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.
About Edgar Allan Poe
Edgar Allan Poe was born in 1809 in Boston, the son of traveling actors. He published his first book of poems Tamerlane and Other Poems in 1827, followed by Tales of the Grotesque and Arabesque (which included "The Fall of the House of Usher") in 1839, but he did not achieve appreciable recognition until the publication of "The Raven" in 1845. He died in 1849.
About Edith Wharton
The upper stratum of New York society into which Edith Wharton was born in 1862 provided her with an abundance of material as a novelist but did not encourage her growth as an artist. Educated by tutors and governesses, she was raised for only one career: marriage. But her marriage, in 1885, to Edward Wharton was an emotional disappointment, if not a disaster. She suffered the first of a series of nervous breakdowns in 1894. In spite of the strain of her marriage, or perhaps because of it, she began to write fiction and published her first story in 1889.
Her first published book was a guide to interior decorating, but this was followed by several novels and story collections. They were written while the Whartons lived in Newport and New York, traveled in Europe, and built their grand home, The Mount, in Lenox, Massachusetts. In Europe, she met Henry James, who became her good friend, traveling companion, and the sternest but most careful critic of her fiction. The House of Mirth (1905) was both a resounding critical success and a bestseller, as was Ethan Frome (1911). In 1913 the Whartons were divorced, and Edith took up permanent residence in France. Her subject, however, remained America, especially the moneyed New York of her youth. Her great satiric novel, The Custom of the Country was published in 1913 and The Age of Innocence won her the Pulitzer Prize in 1921.
In her later years, she enjoyed the admiration of a new generation of writers, including Sinclair Lewis and F. Scott Fitzgerald. In all, she wrote some thirty books, including an autobiography. A Backwards Glance (1934). She died at her villa near Paris in 1937.
About Charles Dickens
Charles Dickens was born in a little house in Landport, Portsea, England, on February 7, 1812. The second of eight children, he grew up in a family frequently beset by financial insecurity. At age eleven, Dickens was taken out of school and sent to work in London backing warehouse, where his job was to paste labels on bottles for six shillings a week. His father John Dickens, was a warmhearted but improvident man. When he was condemned the Marshela Prison for unpaid debts, he unwisely agreed that Charles should stay in lodgings and continue working while the rest of the family joined him in jail. This three-month separation caused Charles much pain; his experiences as a child alone in a huge city–cold, isolated with barely enough to eat–haunted him for the rest of his life.
When the family fortunes improved, Charles went back to school, after which he became an office boy, a freelance reporter and finally an author. With Pickwick Papers (1836-7) he achieved immediate fame; in a few years he was easily the post popular and respected writer of his time. It has been estimated that one out of every ten persons in Victorian England was a Dickens reader. Oliver Twist (1837), Nicholas Nickleby (1838-9) and The Old Curiosity Shop (1840-41) were huge successes. Martin Chuzzlewit (1843-4) was less so, but Dickens followed it with his unforgettable, A Christmas Carol (1843), Bleak House (1852-3), Hard Times (1854) and Little Dorrit (1855-7) reveal his deepening concern for the injustices of British Society. A Tale of Two Cities (1859), Great Expectations (1860-1) and Our Mutual Friend (1864-5) complete his major works.
Dickens's marriage to Catherine Hoggarth produced ten children but ended in separation in 1858. In that year he began a series of exhausting public readings; his health gradually declined. After putting in a full day's work at his home at Gads Hill, Kent on June 8, 1870, Dickens suffered a stroke, and he died the following day.
About O. Henry
William Sydney Porter (1862-1910) published all of his worka novel and some 300 short storiesunder the pseudonym 0. Henry. His talent for vivid caricature, local tone, narrative agility, and compassion tempered by irony made him a vastly popular writer in the last decade of his life. He was born in Greensboro, North Carolina, to ordinary middle-class parents and worked in an uncle’s drugstore as a youth, becoming a certified pharmacist. Like many Southerners after the Civil War, he sought his fortune in the West, holding various jobs (newspaper work, clerking in a land office, a teller at an Austin bank). Charged with embezzlement in 1894, he fled to Honduras, returning in 1897 to be with his ill and dying wife. His conviction was caused more by his eluding trial than by the conflicting evidence of theft. In the Ohio State Penitentiary (1898-1901), he began to write the stories that made him famous. He moved to New York, remarried, and kept his identity a secret from all but a few friends. He is buried in Asheville, North Carolina. He is universally honored for his mastery of the short story and for his humane spirit.