the facts in the case of m. valdemar : LUSENET : The Work of Edgar Allan Poe : One Thread

can it be explained what happens to m. valdemar? my opinion (and the opinion of a friend,) vary greatly as to what happened at the end of the tale. i believe the horror of it is that valdemar is destined to spend his essense in a sort of purgatory after the disintigration of his body.

my friend believes it not to be so complex.

any thoughts on this? thanks.

-- Anonymous, October 04, 2000



This story, The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar, was a fabulous tale for the time and it stirred no small measure of excitement. This excitement was not only evident in the United States at the time, but it was reprinted in England as a factual case of hypnotism successfully arresting the progress of death. Only partially understood, hypnotism was then known as mesmerism and Poe had maintained an interest for years.

First printed in the American Review in December of 1845, it was reprinted in the Broadway Journal on December 20 of the same year. By January 3, 1846, it was printed in the Morning Post in London with the title Mesmerism, In Articulo Mortis An Astounding and Horrifying Narrative. Shewing the Extraordinary Power of Mesmerism in Arresting the Progress of Death. It was attributed to Edgar A. Poe Esq. of New York and treated as a factual case, much to the amusement of Edgar A. Poe.

Frankly, I see this as an excellent example of Poes intellectual prowess combined with his literary talents to produce a tale filled with possible, perhaps even probable events that surround and sustain a story with an impossible premise and conclusion. Although Poes graphic descriptions and verbal illustrations are unusually disgusting for the time, it is the only element that contributes to horror genre. Without these, it would be merely science fiction. It is also no small evidence of his brilliance in creating an atmosphere of believability. At least the British bought it. hook, line and sinker!

By the end of the story, the narrator has visited M. Valdemar daily for a span of some seven months and for seven months, M. Valdemars condition has remained unaltered. Death has been beaten and physical decomposition halted. There is no heart beat, no breath, no discernible signs of life at all. Finally, the narrator determines it is time to release M. Valdemar from his hypnotic trance and to do so he must attempt to awaken the subject. As the narrator makes the customary gestures to remove the trance, the corpse, without moving, pleads in that horrifying voice to be put to sleep or awakened so that death can consume him, perhaps as God had intended, before the narrators experiment. As he is released from the trance, his body begins to decompose within seconds to the dismay and horror of those present.

Well thats my interpretation. What was yours Mike?


-- Anonymous, October 05, 2000

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