This week, we read The Cask of Amontillado, which is one of my favorite of Poe's short stories. This story, along with The Tell-Tale Heart, The Fall of the House of Usher, and The Gold Bug, was in the Children's Illustrated Classics version my dad read to me when I was a little girl. I can STILL see the illustrations from that book every time I read this short story.
In this story, we find the narrator, Montresor, plotting revenge on his so-called friend, Fortunato. The exact offense that pushes him over the edge is not named, but is apparently the last straw in a lifetime of offenses. "The thousand injuries of Fortunato I had borne as best I could, but when he ventured upon insult, I vowed revenge." Montresor, however, wants to get his revenge in a way that noone will suspect, with no possiblilty of blame falling upon him. Fortunato considers himself a wine connesour, so when Montresor approaches him to ask his opinion on a particularly good wine, Fortunato immediately insists upon going with him. From there, it is but a short trip to Montresor's wine cellar, and Fortunato's end.
This is another of Poe's great, chilling revenge stories. I have always felt that, because the narrator seemingly never gets found out, the story is that much more creepy. And yet, you have to wonder why Montresor would ever share this story - is he bragging? Or has he lived with his guilty conscience for too long, and finally can't help but confess.
Of course, there is a rumor attached to the story that Poe wrote it as an act of literary revenge against a rival. Honestly, I love literary revenge. Authors writing barely-concealed references to each other, and making their villains meet horrible ends. I think it's a literary tradition that is due for revival.
Next week we read another short story, The Oval Portrait. Poe Friday is hosted by Kristen at WeBeReading.