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Halloween Countdown, Day 7

Happy birthday to fory_san. May you have a wonderful day today and many more to come!

The school for which I teach, Belmont University, is hosting tonight's U.S. Town Hall Presidential Debate. If you happen to watch the event, you'll be seeing my campus.

On this day in 1849, Edgar Allan Poe died at the age of forty under mysterious circumstances. For more information, read "Mysterious for Evermore" by Matthew Pearl, an article on Poe's death from The Telegraph. Pearl is the author of a recent novel about the subject, The Poe Shadow. I read it last year and found it to be fascinating.

LINKS OF THE DAY: 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

LITERATURE OF THE DAY: Today's reading is the work that Poe considered to be his best short story, "Ligeia."

Excerpt from "Ligeia" by Edgar Allan Poe:
An hour thus elapsed when (could it be possible?) I was a second time aware of some vague sound issuing from the region of the bed. I listened --in extremity of horror. The sound came again --it was a sigh. Rushing to the corpse, I saw --distinctly saw --a tremor upon the lips. In a minute afterward they relaxed, disclosing a bright line of the pearly teeth. Amazement now struggled in my bosom with the profound awe which had hitherto reigned there alone. I felt that my vision grew dim, that my reason wandered; and it was only by a violent effort that I at length succeeded in nerving myself to the task which duty thus once more had pointed out. There was now a partial glow upon the forehead and upon the cheek and throat; a perceptible warmth pervaded the whole frame; there was even a slight pulsation at the heart. The lady lived; and with redoubled ardor I betook myself to the task of restoration. I chafed and bathed the temples and the hands, and used every exertion which experience, and no little. medical reading, could suggest. But in vain. Suddenly, the color fled, the pulsation ceased, the lips resumed the expression of the dead, and, in an instant afterward, the whole body took upon itself the icy chilliness, the livid hue, the intense rigidity, the sunken outline, and all the loathsome peculiarities of that which has been, for many days, a tenant of the tomb.

Read the complete story.



( 8 comments — Leave a comment )
Oct. 7th, 2008 08:39 pm (UTC)
Why can't we say things like "Amazement now struggled in my bosom with the profound awe which had hitherto reigned there alone." anymore? We use the few words we still have nowadays for so many things they've lost all meaning.
Oct. 8th, 2008 11:52 am (UTC)
Well said. He had so many tools at his disposal as a writer, and he employed them with such a deft hand. The sentence you quoted is exquisite, isn't it? The fact he is still read (and Mary Shelley, etc.) should tell us that some readers, at least, prefer to read such rich and evocative work. There is still a market for it! (Or so I wish to believe, anyway...)

Edited at 2008-10-08 11:56 am (UTC)
Oct. 7th, 2008 10:35 pm (UTC)
Speaking of seeing your campus, a local news crew shot their footage so that you could see that back of Heron Hall. The door that used to lead to your office was totally on TV. I thought it was a weird place to be shooting, but it was just the local news.
Oct. 8th, 2008 11:50 am (UTC)
How crazy is that? It's like the least scenic spot on the entire campus! But at least I can say that the door to my past office was on TV. Watching reporters standing outside of the Curb Center yesterday, surrounded by their crews, I kept thinking of what great business Bongo Java must have been doing, mere yards away. Mmmmm, Bongo Java.

Edited at 2008-10-08 11:50 am (UTC)
Oct. 8th, 2008 01:21 am (UTC)
*waves* Hello from a Belmont graduate (98). distaff_exile pointed me your way. Really odd to see the campus on national tv!
Oct. 8th, 2008 11:48 am (UTC)
Hi there, fellow Bruin! *waves back* I'm so glad to meet you. It is very odd indeed to see the campus on national TV. I kept seeing different reporters standing outside of the Curb Center, surrounded by their camera people, and all I could think was "I bet they are keeping Bongo Java hopping today!"
Oct. 8th, 2008 01:08 pm (UTC)
Hm, I wonder why he considered it his best short story? The beloved wife back from the dead, perhaps?
Oct. 8th, 2008 01:31 pm (UTC)
Yes indeed. Terribly sad, isn't it?

I think he tried to get that love story plus Gothic grotesque equation right, but felt like he hadn't quite achieved what he wanted in “Berenice” and “Morella.” "Ligeia" ended up much closer to his original mark.
( 8 comments — Leave a comment )