Friday, October 2, 2009

October Short Stories - The Pit and the Pendulum and A Tale of the Ragged Mountains by Edgar Allan Poe

Words that came to mind while I was reading The Pit and the Pendulum – horror, terror, darkness, despair, nightmarish. What a creepy story. Short, yet so effective. As the narrator’s doom literally sinks towards him, I felt glued to the page. My heart beat faster with each painstakingly described moment.

The man, his all-white judge and jury, his sentence of death and the delirium that follows, all unbearable to witness, but even in this darkness of thought, he perseveres with a little bit of luck by avoiding the death trap in the middle of his prison.

I saw clearly the doom which had been prepared for me, and congratulated myself upon the timely accident by which I had escaped.

His captors are not so easily foiled. A new nightmare awaited, much worse than the first.

Having failed to fall, it was no part of the demon pan to hurl me into the abyss, and thus (there being no alternative) a different and a milder destruction awaited me. Milder! I half smiled in my agony as I though of such application of such a term.

The steel blade of the pendulum perceptibly descended. And still they tempted him with food barely within reach. The rats! His torture was complete, but in the last moment his tormentors were his saviors, and he was free of the bindings that held him in place of certain death.

Or so he thought.

What a story!

In A Tale of the Ragged Mountains, Poe delves into the truly weird and uncanny with a story about a man named Bedloe who gets lost while traveling in mountain passages on a day out from his home. He finds himself in a dream-like state in a completely different land and time period, caught in a battle with a people the likes of which he has never seen in his life.

He believes himself killed in this battle, but then he awakens, and finds his way back to his village, still alive, still breathing much to his amazement.

But why was he thrust back into this particular time and place? Was it time travel or reincarnation, or even just an odd dream? All is explained by the end of the story. I had no idea Poe wrote anything thing the likes of which could be called science fiction.

If you're looking for some great October spookiness, these stories are thoroughly engrossing and not that hard to read. Be sure to put in your order for dark stormy skies before hand though, thus ensuring you'll never go to sleep again! Ha.

Up next: The Murders in the Rue Morgue and The Purloined Letter

Helluva Halloween Challenge and the Classics Reading Challenge


Misty said...

I read a lot of Poe when I was a kid. (It must have been a little weird, and I wonder now, who in the hell bought me Poe?). But I loved the Pit and the Pendulum. I haven't read Tale of the Ragged Mountain; hadn't even heard of it, in fact. Gonna have to look into it. Good stuff, Lula.

My faves as a kid were The Fall of the House of Usher, The Masque of the Red Death, The Cask of Amontillado, and of course, The Tell-Tale Heart.
In 11th grade, we had to rewrite Cask... from a different perspective. Mine was from the perspective of a mouse on the floor getting drunk off of spilled wine. I really need to dig that out, it was good times. :p

Lula O said...

I like The Fall of the House of Usher too, especially the movie with Vincent Price.
I don't think I've read The Cask yet, but how cool you rewrote your own version. I love to look back at stuff I wrote in high school. For me it's usually worth a good laugh!

You read Poe. I wore moon boots. We all have issues.

The Bradfords said...

I just read a blurb in the paper about Poe. This is the 200th year anniversary of his birth and they are having a special celebration/funeral in Baltimore. Less than 10 people attended his real funeral, apparently his cousin didn't even announce his death publicly, so they're giving him a proper funeral today. I found a book of his works at a used book store, and I never realized how poetic he was (beyond The Raven, of course). He had an interesting life and died at age 40. I'll have to re-read some of his stories, just not this week because my husband is out of town and there could be a heart beating under my bed!!!!!!!

Lula O said...

I hope no one comes by and taps on your bedroom window...hee hee. That would be really mean.
I'd never do that.

Laura's Reviews said...

Great review! It reminds me that this month would be a good month to crack open my collected works of Poe. It has been a long time since I've read any of his stories!

Lula O said...

The creepy factor is high with these, that's for sure. Baltimore just did a re-do of his funeral, fake body and everything, as part of a celebration of the 200th aniv of his birth. I guess he never had a proper funeral and his death was never even announced publicly. I'm getting the feeling he was underappreciated while he was alive.
Their loss.