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House of Usher$
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Evert van Leeuwen

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9781911325604

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: February 2021

DOI: 10.3828/liverpool/9781911325604.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM LIVERPOOL SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.liverpool.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Liverpool University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in LSO for personal use.date: 18 September 2021

The Plot of Usher: Rebuilding the House of Poe

The Plot of Usher: Rebuilding the House of Poe

(p.23) Chapter 2: The Plot of Usher: Rebuilding the House of Poe
House of Usher

Evert Jan van Leeuwen

Liverpool University Press

This chapter presents a structural analysis of Edgar Allan Poe's story and Richard Matheson's script to highlight House of Usher's (1960) fidelity to Poe's original. ‘The Fall of the House of Usher’ (1839) is often classified as the story that epitomises Poe's philosophy of composition. From the outset, it hurtles towards a dreadful and inescapable catastrophe from which only the narrator escapes to tell the tale. Adapting Poe properly for the screen means following Poe's method of plotting for unity of effect as well as translating the story's atmosphere of doom, hysterical characterisation, and macabre themes of death and decay into a language understandable to actors, cinematographers, and all the various artists involved in the production design. The chapter's analysis shows that Matheson indeed followed Poe's philosophy of composition carefully, adapting the nineteenth-century writer's literary conventions to create a cinematic narrative of high fidelity to its literary source that was also very filmable and appealing to the audience of the day.

Keywords:   Edgar Allan Poe, Richard Matheson, House of Usher, composition, plotting, characterisation, macabre themes, literary source, literary conventions, cinematic narrative

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