fiction and poetry became morbid and dark; it also brought him money and fame. Often depressed and on the verge of madness, Poe attempted suicide in 1848. The next year, he went on a three-day binge, and was found delirious in a Baltimore gutter. He died a few days later. His last words were, "Lord, help my poor soul."