Edgar Allan Poe: anyone with an interest in scary stories—and not just scary, but deeply, whole-other-level scary stories—quickly learns the name. Presumably they also learn the proper spelling of the name: “Allan” with two As, not “Allen” with an E. But despite using the incorrect latter, the good people at Spotify have still managed to craft the most expansive Poeian playlist currently available on the internet, whose fourteen hours constitute “the essential Poe listening experience, from vintage radio versions to contemporary readings.” (If you don’t have Spotify’s free software, download it here.)
Though he composed his entire body of work in the first half of the nineteenth century, Poe lives on, for those who like their cocktails of mystery and the macabre with a long-lasting (and long-troubling) psychological aftertaste, as the storyteller to beat. As impressive a number of his writings—“The Tell-Tale Heart,” “The Fall of the House of Usher,” “The Cask of Amontillado,” and “The Pit and the Pendulum”—have taken a permanent place in not just the American but human consciousness, none have attained as much universality as “The Raven,” the poem of loneliness and the supernatural which justifiably begins the playlist.
Given its sheer length, Spotify’s Essential Edgar
Allen Allan Poe doesn’t just play the hits: even avowed Poe appreciators will likely hear a few intriguing literary B-sides they never have before. They’ll certainly hear more than a few productions and interpretations of their favorite pieces from the Poe canon. The playlist would also make a fine, if intense, introduction for those who have yet settled in with the work of the man who defined modern psychological horror. If you crave more afterward—and getting his readership hooked ranked not least among Poe’s concerns—do delve into the copious amount of Poe material we’ve previously featured here on Open Culture, a few selections from which appear below. You’ll find it all enduringly and dreadfully compelling, no matter how you spell its author’s name.
The “Essential Edgar Allan Poe” Playlist will be added to our collection, 900 Free Audio Books: Download Great Books for Free.
Based in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities and culture. He’s at work on a book about Los Angeles, A Los Angeles Primer, the video series The City in Cinema, the crowdfunded journalism project Where Is the City of the Future?, and the Los Angeles Review of Books’ Korea Blog. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall or on Facebook.