“the most damnable, vraisemblable, horrible, hair-lifting, shocking…”

Posted on October 31, 2013 by


… ingenious chapter of fiction that any brain ever conceived, or hands traced.

Illustration for Edgar Allan Poe's "The F...

Illustration for Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar” by Harry Clarke (1889-1931). Published in 1919. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

So wrote Philip Pendleton Cooke (you remember… John Esten Cooke’s older brother), in August 1846, when sharing his thoughts with Edgar Allan Poe regarding Poe’s The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar

The quote seems amazing to me… to think, not just that this is proof that Poe’s tales of horror reached the Shenandoah Valley, but also the circumstances in which Cooke decided it the best time to read the piece (emphasis made in the quote below is mine)…

I [it] read… last winter — as I lay in a Turkey blind, muffled to the eyes in overcoats, &c…. That gelatinous, viscous sound of man’s voice! there never was such an idea before. That story scared me in broad day, armed with a double-barrel Tryon Turkey gun. What would it have done at midnight in some old ghostly countryhouse?

Just think of it… in the 1840s, in the antebellum South… a Southern boy (albeit Princeton-educated), in a turkey blind… reading Poe.

If you haven’t read it, might I recommend… as dusk leads the way to Halloween night, and when the ghouls and goblins begin to roam the streets… that you access the audio version, here?

To borrow a line used by E.G. Marshall as he used to conclude each episode of the CBS Radio Mystery Theater (my favorite radio show, from the 1970s and early 80s)…

Until next time, pleasant… dreams?