So, we have crisp fall nights. We have costumes. We have buckets and pillowcases brimming with treats. We have pumpkins grinning and flashights swinging. We have screams, haunted houses, whisps of dry ice floating around ruby red slippers, cowboy boots, and superhero tights.
We have arrived at All Hallows’ Eve. Bwahaha.
I’m not a big fan of horror, but I have to admit the impact of writers like Anne Rice, Steven King, and other modern authors, even Lemony Snicket, who got kids reading and scared the bejesus out of them.
But I have to give props to the best of the best, the man who started it all, Edgar Allen Poe. Remember reading The Raven in English/Literature class in high school? That was SO COOL, and scary, and awesome. I didn’t sleep for weeks. I stayed away from Poe, but my brother got into him and read everything and used to tell me parts of the Telltale Heart and other scary stories to the point I’d put my hands over my ears and scream.
Mom said to stop scaring the little tyke.
Poe died before the Civil War, so his writing is somewhat formal, and it fits the genre, but he didn’t always write horror. He wrote about adventure on the high seas, buried pirate treasure, and a famous balloon ride. He virtually invented the detective story with tales like “Murders in the Rue Morgue” and “The Purloined Letter”. Sherlock Holmes and other fictional detectives would later be based on the characters that Poe created. Poe wrote love stories and even a few strange little comedies. But mostly, he indulged in gothic horror.
A few spooky quotes to get your Halloween on:
“It was night, and the rain fell; and falling, it was rain, but, having fallen, it was blood.” from “Silence – A Fable”
He pointed to garments;-they were muddy and clotted with gore. I spoke not, and he took me gently by the hand; –it was indented with the impress of human nails. He directed my attention to some object against the wall; –I looked at it for some minutes; –it was a spade. With a shriek I bounded to the table, and grasped the box that lay upon it. But I could not force it open; and in my tremor it slipped from my hands, and fell heavily, and burst into pieces; and from it, with a rattling sound, there rolled out some instruments of dental surgery, intermingled with thirty-two small, white and ivory-looking substances that were scattered to and fro about the floor. From “Berenice”
There was blood upon her white robes, and the evidence of some bitter struggle upon every portion of her emaciated frame. For a moment she remained trembling and reeling to and fro upon the threshold, then, with a low moaning cry, fell heavily inward upon the person of her brother, and in her violent and now final death-agonies, bore him to the floor a corpse, and a victim to the terrors he had anticipated. From “The House of Usher”
Poe was indeed a troubled man; some said he was insane, and his writing certainly may prove that. All his stories and poems point to death, alcoholism, and troubled souls. The Black Cat is narrated by what is described as an “unreliable narrator”. We question his sanity from the start, and by the end we are quite sure he is not altogether sane.
Poe was reviled for his day; some quotes tell us his writings were laughable and badly written
Your treat for tonight? Read The Raven. http://www.heise.de/ix/raven/Literature/Lore/TheRaven.html