Poevember

saying goodbye to Poevember.

Alas! It is once again that time of year when we must say farewell to our friend Poevember. I had so much fun reading and reviewing EdgarAllan Poe’s work, and I hope it sparked a bit of interest for Poe’s writing in you all.edgar allan bro

It’s hard to pick a favorite piece of writing, so I’ll just list the ones I really loved:

Goodbye, Poevember! See you next year!

Yours,

HOLLY

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Poevember

Poevember: THE RAVEN

the raven cover“Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary…”

So begins one of Edgar Allan Poe’s most famous works, “The Raven.” This poem tells the tale of a man who is visited by a talking raven, who only speaks one unsettling word again and again. As the narrator gradually descends into insanity, the reader is filled with a sense that this raven is a symbol for something larger than life itself.

THIS POEM IS FANTASTIC.

The structure of the poem itself was just amazing. The rhyme scheme was absolutely brilliant, and the lines flowed seamlessly from one to the next. It was a poetry lover’s paradise.

This poem has so much potential for symbolism, metaphors, and analysis that I could probably spend days rambling on about what it all really means. There is a feeling of despair, of loss of control, of the inevitability of heartache and sorrow. The cryptic message that the raven ceaselessly repeats- NEVERMORE- can be interpreted in a number of ways, which is one of the things I love about this poem. I think everyone can connect to it in some way because we have all felt a sense of longing and being lost before.

OH, IT’S SO GOOD.

This dark, unsettling, beautifully written poem will leave you wanting to read it again and again and again. It was an incredible way to end my Poevember reading, and I am so glad that I saved this one for last. I highly, highly, highly recommend it!

Yours,

HOLLY

Poevember

Poevember: THE GOLD-BUG

the gold bug cover“Many years ago, I contracted an intimacy with a Mr. William Legrand.”

When the narrator hears that his friend William Legrand has been bitten by a mysterious gold bug, he is eager to know more. However, he soon realizes that this bug is driving Legrand to the point of obsessive insanity, as he attempts to find the hidden treasure he is convinced corresponds with this strange bug. Filled with secret messages, codes, and crazy schemes, this mystery is sure to keep you guessing.

This story was really unique, especially when compared to Poe’s other stories. It is set in South Carolina and is the first time that an African American has played a primary role in the story. Legrand’s servant, Jupiter, speaks in a southern dialect and his often humorous language implies that Poe did not think highly of African Americans. Was Poe being racist, or was that how he really interpreted their behavior? As someone who is not very educated on Edgar Allan Poe’s life, it’s hard to say. Nevertheless, it was quite an interesting aspect of life to read about.

Cryptography is a large part of this story, and it was fascinating to see how Legrand decoded secret messages. It made me realize just how intelligent Poe was, to be able to construct such brilliant and creative codes. It’s a different angle of the mystery genre than Poe usually writes about, but I think he executed it very well. There is also an old-fashioned buried treasure side of this short story, which was enjoyable to read as well.

Overall, this story was yet again a great one. It’s not one of my absolute favorite Poe stories, but it is still quite good and well worth reading.

Yours,

HOLLY

Poevember

Poevember: THE MURDERS IN THE RUE MORGUE

the murders in the rue morgue cover“The mental features discoursed of as the analytical, are, in themselves, but little susceptible of analysis.”

“The Murders in the Rue Morgue” is an intriguing short story about a brilliant detective and an unsettling mystery. When two women are horrifically murdered, the authorities immediately begin to investigate the case. Several witnesses offer accounts of their experiences at the scene of the crime, but few of them line up. Enter Dupin, a Parisian man with a knack for critical thinking. In no time at all he has the solution- and what a story it turns out to be!

This story is a quirky balance of disturbing and charming. The latter quality applies to the murders themselves, which are gruesome and explained in too much detail at times. These terrible scenes are countered by the entertaining friendship between the narrator and Dupin, the clever detective. It’s clear that Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was influenced by the dynamics of these characters because his own creations, Sherlock Holmes and John Watson, also fall into the pattern of the brilliant detective with a more average, practical friend. Perhaps it is my love of BBC’s Sherlock shining through, but I really enjoyed reading about an earlier version of this captivating duo.

The mystery itself adds to the greatness of this short story because it is fascinating and remarkably unique. I did guess the outcome of the mystery before the ending, but judging from the way the story was written it seems as though Poe wanted that to happen. The most interesting part was learning how all of the intricate details played out, right down to why all of the witness accounts conflicted with each other. I don’t want to accidentally spoil anything, so suffice it to say that Poe has definitely crafted an excellent mystery in “The Murders in the Rue Morgue”.

Overall, I highly recommend this short story, especially for fans of Sherlock Holmes!

Yours,

HOLLY

Quotes

QUOTE: Edgar Allan Poe

“It is a happiness to wonder; it is a happiness to dream.”  ~ Edgar Allan Poe

This week is the final week of Poevember 2014! My, how fast it has come and gone! I’ll be doing an official wrap-up post at the end of the month, But I just wanted to say a quick thanks to everyone for their support and enthusiasm during this month-long event. You guys are the best!

What quotes have you discovered recently? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

Poevember

Poevember: THE MASQUE OF THE RED DEATH

12703.i.43, opposite 248“The ‘Red Death’ had long devastated the country.”

The Red Death, a brutal disease that refuses to stop spreading, does not stop the rich from having a good time. In the midst of the chaos of fighting this plague, Prince Prospero decides to host an enormous party for his wealthy noble friends. After all, don’t they deserve to celebrate after having avoided the Red Death for so long? This extravagant event is a grand experience- that is, until one mysterious guest causes everything to go horribly, terribly wrong.

