Edgar Allan Poe

On this segment of HarperAudio!, British actor Basil Rathbone offers an intense reading of American writer Edgar Allan Poe's "The Raven." In this recording, Rathbone renders Poe's anguished, darkly romantic classic using the full range of his dramatic talent.

The Raven

[audio] .au format (4.6 Mb), .gsm format (0.8 Mb), .ra format (0.5 Mb).

The Purloined Letter

Actor Anthony Quayle reads Edgar Allan Poe's "The Purloined Letter." This short story, written in 1845, features the brainy amateur detective C. Auguste Dupin. Dupin is called in by G., a prefect of police, to help locate a letter that has been stolen from a lady of the court by a D., an unscrupulous cabinet minister. Dupin uses his intellect to retrieve the letter, and while explaining his reasoning also expounds on his theories of intelligence, physiognomy, and mathematics. While the story's central idea of a compromising letter seems quaint these days, Poe loses most modern readers entirely with his final line -- a classical allusion, in French no less. It translates as "If such a sinister design isn't worthy of Atreus, it is worthy of Thyestes," two brothers of Greek tragedy.

Edgar Allan Poe was born in 1809 and died in 1849 of disease related to alcoholism. In 1836 he married his 13- year-old cousin, Virginia Clemm, whose death 11 years later inspired the poem Annabel Lee. Poe's career ranged from Richmond, Virginia, where he edited the Southern Literary Messenger, to New York, where he ran The Broadway Journal. He is buried in Baltimore, Maryland.

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