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This selection of Poe's critical writings, short fiction and poetry demonstrates an intense interest in aesthetic issues and the astonishing power and imagination with which he probed the darkest corners of the human mind. "The Fall of the House of Usher" describes the final hours of a family tormented by tragedy and the legacy of the past. In "The Tell Tale Heart", a murderer's insane delusions threaten to betray him, while stories such as "The Pit and the Pendulum" and "The Cask of Amontillado" explore extreme states of decadence, fear and hate.
Although dissipated in his youth and plagued by mental instability towards the end of his life, Boston-born Edgar Allan Poe (1809-49) had a variety of occupations including service in the US army and magazine editor, as well as his remarkable literary output.