This short story is really interesting to read when one considers the recent media coverage that the Ebola outbreak has been receiving. To me, western countries today resemble the partying nobles in the story- ignorant, unappreciative, forever in denial that there are serious issues in the world that need to be confronted. As an American, I do often feel as though I should be doing more to help those living in undesirable circumstances. It just goes to show that Poe’s work is still incredibly relevant and important in modern-day society.

As for the story itself, I thought it was absolutely brilliant. The set up of the different colored rooms in the house is executed perfectly, and you really get a feel for how ignorant and foolish the nobles are. Throughout the entire story I sensed that something bad was going to happen, but I had no idea how it would manifest itself. The suspense builds up all the way until the very end until the epic conclusion. I sat there for a few moments after I finished it going OH. MY. GOODNESS.

The Masque of the Red Death definitely gets two thumbs up from me!

Yours,

HOLLY

WWW Wednesdays

WWW Wednesdays: November 19th

WWW WednesdaysWWW Wednesdays is a meme hosted by Should Be Reading that asks three questions:

What are you currently reading???

An amazing book based on old Doctor Who adventures called Ten Little Aliens by Stephen Cole. It’s SO GOOD- like a Doctor Who episode, but in book form! I’m also listening to an audiobook of The Secret Adversary by Agatha Christie, which I’m also really enjoying.

What did you recently finish reading???

Over the weekend I finished reading In the Shadow of the Master, which is a collection of work by Edgar Allan Poe. It includes many essays by modern mystery writers and compilation is edited by Michael Connelly. For anyone looking to dive into the world of Poe, this is a great collection to start with! It has fueled all of my Poevember adventures. 🙂

What do you think you’ll read next???

Most likely one of the books I recently bought in Spanish- I’m trying to broaden my language horizons! More on that later. *hint hint*

What are your answers to these questions? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

Poevember

Poevember: THE PIT AND THE PENDULUM

the pit and the pendulum cover“I was sick — sick unto death with that long agony; and when they at length unbound me, and I was permitted to sit, I felt that my senses were leaving me.”

During the Spanish Inquisition, our unfortunate narrator is sentenced to death and put in a chamber of imprisonment. Through darkness, confinement, rats, and borderline insanity, the reader is brought alongside the narrator on this bumpy ride in an attempt to escape certain death. Will the narrator die a gruesome death, or will he escape against all odds? The only way to find out is to make it to the very end- if you can.

THIS WAS EXCEPTIONAL. Oh my goodness, people, this was amazing! Not only is the setting incredibly unique and fascinating on its own, but the way Poe sets up the story is beyond suspenseful. I literally could not put this story down once I started reading it because I just HAD to know what happened to the narrator at the end! Poe is a master at all things frightening and disturbing, and “The Pit and the Pendulum” is certainly both. It’s not too graphic as to be disgusting or revolting, but it’s not a comforting read in the slightest. And the ending- I never ever saw it coming!

If you’re going to start reading Poe’s work, you MUST add this short story to your list! You won’t be disappointed!

Yours,

HOLLY

 

Poevember

Poevember: LIGEIA

ligeia cover“I cannot, for my soul, remember how, when, or even precisely where, I first became acquainted with the lady Ligeia.”

As the first sentence suggests, this short story is about the narrator’s lover, Ligeia. After describing precisely why he loves her so much, he reveals the unfortunate circumstance that has befallen their love: Lady Ligeia is sick, seriously so. One thing leads to another, and soon both the narrator and the reader are faced with a situation they never saw coming.

I apologize for the fairly vague summary, but I wrote it that way for two reasons. First, I didn’t want to give anything away that could be considered a spoiler. But the primary reason is that not much happens in this story, so there isn’t really a lot to summarize without getting into the ending. The first half of the story is basically just the narrator describing in great detail why Ligeia is so fabulous and why he loves her so much. After that some little things happen, and then there’s the ending. That’s essentially it. Although I did really like the ending- it’s unexpected and a little frightening, very Poe- I’m not sure if it was worth reading all that, well, boring stuff in the beginning.

Overall, I thought this short story was just so-so. It wasn’t terrible, but it’s not one of Poe’s better ones.

Yours,

HOLLY

Poevember

Poevember: THE FACTS IN THE CASE OF M. VALDEMAR

the facts in the case of m valdemar cover“Of course I shall not pretend to consider it any matter for wonder, that the extraordinary case of M. Valdemar has excited discussion.”

The narrator of Poe’s short story “The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar” is fascinated by mesmerism, an early form of hypnotism. His ultimate goal is to attempt to mesmerize someone who is on the brink of death because to his knowledge it has never been done before. Luckily for him, one of his friends, M. Ernest Valdemar, is dying of tuberculosis and only has a few more days to live. After Valdemar agrees to go through with this strange experiment, the narrator hustles down to begin working. But no one, not even the narrator, could have guessed what would happen once the experiment starts.

This story was excellent, to say the least. It keeps you ravenously turning the pages because you simply must know what happens to poor Valdemar once the mesmerism has begun. There is also the interesting perspective to consider, which had me intrigued from the very first time it is mentioned. The narrator is telling a story that actually happened to him many months ago, and I couldn’t help but wonder, Why now? Why tell the story after all these months? I guessed that something must have happened recently to elicit this change, but I never predicted the actual outcome. The ending is gruesome and fantastic all the same, and definitely one worth waiting for!

Overall, this quick, fast-paced story is a great one to read if you’re in the mood for a little something different.

Yours,

HOLLY