The Fall of the House of Usher Historical Context

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"The Fall of the House of Usher" was first published in 1839 in Burton's Gentleman's Magazine. At a time when most popular literature was highly moralistic, Poe's stories were concerned only with creating emotional effects. Poe charged that most of his contemporaries were "didactic," that is, they were preoccupied with making religious or political statements in their writings to the detriment of the fiction itself. His own tales of terror, in which he often depicted the psychological disintegration of unstable or emotionally overwrought characters, were in sharp contrast to the works of more highly praised writers of the time. Because of Poe's disdain for didactic writing, he was little regarded by the literary establishment in his day.

But despite being dismissed by literary critics, Poe's tales were instrumental in establishing the short story as a viable literary form. Before his time, such short works were not regarded as serious...

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This section contains 335 words
(approx. 1 page at 400 words per page)
Buy The Fall of the House of Usher Study Guide
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Short Stories for Students
The Fall of the House of Usher from Short Stories for Students. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.