Tackling Poe: The Complete Works, Part 6

I’m finally back after a very extended absence from reading this collection. (Shame on me!) I suffered a bit of burn-out halfway through this segment’s offerings, but finally recovered enough to get back to it. I’ve planned out the rest of the blog series now. Tackling Poe: The Complete Works is going to be a whopping 13 parts long. (No, I didn’t do that on purpose.)

In any case, let’s get back to the stories! I’ve finally reached the 50% mark in this collection, according to my Kindle. I’m calling this the “absurd” segment of the collection, because so many of these stories were just…. out there, or full of ridiculous puns. As a side note, it was really hard to find any audio versions of these stories, so if you know of one, please let me know in the comments!

This time, we’ll be reading the following:

However, no Tackling Poe post is complete without a little meme action:

raven-edgar-allan-poe

Lionizing

LionizingfromexaminerAudio Version: Unavailable

Text Version: Virginia University

Word Count: 1,539 words

Summary: A young man is born with a wonderful nose, and takes up the study of Nosology, only to hurt his career and fame by shooting another man’s nose off during a duel.

Review: This story was the first hint I got that Part 6 was going to be a pretty absurd sampling. Lionizing reminds me of Akutagawa Ryunosuke’s second short story “The Nose“, but with a conceited child instead of a monk. It was fun and amusing, and like a lot of Aesop’s tales, requires a snappy, witty moral at the end to make an impact. In this case, I think it worked quite well.

Quote:

The first action of my life was the taking hold of my nose with both hands. My mother saw this and called me a genius:- my father wept for joy and presented me with a treatise on Nosology. This I mastered before I was breeched.

X-ing a Paragraph

20Audio Version: Unavailable

Text Version: Virginia University

Word Count: 2,286 words

Summary: Two newspaper editors brawl it out in their respective newspapers, though one has it in mind to sabotage his competitor by stealing his much-loved letter O’s from the type-setting bench.

Review: So many puns! It was an interesting diddy, but more of a joke than a story, in my opinion. It’s also another “absurd” story, and for that quality, I enjoyed it, at least.

Quote:

As it is well known that the ‘wise men’ came ‘from the East,’ and as Mr. Touch-and-go Bullet-head came from the East, it follows that Mr. Bullet-head was a wise man; and if collateral proof of the matter be needed, here we have it- Mr. B. was an editor.

Metzengerstein

metzengersteinAudio Version: Unavailable

Text Version: Virginia University

Word Count: 3,307 words

Summary: A baron takes possession of a horse after his neighbor’s stable catches fire, and the stable hands assure it does not belong to them. However, the horse’s strange nature soon possesses him, and sends his house to ruin.

Review: This story gets back into that familiar, classical “Poe” voice that he is so well-known for, but is written in 3rd person, a technique I’m finding he uses on his shorter, singular lesson/theme stories. I thought it was interesting, and could have been a really scary story, but it lacked the necessary tension to make me eager to turn the page, like in The Fall of the House of UsherThe Tell-Tale Heart, and The Pit and the Pendulum.

The System of Doctor Tarr & Professor Fether

eichenberg-30525Audio Version: Unavailable

Text Version: Virginia University

Word Count: 6,716 words

Summary: A man visits an asylum with the hope of learning about a “soothing method” used on the patients there. He is greeted by one of the doctors, who invites him to stay for a meal that is soon interrupted when the patients escape their cells.

Review: I enjoyed this one. It was fun because even though it is written in 1st person, the reader is allowed, through clever use of phrase, to recognize the fact that the narrator is quite the naive buffoon. The character descriptions and dialog were also really engaging. The conflict of the story is also really well played out. If you’re looking to read some of Poe’s lesser-known stories, and haven’t read this one before, I recommend it.

Quotes:

Believe nothing you hear, and only one-half that you see.

Never, in all my life, had I witnessed so lavish, so wasteful an expenditure of the good things of life.

How to Write a Blackwood Article

from The New Yorker
from The New Yorker

Audio Version: Unavailable

Text Version: Virginia University

Word Count: 4,079 words

Summary: A companion to the story A Predicament, How to Write a Blackwood Article is exactly what it sounds like. A woman goes to see a man for some advice on writing a thrilling article, and he gives her many suggestions.

