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Jan 21, 2014

Cultural allusions in The Fall of the House of Usher

Poe's "The Fall of the House of Usher" is peppered with allusions to cultural artefacts: music, art, and books that contribute to the setting of the story. Here's a quick list of those references.

Last Waltz of Von Weber, composed by Karl Gottlieb Reissiger (1798-1859)

Henry Fuseli (1742-1825). Swiss-born Romantic period artist,  known for his nightmarish paintings. The narrator contrasts Roderick Usher's paintings to Fuseli's work.

"The Haunted Palace" is a poem by Poe, originally published in 1839. Poe quotes it in the story, now represented as one of Usher's "wild fantasias".

The books in Usher's library:

Ververt et Chartreuse by Jean-Baptiste-Louis Gresset
The Belphegor by Machiavelli (Belfagor arcidiavolo)
The Heaven and Hell by Swedenborg
The Subterranean Voyage of Nicholas Klimm by Holberg
The Chiromancy of Robert Flud by Jean D'Indagie
The Journey into the Blue Distance of Tieck by De La Chambre
City of the Sun by Campanella
The Directorium Inquisitoram by the Dominican Eymeric de Gironne
Passages in Pomponius Mela about African Satyre and AEgipans
The Vigiliae Mortuorum secundum Chorum Ecclesiae Maguntinae (Usher's "chief delight")

Later in the story, the narrator picks up a copy of "Mad Trist" of Sir Launcelot Canning (this book, unlike the ones above, is a fabrication by Poe).