What is the weakest mental illness

E. A. Poe - Playing with the primal fears of humans

I first came into contact with the American writer Edgar Allan Poe when I was at school. At the age of 14, our committed German professor, who had a clear affinity for the creepy genre, presented us with the short story The murders on Rue Morgue. It was then that I discovered my penchant for horror and from then on read almost all of his stories with devotion.

Edgar Allan Poe, born in Boston in 1908, shaped the genres of crime and horror literature like no other. With the figure of Auguste Dupin, he not only invented the first detective in literary history, he always allowed the cool logic and deduction skills of his hero to meet the uncanny lurking subliminally and thus sent shivers down the spine of his readers. Poe jumps at the reader and catapults him into those zones of consciousness where his heroes watch with incorruptible accuracy as they awaken to hysterical clairvoyance or dive into the shattered soul. The resilient struggle not to lose their minds, and the attacked struggle to penetrate the new order of their out of joint world. Ultimately, however, they all make their way through the same psychopathological undergrowth.

Irrevocable doom

This is also the case with the figures in The fall of the House of Usher. A young man talks about his visit to an old friend, the painter Roderick Usher. Usher, a gloomy figure and the last offspring of a degenerate aristocratic family, does not feel well, he suffers from anxiety attacks, his senses, especially his hearing, are oversensitive and extremely sharpened. He also appears to be suffering from a mental illness. His beloved sister has just died and Usher asks his friend to help him with her burial ...

He suffered a lot from a morbid aggravation of the senses; only the most tasteless food was tolerable for him, as clothing he could only wear very specific fabrics; every odor of flowers was repugnant to him; even the faintest light tormented his eyes, and there were only a few particular tones - and these only from stringed instruments - that did not fill him with horror.

Poe brings some of his favorite motifs to the story: insanity, an opium rush, love among close relatives, being buried alive, the resurrection of those believed dead, or the death of a beautiful young woman. The fact that he not only arranges these motifs for the purpose of increasing the effect, but also works them off in part from his own life story, makes a story like that of Fall of the House of Usher also interesting biographically.

Edgar Allan Poe, the unhappy romantic

Poe had spent several years in his youth in Scotland and England and went to school there. The world of the nobility that still exists here, with its long history, made a deep impression on the young American writer and poet, who in comparison felt almost devoid of history.

Later, when he returned home, he began to drink and play at the university, ran into large debts and therefore probably lived under several pseudonyms. He went to the military and published his first volumes of poetry. When his beloved wife Virginia died of tuberculosis at an early age, he began to process her death in numerous works. His alcohol addiction was supplemented by the consumption of opium, the circumstances of his death have remained in the dark to this day. He died in Baltimore at the age of only 40.

Charles Baudelaire wrote of Poe: “All the documents I have read have strengthened my conviction that the United States was nothing but a great prison for Poe, which he roamed with the feverish excitement of a man for a more beautiful one World is made and that the spiritual life of the poet and even the drunkard was a single uninterrupted effort to escape the influence of this disgusting atmosphere. "

To this day, Edgar Allan Poe, the forefather of crime and fantastic literature, captivates people of all ages with his horror stories and I personally am very happy that they are still firmly anchored in the school curriculum. So I don't just recommend the history of the Downfall of the House of Usherthat i used for Heard, read mostly because of the extraordinary sensations of Roderick Usher, but also all the other macabre and eerie tales, like Buried alive, The mask of the red deathPit and pendulum, The treacherous heart, The black cat and many more.


In my opinion, the unabridged audio book by Argon Verlag is particularly recommended due to the excellent voice of Thomas Vogt. The well-known voice actor is extremely easy to understand and can build up the rising tension of this story well. For reading along as part of the listening training, I can either recommend the good old Reclam text. If you are interested in further works, I recommend the inexpensive paperback version from Anaconda-Verlag.

Books: Collected Works, Edgar Allan Poe, Anaconda Verlag, ISBN 978-3-86647-756-8

Stories, Reclam Verlag, ISBN 978-3-15-008619-3

Audio book: The Downfall of the House of Usher, Edgar Allan Poe, Argon Hörbuchverlag, speaker Thomas Vogt, playing time 54 minutes