Saturday, July 18, 2009

Poe Fridays (on Saturday)

This week, we read the short story The Devil in the Belfry.

There is a small, charming "Dutch" village called Vondervottemietttis, which is perfectly happy to stay to itself. The charming houses all look the same, and all are decorated with time-pieces and cabbages. The villagers believe that nothing good comes from outside their small town, and every day they pay special attention to what time it is. The man who is in charge of keeping their large, impressive town clock is the most important man in the village. Then, one day, just before the clock strikes twelve, a man arrives from outside the village and beats up the clock keeper, resulting in chaos. The clock strikes 13, everything goes crazy, and the village is never the same again.

Apparently, this story was meant as a satire of one or two things - President Martin Van Buren and his election methods, and the city of New York. I don't quite understand the Van Buren satire, but apparently the city of New York can be seen as Vondervottemiettis, happily settled by "the Dutch", and the man who comes in and ruins things is "the Irish".

Honestly, I didn't get either one of these references from just reading the story - another case of an author's intent lost to me, because I don't know the history behind its writing. It was, however, an entertaining little story, although one that didn't make a whole lot of sense. I was amused by the poor little villagers whose lives where thrown into uproar by the strange man from outside.

Poe Fridays is hosted by Kristen at WeBeReading.

1 comment:

Kristen M. said...

Those historical references are really interesting. I don't really understand them either but maybe the people in the time Poe wrote this would have caught them. I can't say I know much about Van Buren! How funny though that if the interloper was the Irish that he made him off-beat ... are the Irish bad dancers? ;)