‘I heard all things in the heaven and in the earth. I heard many things in hell…’
Thomas Jefferson once said that ‘honesty is the first chapter of the book wisdom.’ With that in mind it is time for full disclosure. This isn’t really a book review. And Edgar Allen Poe’s The Tell-Tale Heart isn’t really a book. It is, in fact, a short story that was first published in the short lived magazine The Pioneer in January 1843. At a mere few pages however, there is no denying that The Tell-Tale Heart is a vital read. One to cross off the list. It is considered a classic in Gothic fiction and is as compelling as it is familiar.
An unnamed narrator becomes obsessed with thoughts of murdering an old man. The murderer is drawn to the old man’s ‘vulture eye’ and it is this that drives him to kill. The narrator is initially triumphant after the murder but a strange pounding from underneath the floor boards threatens to give him away…
If you don’t know what happens next then you really should give The Tell-Tale Heart 10 minutes of your time for that is all you would need to read through the short story. The real reason I wanted to tackle Poe however, was to give me the opportunity to write about the Poe Toaster. If you don’t have time to read the full Wikipedia entry then allow me to summarize. From some time in the 1930’s until 2010, a mysterious figure, always dressed in black with a wide brimmed hat, would appear at the grave of Edgar Allen Poe in the early hours of January 19th (Poe’s birthday). He would then pour himself a cognac, make a toast, before vanishing into the night leaving behind only the unfinished bottle of cognac and three roses. Attempts to unmask the toaster proved unsuccessful, so even in the age of the internet, the identity of the Poe Toaster remains a delicious mystery.
The internet loves a puzzle but it seems like this one will remain unsolved.