The third in the Modern Library's series of original compilations, The Raven and the Monkey's Paw is a collection of classic tales and poems to engage our fear-seeking senses. The beauty of these stories and poems lies in their readability: ideal for sharing aloud around the campfire or for a quick, thrilling dip . . . under
the covers with a flashlight. The writing itself sends as many awe-inspired shivers down the spine as do the ghosts and goblins on these pages.
Edgar Allan Poe, the master of the horror story and the chiming lyric poem, opens the volume with his best-loved stories: "The Murders in the Rue Morgue," "The Black Cat," "The Fall of the House of Usher," "The Pit and the Pendulum," "The Premature Burial," "The Tell-Tale Heart," "Berenice," and "Ligeia." Every bit as chilling now as on the day they were written, these tales retain their power to stir the reader again and again. Poe, who was as well known for his poems as for his stories, is also represented by such verse standards as "The Raven," "Lenore," "To Helen," "Ulalume," and "Annabel Lee," among others.
Numerous other practitioners of the supernatural story are included: Edith Wharton, with her gripping "Afterward"; Charles Dickens and his famed ghost story "The Signalman"; W. W. Jacobs, with this com-
pilation's inspiration, "The Monkey's Paw." Also here are Saki's engrossing "Sredni Vashtar"; O. Henry's story of love lost and hopes dashed, "The Furnished Room"; Wilkie Collins's lively "A Terribly Strange Bed"; and "The Boarded Window," Ambrose Bierce's tale of the bizarre.
A year-round collection for reading aloud--and frightening your friends--The Raven and the Monkey's Paw will gratify all manner of thrill-seekers.
The Modern Library has played a significant role in American cultural life for the better part of a century. The series was founded in 1917 by the publishers Boni and Liveright and eight years later acquired by Bennett Cerf and Donald Klopfer. It provided the foundation for their next publishing venture, Random House. The Modern Library has been a staple of the American book trade, providing readers with affordable hardbound editions of important works of literature and thought. For the Modern Library's seventy-fifth anniversary, Random House redesigned the series, restoring as its emblem the running torchbearer created by Lucian Bernhard in 1925 and refurbishing jackets, bindings, and type, as well as inaugurating a new program of selecting titles. The Modern Library continues to provide the world's best books, at the best prices.
"Once upon a midnight dreary" is perhaps the best time to peruse the tales of horror and suspense in The Raven and the Monkey's Paw
. For a generation raised on the quick-and-gory thrills of Stephen King or Anne Rice, the literary terrors of a previous age such as Edgar Allan Poe's The Black Cat
or Edith Wharton's Afterwards
are of a subtler nature. Rest assured, however. Any one of these stories or poems will elevate the hair on the back of your neck. The Victorians, after all, invented
the horror genre, and it's no accident that many of their creations, from Bram Stoker's Dracula
to Oscar Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Grey
, have provided the inspiration for successive generations of authors as well as numerous filmmakers.
The stories and poems in this collection are at the top of their class. Take for instance Ambrose Bierce's "The Boarded Window." Though the story is brief--just a few pages long--when the secret of that window is finally revealed, it's macabre enough to stick in your mind for years, and only gets scarier over time. W.W. Jacobs works similar black magic in "The Monkey's Paw," a cautionary tale about being careful what you wish for. And Charles Dickens himself gets into the act with a ghost story, "The Signalman." Even readers who generally eschew horror will find these elegant tales from the dark side strangely compelling. So latch the windows, ignore the "tapping at your chamber door," and let your blood be curdled by the masters. --Alix Wilber