Episode 12: The Tell Tale Heart by Edgar Allen Poe

 #Edgar Allen Poe#

Needs no real introduction. He was in some senses the man who began the horror genre. There had been Gothic fiction before but Poe made it macabre and strange. I see some influences or commonalities between him and the French poet Baudelaire with his Flowers of Evil, or the French novelist J K Huysman’s with his studies of Satanism and Decandence. The insanity in Poe is also matched in the Austrian writer Gustav Meyrink. I must read some Meyrink for you, though I’m not aware of any short stories of his.

Tell Tale Heart is a first person story narrated by someone who is at pains to assure us that he is not crazy, though pretty much as soon as he says it, and certainly with a few sentences further said, we know he is.

There is a view that it is the story of a perfect crime, but it seems far from that to me. It seems pretty unhinged. He is never going to get away with this crime. He buries the dismembered body under the planks of the floor. That is going to smell, believe me. Not that I know from personal experience.

I had a bit of a disaster this week. I had recorded the English writer Robert Aickman with his longish Zombie story: Ringing the Changes, but the flipping computer packed in after 15 minutes. An hour later I found out the story hasn’t recorded except the first fifteen minutes.

So I had nothing. I then recorded this one. I know, I think I know, (I sound like the man in the story) that listeners prefer longer stories that are American. This is short, but it is American which is a compromise.

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