I well remember the first time I read "The Cask of Amontillado," maybe fifteen years ago. It was my lunchbreak, and I'd staggered out of my office, desperate for mental sustenance. I wandered into a bookstore, and opened Poe's collected works... Reading this story, like reading any great story, was a life-transforming experience. What does it do for you?
Apparently the story was first published in Godey's Lady's Book (Vol. XXIII, no. 5), November 1846, 33: 216-218. Other excerpts from Godey's Lady's Book here -- most of the stories they published seem to have contained practical moral instruction, which was not Poe's forte. According to Wikipedia, their main editor was Sara Josepha Hale, author of "Mary had a Little Lamb," and their issues contained sewing patterns. Incongrously, they also published quite a lot of Poe.
The 1840s were interesting times politically, desperate ones economically. Poe died three years after this story was published. Some decades later, he was discovered by the French. More comments later.