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The Pit and the Pendulum

4.15  ·  Rating Details ·  46,131 Ratings  ·  556 Reviews
6,038 words (≈ 24 minutes)

The Pit and the Pendulum" is a short story written by Edgar Allan Poe and first published in 1842. The story is about the torments endured by a prisoner of the Spanish Inquisition, though Poe skews historical facts. The narrator of the story is deemed guilty for an unnamed crime and put into a completely dark room. He passes out while trying to de
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Nook, 0 pages
Published February 16th 2011 by Platinum Editions (first published 1842)
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Natalie If you love Poe, I'm sure you'll love this one. It seems to be one of his most popular.
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Stephanie
Horrifying classic short story by Poe!

Updated 10/2016 (added review)--- This was a festive Halloween reread for me, as I've probably read The Pit and the Pendulum 5 times over the years. For the first time in 2016, I listened to the audio version and greatly enjoyed.

Published in 1842, this isn't a ghost story, but rather one driven by a sense of fear that continues to build. The unnamed narrator is a prisoner who has recently been found guilty (of what we don't know) during the Spanish Inquisit
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Bookdragon Sean
WHAT DO YOU MEAN MR POE?!!!?

Time conquers all; it is an inescapable fate for all men: it cannot be defeated or avoided. It’s a powerful, unshakable, enemy and a recurring theme across many of Poe’s stories. I’ve seen it a few times now. This time it is a tormenter and a reminder of the incoming doom in the dark pit that is death. This is represented by the pendulum, sweeping like a minute hand, getting faster and faster as it approaches the narrator; it symbolises that death will be the end of
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Glenn Russell
Jun 20, 2014 Glenn Russell rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
At age 12 I was given my introduction to the world of literature by my mother who read me Poe’s The Pit and the Pendulum. I can still vividly recollect living through the horrors of the chamber with the unnamed narrator, wondering why Christian monks would construct such a room and why Christian monks would inflict such torture. I still wrestle with a number of the story’s themes.

Sadism
Why do such a thing? The story’s torture chamber is not a makeshift construction slapped together; rather, with
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Jean
The Pit and the Pendulum (published in 1842) is one of Poe's most famous tales of horror. It does not have a supernatural element, but relies on evoking fear in the reader because of its heavy emphasis on sensations, (view spoiler) It packs a punch precisely because it it feels so rooted in reality, rather than incorporating anything supernatural.

The story
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Fabian
May 13, 2014 Fabian rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What makes this one a bit more hair-raising is its two-point climax curve. The guy nearly dies at the pit, then nearly dies at the pendulum. SAT words galore as well as the best known anecdote of death at the Inquisition, at least for me, makes it easily an essential read. Just for horror writers: Here's a wealth of adjectives and verbs that describe dread and the absolute horror of impending death!
K.D. Absolutely
Apr 08, 2010 K.D. Absolutely rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to K.D. by: 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die (2006-2012)
I used to hear this short story from my history teacher in high school, Mr. Virgilio Amolar. i am not sure what was its relationship with "New Jerusalem", "Urbana and Feliza" and "Lemuria" but he mentioned all of these during our Philippine History class when I was 15. Now that I am old and starting to gray, I think Mr. Amolar is a crazy teacher who uttered all of this in our history class just to have something to say. Maybe he was fascinated by all of these.

The Pit and the Pendulum is a very s
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Bettie☯


Opening: I WAS SICK --- SICK UNTO death with that long agony; and when they at length unbound me, I was permitted to sit, I felt that my senses were leaving me.

Carol
The sentence of death with torturous fear.......

"I panted! I gasped for breath! Oh most unrelenting! Oh most demoniac of men! Oh horror! Oh! Any horror, but this!"

This short POE horror classic, THE PIT AND THE PENDULUM is a first time read for me and it did not disappoint! The ending truly surprised me. Loved it!

Erin ☕ *Proud Book Hoarder*
3.5 stars

In Masque of the Red Death, Poe excelled at dread through a pronounced description of setting. Here, setting is present but it's mainly dread through the creative viewpoint of the man's internal monologue and desperation.

“I call to mind flatness and dampness; and then all is madness - the madness of a memory which busies itself among forbidden things.”

Emotion is high and strong throughout during the terrible ordeal - The Inquisition has taken place, the man has been sentenced, and he
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Fernando
Mar 19, 2015 Fernando rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Este cuento de Poe me fascina, porque al igual que con El Entierro Prematuro, nos posiciona en el mismo lugar que el narrador. Son cuentos desesperantes, asfixiantes, nos hacen sentir incómodos, consustanciarnos con la desgracia de quien lo padece y queriendo leer rápidamente las líneas del cuento para salir a respirar. O no...
Mia (Parentheses Enthusiast)
"To the victims of its tyranny, there was the choice of death with its direst physical agonies, or death with its most hideous moral horrors. I had been reserved for the latter. By long suffering my nerves had been unstrung, until I trembled at the sound of my own voice, and had become in every respect a fitting subject for the species of torture which awaited me."

Really good, suspenseful little story, told with Poe's deft touch of the macabre. Unlike most of Poe's other stories, though, this on
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Lou
May 30, 2011 Lou rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Upon waking from lethargy or sleep he plunges our protagonist into total darkness a dark chamber of death and torture. Rats and a pendulum of terror are his immediate horrors as the swing of death of the pendulum lowers and increases in speed the beads of sweat upon the characters forehead increase in the terror he is experiencing. A masterpiece of writing from Edgar Allan Poe, the creator of the dark tale and splendid writing. He really places you in the moment and you feel the air of dread and ...more
Jose Moa
Dec 18, 2016 Jose Moa rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, teror
Putting aside the histhoric context of the tale that is a accesory frame for the picture,the narration, we pass to review.

