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Macabre Tales:   Edgar Allan Poe

272 pages 15 illustrations                     ISBN 9781907091155
paperback demy                                                         15.
00

This American writer and poet was born in 1809, and his short, tragic and somewhat dissolute life ended in 1849. He is best remembered for his weird gothic-style short stories, most bordering upon descent into psychological disturbance or madness, often seemingly obsessed with death and the ghastly prospect of being buried alive. He could also be said to have laid the foundations of the detective story, unravelling crimes and mysteries with a type of lateral thinking new to his time. Some of the best of these are included here.

Macabre Tales

Some of the best-known of Poe's short works are included in this edition.

These include The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar, the story of a mesmerist who, as an  experiment, puts a dying man under hypnosis, keeping him in a state of suspended animation, until finally his body collapses into decomposition. The Fall of the House of Usher, where the writer visits the ancestral home of an old friend. This man's sister ostensibly dies and is entombed, only to re-emerge, followed by the death of both herself and her brother, and the collapse of the old house. The Masque of the Red Death, concerning an eccentric duke and his followers who isolate themselves in the luxury of his castle to escape the ravages of a plague But this so-called red death gains entrance in the form of a mysterious masked reveller, bringing about their demise. The Black Cat, the tale of a cruel wife murderer who is finally brought to justice by his hated cat. The Pit and the Pendulum, concerning a man undergoing torture during the Inquisition, finally rescued at the last moment. The Murders in the Rue Morgue is an early detective story in which a young man solves the mystery of two brutal murders and uncovers the somewhat unlikely perpetrator. The Purloined Letter, another mystery solved by the same young intellectual, this time involving scandal in high places. Ligeia, a weird story in which the writer's much loved wife dies. He marries again, but does not greatly care for this second spouse. She also ostensibly dies, but rises from her death bed and appears to take on the identity of his first love. A Descent into the Maelstrm, The story of a fisherman trapped by a horrendous whirlpool off the Scandinavian coast. Finally, Morella, the brief tale of a spouse for whom the writer has respect but no love. In the throes of death she gives birth to a baby daughter, on whom he lavishes the love he should rightly have shown to the mother. As an extra, the book includes the weird poem The Raven, often quoted as 'pure Poe': "Quoth the raven, 'Never more'."

Contents

The Facts in the Case of M.Valdemar ...................  6

The Fall of the House of Usher ............................  23

The Masque of the Red Death .............................  56

The Black Cat ...................................................... 67

The Pit and the Pendulum ...................................   85

The Murders in the Rue Morgue .......................  110

The Purloined Letter .......................................... 170

Ligeia ................................................................. 205

A Descent into the Maelstrӧm ...........................  231

Morella .............................................................  260

The Raven (a poem) ........................................    267

 

The Facts in the Case of

M.Valdemar

OF COURSE I shall not pretend to consider it any matter
for wonder, that the extraordinary case of M. Valdemar has
excited discussion. It would have been a miracle had it not
especially under the circumstances. Through the desire of
all parties concerned, to keep the affair from the public, at
least for the present, or until we had further opportunities
for investigation through our endeavours to effect this a
garbled or exaggerated account made its way into society,
and became the source of many unpleasant misrepresentations,
and, very naturally, of a great deal of disbelief.
It is now rendered necessary that I give the facts
as far as
I comprehend them myself. They are, succinctly, these: My
attention, for the last three years, had been repeatedly
drawn to the subject of mesmerism; and, about nine months
ago it occurred to me, quite suddenly, that in the series of
experiments made hitherto, there had been a very
remarkable and most unaccountable omission no person
had as yet been mesmerised in articulo mortis
. It remained
to be seen, first, whether, in such condition, there existed in
the patient any susceptibility to the magnetic influence;
secondly, whether, if any existed, it was impaired or
increased by the condition; thirdly, to what extent, or for


The Pit and the Pendulum

I WAS SICK sick unto death with that long agony; and
when they at length unbound me, and I was permitted to
sit, I felt that my senses were leaving me. The sentence
the dread sentence of death was the last of distinct
accentuation which reached my ears. After that, the sound
of the inquisitorial voices seemed merged in one dreamy
indeterminate hum. It conveyed to my soul the idea of
revolution perhaps from its association in fancy with the
burr of a mill-wheel. This only for a brief period; for
presently I heard no more. Yet, for a while, I saw; but with
how terrible an exaggeration! I saw the lips of the blackrobed
judges. They appeared to me white whiter than the
sheet upon which I trace these words and thin even to
grotesqueness; thin with the intensity of their expression of
firmness of immovable resolution of stern contempt of
human torture. I saw that the decrees of what to me was
Fate, were still issuing from those lips. I saw them writhe
with a deadly locution. I saw them fashion the syllables of
my name; and I shuddered because no sound succeeded. I
saw, too, for a few moments of delirious horror, the soft
and nearly imperceptible waving of the sable draperies
which enwrapped the walls of the apartment. And then my
vision fell upon the seven tall candles upon the table. At
first they wore the aspect of charity, and seemed white and
slender angels who would save me; but then, all at once,

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