Saturday, September 12, 2009
Poe Fridays (on Saturday)
Wow, I have a LOT of Poe to catch up on! I'll keep each selection short - let's get going! (If you click on each title, you can read the full text of the work.)
The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar - another mesmerism story, in which a man decides to hypnotize his friend, Valdemar, at the point of death.
This was quite a different story than the last tale about mesmerism we read. The last one was quite philosophical and deep - this one was more like a gross out tale. Lots of seeping of bodily fluids, etc. I was not quite prepared for this from Poe! There is some possibility that the detail in the story about Valdemar's demise from tuburculosis was from Poe's knowledge about his wife Virginia, who was dying from the same disease. Either way, it was a little much for me.
The Sleeper - another poem about a beautiful woman who dies, and the lover she leaves behind.
This isn't my favorite of Poe's work - it seemed a little draggy in the middle, as he goes on and on about the vault. I found it interesting that Poe felt this poem was one of his superior works - better than the Raven! I'm not sure what criteria he used to judge that, but I can't say I agree with him.
Eldorado - a short poem about a man searching for the fabled Eldorado. As he nears the end of his a life, he meets a Shadow, who tells him to keep riding and he will find it.
It's interesting to note that Poe wrote this poem toward the end of his life. It's certainly easy to read the similarities between the knight, searching for the fabled city of gold, and Poe, searching for the elusive fortune that writing might bring. Perhaps he was looking toward his own death, and trying to find some hope.
The Spectacles - longish story dealing with the pitfalls of love at first sight. A handsome young man, with a small eyesight problems, sees a beautiful woman at the theater and falls in love at first sight. After managing a meeting, the man professes his love, and asks the woman to marry him. She agrees, but makes a condition that he must wear eyeglasses, for her sake. When he puts the glasses on, he sees the truth about the woman he believes he loves.
This story was delightful! None of Poe's usual darkness, but rather quite humorous in tone, and with a surprisingly happy ending. Poe clearly doesn't think much of the idea of love at first sight, and also seems to be warning readers a bit of the dangers of vanity. Despite the fairly obvious "morals", the story still feels light, and I found myself chuckling aloud several times. This might be my new favorite Poe story!
Whew! All caught up. There will be no Poe next week, due to BBAW, but we'll continue the following week with The Premature Burial. Poe Fridays is hosted by Kristen at WeBeReading.