Saturday, June 6, 2009

Poe Fridays (on Saturday)

This week we read the short story, The Assignation.

Another unnamed narrator is floating down a canal in Venice of an evening, when he hears a loud scream, and sees a crowd gathered. A woman - the most beautiful woman in Venice - has dropped her child from her arms into the water. Many men are attempting to rescue the child, but all are unsuccessful. Suddenly, one more man jumps into the water, and returns with the child. The woman, overcome with gratitude, asks the man to meet her the next day.

Our narrator offers the man a ride home, which he accepts. He asks the narrator to return the next day to take him to meet the woman. When the narrator arrives the next morning, the man shows him his collection of treasures - beautiful paintings, sculptures, and art worth a vast sum of money. While browsing the man's collection, a servant rushes in to announce the woman has been found dead - poisoned! When the narrator hurries to the man's side, he finds him dead as well.

Oh, Poe, master of the melodramatic! This story leaves many questioned unanswered - did the woman and the man know each other previously? Why was the woman killed? Was it planned? Was the man also poisoned, or did he die from the shock of the news? Who was this strange, remarkable man, anyway? This story lost me a little bit in the pages of description of the man's treasures - I couldn't tell why that was important to the overall narrative. But the shocking death was certainly fun!

Next week, we will read the short story Diddling. That has to be fun, right? Poe Fridays is hosted by Kristen at WeBeReading.


Kristen M. said...

I'm totally with you on getting distracted during the description of the man's "room of riches". This could have been an even shorter story, I think!

Edward Yablonsky said...

The Assignation has two levels of meanings,so it appears to me. The narrator is possibly a joint suicide with Marchesa Mentoni. The hints of esoteric and classical allusions are definitive in pointing to possible attitudes and meanings of the narrator:
His huge collection of clssical art and statuary; the first paragraph of the story is certain ly referring to the "savior of the Marchessa'a daughter.

ILL-FATED and mysterious man ! - bewildered in the brilliancy of thine own imagination, and fallen in the flames of thine own youth ! Again in fancy I behold thee ! Once more thy form hath risen before me ! - not - oh not as thou art - in the cold valley and shadow - but as thou shouldst be - squandering away a life of magnificent meditation in that city of dim visions, thine own Venice - which is a star-beloved Elysium of the sea, and the wide windows of whose Palladian palaces look down with a deep and bitter meaning upon the secrets of her silent waters. Yes ! I repeat it - as thou shouldst be . There are surely other worlds than this - other thoughts than the thoughts of the multitude - other speculations than the speculations of the sophist. Who then shall call thy conduct into question ? who blame thee for thy visionary hours, or denounce those occupations as a wasting away of life, which were but the overflowings of thine everlasting energies ?

Allusions to Ravisius Textor, Politian's the Orfeo end of Act III arwe definitive and not capricious.
Was the Marquessa poisoned or was it self administered.?

Edward Yablonsky said...

Correction tnot the narrator,but the "Savior of the child from the frigid waters."