Review: This story was largely amusing for how true it still rings for our modern society. The whole time I was reading it, I was thinking about “For the Vine!” and Buzzfeed, Youtube Fail Vlogs, and Facebook viral photos. There was even a section of the story where I was sure Poe was making fun of himself. An entertaining read, though the story that follows it is much better (being an actual story).

A Predicament

Beatrice Manley in "A Predicament" - Baroque Theatre
Beatrice Manley in “A Predicament” – Baroque Theatre

Audio Version: Unavailable

Text Version: Virginia University

Word Count: 3,631 words

Summary: A rich girl gets more than she bargained for when she climbs a clock tower with her servant and her puppy to get a better view of the city.

Review: Another absurd tale, A Predicament is also one of the more macabre stories in this collection, perhaps even one of the oldest bizarro pieces of literature. I laughed, probably at the parts that shouldn’t have been funny. I’m curious to know how it was received the year it was written.

Quotes:

If! Distressing monosyllable! what world of mystery, and meaning, and doubt, and uncertainty is there involved in thy two letters!

I was presently relieved, however, by the dropping out of the other eye. In falling it took the same direction (possibly a concerted plot) as its fellow. Both rolled out of the gutter together, and in truth I was very glad to get rid of them [her eyes].

Mystification

Image Unavailable - Please take this image of Poe dancing instead!
Image Unavailable – Please take this image of Poe dancing instead!

Audio Version: Unavailable

Text Version: Virginia University

Word Count: 3,163 words

Summary: One man insults another, and through a battle of allusions and the politest insults ever imagined, one avoids having to duel another.

Review: This one was…. confusing. On top of all of the allusions, it was sort of all for the punchline at the end, and I’m not a huge fan of that sort of conclusion. It was an odd story; not one I can particularly recommend.

Diddling

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Image Unavailable. More memes!

Audio Version: Unavailable

Text Version: Virginia University

Word Count: 3,972 words

Summary: Poe defines the “diddle”, and what a “diddler” does through some very amusing and clever examples.

Review: This was another story I liked, even though it really was exactly what I said for the summary. I can tell Poe was just having a lot of fun while writing this; his enthusiasm shows on the page, and it was a bit contagious. Probably one of my more liked stories from this group.

Quote:

What constitutes the essence, the nare, the principle of diddling is, in fact, peculiar to the class of creatures that wear coats and pantaloons. A crow thieves; a fox cheats; a weasel outwits; a man diddles. To diddle is his destiny. “Man was made to mourn,” says the poet. But not so:- he was made to diddle.

The Angel of the Odd

AngelOfTheOdd[1]Audio Version: Unavailable

Text Version: Virginia University

Word Count: 3,722 words

Summary: While drunk, a man meets the Angel of the Odd, an imp that holds dominion over freak accidents that are so often written about in the paper. When the man professes that he does not believe in odd accidents, the imp puts him through a series of them, just to prove a point.

Review: Another bizarre tale, but amusing. The Angel of the Odd’s speech was hard to read, and it sort of read like a drunkard’s Alice in Wonderland, but it was a fun read.

Quotes:

“My pizzness!” ejaculated the thing, “vy vot a low bred puppy you mos pe vor to ask a gentleman und an angel apout his pizzness!”

This language was rather more than I could bear, even from an angel; so, plucking up courage, I seized a salt-cellar which lay within reach, and hurled it at the head of the intruder.

I now considered it time to die, (since fortune had so determined to persecute me,) and accordingly made my way to the nearest river.

Mellonta Tauta

mellonta-tauta-675x450Audio Version: Unavailable

Text Version: Virginia University

Word Count: 5,875 words

Summary: Poe submits a manuscript “found in a bottle” to a magazine. The manuscript is in fact a letter written by a lady riding in a hot air balloon hundreds of years in the future.

