Monday, October 26, 2009

The Pit and the Pendulum and Five Other Tales

The Pit and the Pendulum and Five Other Tales by Edgar Allan Poe

This is a collection of short stories written by one of the most respected authors of horror stories, Edgar Allan Poe. The lead story, "The Pit and the Pendulum", is riveting in its ability to draw in the reader. In the first line of the story, we learn that someone has been sentenced to death by the Spanish Inquisition. The prisoner's hands and feet are bound. When he comes to, he finds himself in a dark dungeon. He is blinded by the blackness, but begins to desperately explore his cell by feeling along the wall and floor. When he trips, he finds his chin hard against a cold slimy surface, but his nose and cheek contact nothing, nothing at all...that is his first inkling that there is a deep, seemingly endless pit in the middle of his dungeon.
Inventive torture is a specialty of the Spanish Inquisition. After the prisoner does not fall into the pit, the jailers need to find another method to torture him to death. When he wakes up next, he finds himself completely bound, lying on a table. The only part of him that can move is his left elbow and hand. The prisoner is extremely hungry and thirsty. He finds a bowl full of meat just within reach of his hand. He begins to eat bits of meat...then he hears rats creeping out of the pit. The rats are horrifying enough,but when he sees a strange pendulum moving back and forth above him, he realizes it is swinging lower toward him with each pass. The pendulum is posed exactly above his heart.
Will the prisoner survive the pit and the pendulum? Will the torturers break his willl to live, or will he lose his sanity to the evil devices of those who conspire against him?
Edgar Allan Poe user a large vocabulary and is fond of making descriptive passages, but this is part of the intrigue and helps set the eerie quality of his stories.
Edgar Allan Poe's stories are classics and will be something you hear about the rest of your life. His stories will haunt you for years to come.

1 comment:

  1. I have heard about Edgar Allen Poe's writing all my life. I have also wondered about the Spanish Inquisition...what a good description of this awful dungeon.
    I think a video clip of the pendulum swinging back and forth would be a powerful visual graphic for your book recommendation.