In need of a Halloween treat? Please enjoy a FREE Kindle Download of Popular Poe Stories in Plain English from 10/29-10/31.
I am the academic nerd confident enough to have rewritten five of Edgar Allan Poe’s most popular stories in user-friendly English. Today, I’ve posted the introduction to my eBook. On Wednesday I will offer a glimpse at how and why I tackled such an arduous task.
Rewriting the Master
Edgar Allan Poe is undoubtedly a master storyteller who has inspired countless writers and horrified even more readers. Yet his language can be baffling to even the best readers and downright indecipherable to others. As an English teacher, I’ve tried countless ways to engage students in Poe’s stories. Still the tendency remains to gloss over Poe’s old-fashioned use of language simply because his style goes against a reader’s modern sensibilities. One classroom activity that encourages students to connect with Poe is to have them paraphrase (not summarize) sections of his stories into plain English. Readers of all levels greatly benefit from such an exercise and countless ways exist to share the end results.
It is that classroom paraphrasing activity that has inspired this collection. Five of Poe’s most popular short stories are rewritten here in a plain English version that is more accessible to today’s readers. The content has not been shortened or simplified as some versions for English language learners or children’s versions would do. Rather, this eBook offers a modernized paraphrase of Poe’s complex and long-winded writing style.
The difference to the language of the original story is often quite marked, other times the difference is only slight. Longer paragraphs have been broken into shorter ones. The syntax (sentence structure) has been simplified and repetition toned down. Diction (word choice) favors vocabulary that is more on par with the average reader. Also, pronouns and speech tags have been changed in dialogue passages when needed to aid in ease of following the conversation. When appropriate to better understanding the story, references that allude to people and places beyond the text have been explained in context.
Public Domain Image via Wikimedia Commons
My background in education means I fully support reading to appreciate an author’s use of literary devices and elements of style. That type of nitty-gritty analysis is the true art of reading. Yet, I readily admit there are times that readers just want to get to the good stuff without having to re-read a passage five times to understand it. At times it took me hours to get one paragraph just right. It is that type of reading that students need to learn how to do, so who better than the teacher to practice what they preach?
I hope these rewritten stories can bring a sense of Poe’s expert storytelling to those who might be otherwise put-off by his difficult writing style. He led a tortured existence, and I would encourage anyone to read biographical information on him. However, an author’s ideas come from all sorts of places and fact and fiction mingle to become a work of art processed through the lens of the writer’s mind. Poe’s original work can be found in multiple places online and I would encourage anyone to reward themselves with reading his works slowly and deliberately. You will learn a lot. I know I did. Or if you just want to get to the good stuff, I am glad to have helped you read Poe.
Thanks for visiting. Share the blog love and leave a comment below or post this entry on your favorite social media website!
Sign-up via the email or RSS option in the sidebar to receive JeriWB’s latest posts. You can also follow JeriWB via the various social media platforms listed on this website. Let’s learn together!