Friday, January 23, 2009

Poe Turns 200

PHUTATORIUS
NPR's On Point gave notice earlier today that Edgar Allan Poe turned 200 on Monday.

If you're like your correspondent Phutatorius, and you were convinced the radical teachers at the "Montresor-y" school down the road were bricking children into walls — well, you can pin all that unwarranted angst on Our Man Poe. All that time I lost picketing outside the building, calling Social Services, when it turns out it was all an honest, homophonic mistake.

Anyway, I linked to "The Cask of Amontillado" because it's his best. You can argue for or against that point in the comments.

MITHRIDATES
You're absolutely right on this one. "Cask of Amontillado" is the best of the bunch, for the opening line alone:

"The thousand injuries of Fortunato I had borne as I best could, but when he ventured upon insult, I vowed revenge."
Genius. And "The Pit" ends brilliantly. After avoiding the pit in the darkness and harnessing rats to free him from the pendulum, our hero screams as he is about to be forced into the bottomless void:

"There was a discordant hum of human voices! There was a loud blast as of many trumpets! There was a harsh grating as of a thousand thunders! The fiery walls rushed back! An outstretched arm caught my own as I fell fainting into the abyss. It was that of General Lasalle. The French army had entered Toledo. The Inquisition was in the hands of its enemies."
OK, a little suspension of disbelief is required to imagine a triumphant French army. But the guy could start and the guy could finish. He's the Dennis Eckersley of American Lit.

But for those who'd rather be read to: