The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar

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The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar is a short story written by Edgar Allan Poe and first published in 1845. In it, the narrator, a mesmerist, explains how he was able to successfully put a dying man into a trance. For days after death, the corpse remains capable of speech and does not decompose. Poe did not initially claim this tale was fiction, and, knowing little about hypnosis and the details of death at the time, some people believed it was true until Poe later admitted it was a ruse. The story seems to have borrowed its idea from Oscar Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray.

Personal

Own?No
Read?Audio book.
FinishedDecember 2017.

I read this expand my knowledge of Poe's work. I found it to be quite dreadful.

The story is in the public domain.

Review

Overall:

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— This section contains spoilers! —

Good

  • Since the people of the 1800s still viewed mesmerism as as a legitimate phenomenon equivalent to magic, I can see how this story would have stirred both fear and intrigue at the time. Too bad for the story that science has progressed so far as to make it clearly fictional today.
  • The word use to describe the rapidly rotting corpse at the end is quite tangible.

Bad

  • Real hypnosis is actually very limited, and actual death means brain death. Anyone with a basic understanding of human physiology would immediately see this as a hoax.
  • The story, is pretty dark and grotesque. Not really my kind of thing.
  • I guess you could chalk the story up to a cautionary tale against "playing god," but I usually don't appreciate such psuedo-humility.

Ugly

  • Nothing.

Links

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