Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Short Story Wednesday: "The Pit and the Pendulum" by Edgar Allan Poe

The Pit and the Pendulum by Edgar Allan Poe (1842)

What first struck me about Edgar Allan Poe's story, "The Pit and the Pendulum", was how beautiful the language is; how much I love the feel of his words in my mouth. It's a shame I was unable to read the story out loud as I read. It's poetic in its own way. I suppose that makes sense, given that the author also was well known for his poems.

The narrator has been imprisoned in what appears to be a torture chamber in a dungeon after being sentenced to death in the Inquisition. The story tells of how he explores his surroundings and faces death several times, only to escape it at the last minute. The reader is led to believe that the narrator may be unreliable, out of touch with his senses, and yet he proceeds to tell the story in a very rational way. "The Pit and the Pendulum" carries a glimmer of hope even while having a strong sense of foreboding. It is a dark and violent tale, full of suspense and intensity. Perfect for the Readers Imbibing Peril (R.I.P.) Challenge.

You can find the story, "The Pit and the Pendulum", and read it for free here.

© 2010, Wendy Runyon of Musings of a Bookish Kitty. All Rights Reserved.If you're reading this on a site other than Musings of a Bookish Kitty or Wendy's feed, be aware that this post has been stolen and is used without permission.


  1. I really loved this one! I find Poe to very creepy-fantastic :)

  2. Everything I have read by Poe I have really liked. I haven't read this one, though! For how much I have liked him over the years I really should have read more by him!

  3. I am such a ding dong!

    I have an entire book of Poe short stories and did not remember to add them to my RIP reading list!

    I am embarrassed to admit that I have never read Poe - but I think I will remedy that situation over the next two months!

  4. I love this story! We saw a movie of it once upon a time back in junior high and it freaked me out! What good creepy stuff! :)

  5. I adore Poe and just love all of his creepy stories!

  6. I have never read anything by Poe except The Raven and The Telltale Heart. It sounds like I might like some of his other stories, and will have to give them a try!

  7. I'm glad I'm not the only one tempted to read aloud to myself on occasion! Sometimes I have to remind myself not to start rambling when out in public :oD Now there's a good question to pose: When you're all alone, do you ever read out loud?

  8. I can't recall if I've read this one before. I know I had to read The Telltale Heart and The Fall of the House of Usher in school.

  9. A particular favourite of mine. If I'm in the house I actually *do* read out loud to myself sometimes! LOL

  10. Clover - Creepy-fantastic is a good descriptor for Poe!

    Kelly - Me too. I don't think I've ever read anything by him I didn't care for. Like you, I really do need to read more of his work.

    Molly - I have a book of his short stories too, now that I think about it and yet I'm reading his stories online. LOL

    Suey - I hadn't realized it was made into a movie. I'll have to check it out. I'm really curious to see how it translates to the screen.

    Kathleen - Me too! It's perfect for a stormy night. :-)

  11. Heather - The Raven is one of my favorite poems. I used to have it memorized, but over the years I've forgotten some of it. :-(

    Teacher/Learner - You are definitely not alone. I read to myself now and then--although sometimes I like to think I'm really reading to the dog and cats.

    I find too that reading out loud sometimes helps me focus more when I'm having trouble getting started on a book because of too many outside distractions.

    Charley - I don't think I've read either of the two you mention. I've heard they are among his best though so I should remedy that.

    Naida - Yes! Poe really should be read aloud.

    Nicola - Another out loud reader! Yay!

  12. OK, I need to read Poe. Time to dish out my only copy of his book, RAVEN.

  13. I have to admit, this story completely creeps me out. Poe has a huge connection to Baltimore so we hear a great deal about him every year, but still I've only read a few of his stories.

  14. Loved this one as well. I watched the old movie with Vincent Price last year and was unimpressed. I think it's hard to capture the creepiness of Poe onscreen.

  15. Alice - Yes, please do! I really enjoy his writing. I it takes me back to another time when I read his work.

    Heather J. - It really is a creepy story. He's not an author that's the best to read right before bedtime, that's for sure.

    Stacy - I imagine so. I haven't seen the movie but I am curious, even if it's not nearly as good.


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