Friday, October 23, 2009

Poe Fridays: The Pit and the Pendulum

For Poe Fridays this week, I chose one of my favorite Poe horror stories, The Pit and the Pendulum. You can read it here.

This is a psychological thriller told in the first person. The narrator has been condemned to death by the Inquisition in Toledo. When his sentence is passed, he blacks out and awakes in a dark room with a slimy floor. We then experience with him the different tortures that he is subjected to. The "pit" and the "pendulum" are but two of these.

I love the darkness and the pacing of this story. It has the same escalation style as a few of Poe's other works. This is a paragraph from the middle of the tale --
What boots it to tell of the long, long hours of horror more than mortal, during which I counted the rushing vibrations of the steel! Inch by inch -- line by line -- with a descent only appreciable at intervals that seemed ages -- down and still down it came! Days passed -- it might have been that many days passed -- ere it swept so closely over me as to fan me with its acrid breath. The odor of the sharp steel forced itself into my nostrils. I prayed -- I wearied heaven with my prayer for its more speedy descent. I grew frantically mad, and struggled to force myself upward against the sweep of the fearful scimitar. And then I fell suddenly calm, and lay smiling at the glittering death, as a child at some rare bauble.

It would be impossible not to form a vivid picture of this horrific scene in your mind. Poe is fantastic at relaying both emotion and the physical environment in this tale. I love it!

As I'm sure you have been expecting, I couldn't pass up the chance for a Halloween Eve reading of the quintessential Poe, The Raven. I hope that you will all join me in revisiting this classic poem!

Fearing another Inquisition,


  1. I have been meaning to read Edgar Allen Poe's books/stories for ages, I will get around to him, I am going to be setting myself a Classics challenge next year as I feel I am ready to really challenge the classics, so Poe's work will definitely be on my list. Thank you for the great blog!
    Big Hugs, Bethxx

  2. Scattie - I hope you do get to reading some Poe. His work is really unique for the time it was written in!