Review: This story was fairly alright until the end, when the far-fetched “I’m going to finish writing this paragraph, cork a bottle, and do it all calmly while I am plummeting into the sea” finale made me do an eye-roll. I probably would have enjoyed this a lot better if I hadn’t read Hans Pfaal already, or HG Well’s Time Machine. Poe wrote this story better than Hans, but the world, the lunarians, and even the philosophical concepts were all recycled. I don’t really recommend it, unless you’re going to choose between his two hot air balloon stories, in which case this one gets to the point much more quickly.

Quotes:

Nobody to talk to. Nothing to do. When one has nothing to do, then is the time to correspond with ones friends. You perceive, then, why it is that I write you this letter- it is on account of my ennui and your sins.

Get ready your spectacles and make up your mind to be annoyed. I mean to write at you every day during this odious voyage.

…[Amriccans] were oddly afflicted with monomania for building what, in the ancient Amriccan, was denominated “churches”- a kind of pagoda instituted for the worship of two idols that went by the names of Wealth and Fashion. In the end, it is said, the island became, nine tenths of it, church. The women, too, it appears, were oddly deformed by a natural protuberance of the region just below the small of the back- although, most unaccountably, this deformity was looked upon altogether in the light of a beauty.

The inscription commemorates the surrender of- what? why, “of Lord Cornwallis.” The only question is what could the savages wish him surrendered for. But when we remember that these savages were undoubtedly cannibals, we are led to the conclusion that they intended him for sausage.

The Duc de L’omelette

645Audio Version: Archive.org

Text Version: Virginia University

Word Count: 1,288 words

Summary: A man dies from eating bird and wakes up in hell, and attempts to escape.

Review: I won’t lie. This story was really hard to understand. I enjoyed the cameo of Beelzebub, but beyond that, it was almost too short to really get a handle on what was being said. It’s possible the story was just too big for its confines. Another one that I could take or leave.

Quotes:

He buries his face in the pillow. The clock strikes! Unable to restrain his feelings, his Grace swallows an olive.

“Who am I?- ah, true! I am Baal-Zebub, Prince of the Fly. I took thee, just now, from a rose-wood coffin inlaid with ivory. Thou wast curiously scented, and labelled as per invoice. Belial sent thee,- my Inspector of Cemeteries. The pantaloons, which thou sayest were made by Bourdon, are an excellent pair of linen drawers, and thy robe-de-chambre is a shroud of no scanty dimensions.”

The next installment of Tackling Poe will take on the rest of Poe’s short stories, after which I will be reading his only full length novel and his poetry collection. I don’t profess to be a learned person in regard to poetry, but I will do my best to give it justice. After the poetry, the collection focuses on Poe’s essays, which I will take on with one post. In any case, there’s only a few more parts to go, and then Tackling Poe will be finished!

Don’t forget to check out my Dictionary of Purple Prose, also, as I’ve been adding a bunch of new words with each story I read. It’s a stand-alone page, so feel free to bookmark it, suggest words, and use them in your stories to your heart’s content!

If you’d like to read any of the other parts in this series, feel free to check them out below:

11 thoughts on “Tackling Poe: The Complete Works, Part 6

  1. I do recall having to read that story about the nose when in my Humanities/Creative Writing courses in high school. It definitely rings a bell. Poe was so ahead of his time. I often wonder if people perhaps walked a wide circle around him. Good luck with the remaining works! I purchased a Dostoyevsky collection and am slowly getting through it. I truly loved The Idiot, but much of his style is repetitive. His characters drive me to giggling, though, in their often extreme absurdity. Happy reeading!

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    1. I’m not sure. Apparently, he wasn’t very well-liked. I did finally finish! (Thank goodness…) I’ll have to check out Dostoyevsky. I’ve never read anything of his. Poe is also repetitive. Once you read everything, you can figure out when he had crushes on certain themes, and so on… but I bet that’s true of most writers. 🙂

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      1. You’re likely right about that. Do check out Dostoyevsky. His most famous seems to be The Brothers Karamazov but I found The Idiot much more interesting. The way he is so honest about human nature and also displaying compassion for even the mind of a killer is refreshing, for not all murderers are diabolical. He is wonderful about making fun of the characters he also adores. Let me know if you do. I would be interested and no worries if it isn’t your thing. I certainly didn’t think it would be mine. Crime and Punishment is famous; and it is good, but much more heartbreaking.

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