Edgar Allan Poe

The Tell-Tale Heart , C. Auguste Dupin , Detective fiction

Everybody loves a good horror story. Millions of dollars are earned each year by books and films sold in this genre. Horror movies are always available in the movie theaters, and usually more than one is playing at a time. Many sleepovers and camping trips are not considered complete until a scary story is told at night. People love the fear, alarm, and unease they feel while experiencing a horror story. Scary stories have been an important part of entertainment in America for a long time, but where did the horror story in American literature originate? The man who can be credited with bringing horror stories to American fiction is Edgar Allan Poe. Poe also created the detective story and gave American literature some of its most popular and enduring works. Poe is definitely one of America’s greatest authors.

First of all, Poe made horror fiction a part of American literature. Even in his lifetime, Poe was recognized for his skill in crafting horror tales. James Russell Lowell wrote a positive review of Poe and his works for Graham’s Magazine in 1845. In the article, Lowell notes that “Mr. Poe has chosen to exhibit his power chiefly in that dim region which stretches from the very utmost limits of the probable into the weird confines of superstition and unreality.” He goes on to write about Poe’s success in “raising images of horror.” It is true that the people of Poe’s day were fascinated by his tales, which were published magazines and later collected into Tales of the Grotesque and Arabesque, a very appropriate name.

Poe’s horror stories have continued to be popular. Diane Cole says, “His work haunts us forevermore.” His stories are widely read, and many have been made into horror films. Cole explains the “hold on the imagination” that Poe’s stories have:

One way that to measure the claustrophobic spell they still hold on the imagination is the response that bestselling crime novelist Michael Connelly received when he invited fellow writers...
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