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Edgar Allan Poe


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Novelist and essayist Diane Johnson is best known for her satirical novels L'Affaire and Le Divorce, which was a National Book Award finalist. She is a frequent contributor to The New York Review of Books.


Following its treatment of Robert Frost and Emily Dickinson, Sterling adds two more titles on American masters to the Poetry for Young People series: Carl Sandburg, edited by Frances Schoonmaker Bolin, illustrated by Steven Arcella, and Edgar Allan Poe, edited by Brod Bagert, illustrated by Carolynn Cobleigh. Each poem is accompanied by definitions of difficult words ($14.95 each, 48p, ages 7-up ISBN 0-8069-0818-1; -0820-3 May).

Gr 5 Up‘While both volumes offer a spacious format; a wide variety of poems; and colorful, interpretive illustrations, Sandburg is by far the stronger of the two. Poe suffers from the editor's explanations of what each poem means and from the inclusion of 8 prose passages placed in verse form, along with the 13 legitimate poems. Bagert's commentaries dampen rather than spark the imagination, and the doctored prose creates confusion between Poe's poems and tales. The realistic paintings are of uneven quality; the small vignettes are more effective than the full-page renderings. The 33 poems in Sandburg vary in length and theme, but most are the staples of anthologies, e.g., ``Fog,'' ``Arithmetic,'' and ``We Must Be Polite.'' The surrealistic illustrations, which appear to be rendered in pastels, are appealing; the soft edges and warm tones work well with Sandburg's imagery. Both books include a biographical sketch of the poet, footnotes providing definitions of difficult words, and a title index.‘Pat Katka, San Diego Public Library

Poe, said to be the creator of the American Gothic tale and detective fiction, is well represented in this collection of 20 poems and short stories that was originally produced in 1954. The pieces illustrate several themes for which Poe was well known. For example, he felt that the death of a beautiful woman was the most poetical topic in the world. "The Raven," which made him famous, shows the incantatory or hypnotic quality of his rhythm, especially with Basil Rathbone's reading. Other horror tales included are "The Pit and the Pendulum," "The Black Cat," and "The Fall of the House of Usher." The people in his novels often die and then mysteriously return to life, usually after they have been entombed. In "The Imp of the Perverse," Poe expounds on his theory of humanity that we often do something simply because we should not. The literary world is grateful for his unique vision. Vincent Price and Rathbone, well-known actors, both perform excellently. Any serious collection of horror or detective fiction would not be complete without Poe's works. Highly recommended. Marjorie Lemon, SRCF-Mercer, PA Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.

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