October 7th, 2012

Edgar Allan Poe/Raven

Halloween Countdown, Day 7

On this day in 1849, Edgar Allan Poe died at the age of forty under mysterious circumstances.

For more information about Poe's death, read "Mysterious for Evermore" by Matthew Pearl, an article on Poe's death from The Telegraph. Pearl is the author of a fascinating recent novel about the subject, The Poe Shadow.

Three years ago, on the occasion of Poe's 200th birthday, I took over the StarShipSofa Audio Science Fiction Magazine to host an hour-long tribute to this pioneer of the short story, luminary of Gothic horror, father of detective fiction, and giant of science fiction. You can listen to the podcast here at the StarShipSofa website, or download it here, or access it via iTunes. If you listen, I hope you enjoy my celebration of Poe's life, works, and legacy!

The following are some of my favorite links about Edgar Allan Poe:
* PoeStories.com: An Exploration of Short Stories by Edgar Allan Poe
* The Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore
* The Poe Museum of Richmond (See my pictures of the museum here.)

In 2011, I visited his final resting place in Baltimore and took these photos.


Here's Poe's "The Raven," read by James Earl Jones:




Speaking of terrific readings, I highly recommend Gabriel Byrne's reading of "The Masque of the Red Death": Part 1 and Part 2. Poe's "The Masque of the Red Death" is our Text of the Day.

Excerpt: The "Red Death" had long devastated the country. No pestilence had ever been so fatal, or so hideous. Blood was its Avatar and its seal -- the redness and the horror of blood. There were sharp pains, and sudden dizziness, and then profuse bleeding at the pores, with dissolution. The scarlet stains upon the body and especially upon the face of the victim, were the pest ban which shut him out from the aid and from the sympathy of his fellow-men. And the whole seizure, progress and termination of the disease, were the incidents of half an hour.

But the Prince Prospero was happy and dauntless and sagacious. When his dominions were half depopulated, he summoned to his presence a thousand hale and light-hearted friends from among the knights and dames of his court, and with these retired to the deep seclusion of one of his castellated abbeys. This was an extensive and magnificent structure, the creation of the prince's own eccentric yet august taste. A strong and lofty wall girdled it in. This wall had gates of iron. The courtiers, having entered, brought furnaces and massy hammers and welded the bolts. They resolved to leave means neither of ingress or egress to the sudden impulses of despair or of frenzy from within. The abbey was amply provisioned. With such precautions the courtiers might bid defiance to contagion. The external world could take care of itself. In the meantime it was folly to grieve, or to think. The prince had provided all the appliances of pleasure. There were buffoons, there were improvisatori, there were ballet-dancers, there were musicians, there was Beauty, there was wine. All these and security were within. Without was the "Red Death."

Read the Complete Short Story: Here.