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Ebook The Oval Portrait by Edgar Allan Poe read! Book Title: The Oval Portrait
The author of the book: Edgar Allan Poe
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Language: English
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 13.96 MB
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Reader ratings: 5.8
Edition: Edgar Allan Poe
Date of issue: March 30th 2016

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Since there are dozens of reviews already posted here, in the spirit of freshness I will focus on how Edgar Allan Poe uses this tale to convey the power of art and aesthetic experience for both artist and viewer. Below are my observations along with several of the author’s quotes.

The narrator enters a room situated in a remote turret of a Italian mountain chateau, a room filled with tapestry and trophies “together with an unusually great number of very spirited modern paintings, in frames of rich golden arabesque.” This framing of works of art is no accident – by its very nature, art is a world apart; no matter how realistic, what is contained within the frame requires a viewer’s attention and imagination to be seen properly.

“Long – long I read – and devoutly, devoutly I gazed.” The act of devotion traditionally appertains to religion, but, for such art aficionados of the nineteenth century as the narrator, in a very real sense, art took the place of religion. And, similar to religious and mystical experience, his art gazing evaporates the everyday experience of time. He tells us, “Rapidly and gloriously the hours flew by and the deep midnight came.”

The narrator’s experience reflects what many eighteenth and nineteenth century philosophers such as Immanuel Kant, Frederick Schiller and Arthur Schopenhauer refer to as "the disinterested state," a mind-set whereby we transcend the muck and grime of our petty, self-preoccupied day-to-day concerns and soar to the crystal clear psychic sky of universal beauty.

Then the narrator’s attention turns more directly to the oval portrait and he spends an hour riveted on what he sees, such riveted attention moving him to intense emotional and psychological depths. We read, “I had found the spell of the picture in an absolute life-likeliness of expression, which, at first startling, finally confounded, subdued, and appalled me.”

This is the potency one encounters when totally committing to the art object; in his case being, in turn, startled, confounded, subdued and appalled, states made all the more vivid by the rarefied, ethereal air of aesthetic experience; indeed, his senses and neurological pathways are washed clean and opened like floodgates for the expressive force of the lifelike portrait of the artist’s young, beautiful wife. Additionally, the mood set by the candles of the candelabra and the dark night only adds to the piquancy of his astonishing experience.

When the narrator turns to the page discussing this painting and its history, we read along about a “passionate, wild and moody man" taking glory in his work, an artist who painted day and night over many weeks and who “took a fervid and burning pleasure in his task." However, the artist’s obsession in conferring life to his painting has a price: the more alive and vital his painting, the more life is drained from his tender, young wife, a process the artist, in his obsessive fervor, completely fails to register. This transference of energy crescendos with the final brush stroke - the painting springs fully to life at the exact moment of his young wife’s death.

So, what are we to make of this tale? Is the painter an evil man as some reviewers might suggest? Any reader who has been touched by the muse and participates in the creative life of art, music or literature knows there are sacrifices to be made, usually sacrifices made by the creative artist himself or herself but there are times when others are impacted, either willingly or unwillingly.

Where do we draw the line? We certainly don’t want to live in a flat, vapid, humdrum artless world but should such sacrifices be made as in Poe’s tale? How we answer this question is a telling sign of who we are as individuals and who we are collectively as a society.

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Ebook The Oval Portrait read Online! The name Poe brings to mind images of murderers and madmen, premature burials, and mysterious women who return from the dead. His works have been in print since 1827 and include such literary classics as The Tell-Tale Heart, The Raven, and The Fall of the House of Usher. This versatile writer’s oeuvre includes short stories, poetry, a novel, a textbook, a book of scientific theory, and hundreds of essays and book reviews. He is widely acknowledged as the inventor of the modern detective story and an innovator in the science fiction genre, but he made his living as America’s first great literary critic and theoretician. Poe’s reputation today rests primarily on his tales of terror as well as on his haunting lyric poetry.

Just as the bizarre characters in Poe’s stories have captured the public imagination so too has Poe himself. He is seen as a morbid, mysterious figure lurking in the shadows of moonlit cemeteries or crumbling castles. This is the Poe of legend. But much of what we know about Poe is wrong, the product of a biography written by one of his enemies in an attempt to defame the author’s name.

The real Poe was born to traveling actors in Boston on January 19, 1809. Edgar was the second of three children. His other brother William Henry Leonard Poe would also become a poet before his early death, and Poe’s sister Rosalie Poe would grow up to teach penmanship at a Richmond girls’ school. Within three years of Poe’s birth both of his parents had died, and he was taken in by the wealthy tobacco merchant John Allan and his wife Frances Valentine Allan in Richmond, Virginia while Poe’s siblings went to live with other families. Mr. Allan would rear Poe to be a businessman and a Virginia gentleman, but Poe had dreams of being a writer in emulation of his childhood hero the British poet Lord Byron. Early poetic verses found written in a young Poe’s handwriting on the backs of Allan’s ledger sheets reveal how little interest Poe had in the tobacco business.

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