The tale is one of the greatest romantic horror tales,told in first person by a condemned to death by the Toledo Inquisition, with the great prose of Poe.
Is a tale about subjetive pass of time,about the subjetive terrorific reality in a sensorial deprived situation,a nightmarish voyage to the unknown next torture, and told in a sort of conscious stream of hopeles fear and ter
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Brian
My second read, since my first read consisted of... Blah blah blah...Ooh, shiny metal going to cut!...blah blah blah...hot! hot!...blah! Blah!...surprise ending.

This time round I heard every word. Poe had extraordinary intelligence and writing ability. He can get in your mind and scare the gremlins out. The story takes the reader through a first person, scene by scene account of a torture chamber. You will hear the swing of the pendulum coming for you, little by little, and know it will slice yo
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Leonard
Mar 07, 2011 Leonard rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Waking up in darkness, fearing a live burial; groping in the darkness almost falling into a pit; bound to a framework under a swinging pendulum while rats rush for their midnight snack; sizzling iron walls squeezing together, but not to cook hamburgers. These could be scenes from Indiana Jones and the Dungeons of Toledo. And yet, The Pit and the Pendulum is classic Poe: heart throbbing, adrenaline rushing, spine tinkling and hair raising suspense and terror. The story triumphs not only through i ...more
Susan
A classic from Poe, not my favorite as there was no connection to the character beyond his ability to think rationally and the tone of his fear. The Who, What and Why were not covered enough for me to care, however, still creepy.
Bonnie
Oct 18, 2011 Bonnie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Bonnie by: 1001 Books to Read Before You Die
’Arousing from the most profound of slumbers, we break the gossamer web of some dream.’

Another short story by Edgar Allan Poe that tells of a man that wakes in darkness to be judged and given a death sentence. He loses consciousness and falls into somewhat of a slumber, where he is still aware, but… not.

’The blackness of eternal night encompassed me. I struggled for breath. The intensity of the darkness seemed to oppress and stifle me. The atmosphere was intolerably close.’

Thinking that the sen
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molly ♛
Nov 01, 2016 molly ♛ rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: etc-books
hella freaky, read this for an gothic horror English task at school.
Safae
Nov 06, 2011 Safae rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 1001, english
It felt exactly like when I'm watching one of Saw movies, amazing, and somehow this book seemed much easier to me than the fall of the house of usher.
The beginning of the book, was a challenge for me, one of my worst nightmares is to be underground in some small hole, so reading about someone imprisoned in what at first felt like a tomb proved itself to be very challenging .
Then with the proceeding of the story I was more at ease, now that he found that his prison wasn't that small, but isn't th
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Graham Worthington
Edgar Allan Poe, born in Boston, Massachusetts on January 19, 1809, died October 7, 1849.

What is it that makes an author famous? I don't mean famous in the sense a news article reports that "Jack Greylea's novels sold 15 million copies last year," but in the sense that he is thought of as being profound, and seminal. That he is quoted, and scholars analyse his works, and he is looked upon as being the original voice of his style, or the font from which many imitators have drawn inspiration.

Edg
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Ruth
May 22, 2012 Ruth rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 1001
Never read much of Poe before. Just didn't get it. However, on a recommendation I dug up my copy and started in on it. The first two pages were an interesting experience -- I found myself reading and basically taking it in but also daydreaming about something completely different at the same time. I almost stopped right there, I mean, if it can't hold my attention for two pages....Then I hit the lines "I dreaded the first glance at objects around me. It was not that I feared to look upon things ...more
Christy
Apart from The Tell-Tale Heart that I read for class in junior high; this was the first Poe that I ever really read.....and I was immediately in love! His language was the most beautiful that I had ever come across. I was so entranced by the way he used words that the horrific depiction wasn't quite coming through as I sat there fascinated with the way he could string words into a sentence like pearls onto a chain. But then, I began to get queazy, forgetting to take a breath....it was a beautifu ...more
Travelling Sunny
Apr 12, 2012 Travelling Sunny rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 1305-read
Poe is totally the master of dread. If I had been this guy, I would have died of a heart attack long before the actual pendulum. Just the thought of being entombed would have done me in!

This reminds me of those Saw movies - how far would you go to save yourself?

There were no supernatural elements to this story, and there was never really an introduction to the "bad guy." (It was the Spanish Inquisition, I think, but they never actually play a part in this short story.) So, I didn't like it as mu
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Raeden Zen
Apr 08, 2013 Raeden Zen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
“Was I left to perish of starvation in this subterranean world of darkness; or what fate, perhaps even more fearful awaited me?”

This is one of my favorite short stories and I'm glad I re-read it. It's terrifying and masterfully written with twists and turns only a wizard like Poe could conjure in such limited space.

“It was hope that prompted the nerve to quiver—the frame to shrink. It was hope—the hope that triumphs on the rack—that whispers to the death-condemned even in the dungeons of the In
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Julia
Jan 28, 2017 Julia rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017
3.25 out of 5 stars

Not his best in my opinion but still decent.
Brooklyn Tayla
Definitely suspenseful and very eerie. I was on the edge of my seat throughout this short.
Andrea
Jan 11, 2008 Andrea rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Andrea by: Miriam Walker
Look up the word 'macabre' in the dictionary and you (should) find Edgar Allan Poe. This book of shorts is a delightful read... in a sort of sick and twisted way.
Bogdan Liviu
Jan 23, 2013 Bogdan Liviu rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
O lectură hipnotizantă cu ajutorul căreia cititorul reușește să devină personajul principal, fiind prezent printr-un crescendo agonizant al bătăilor inimii, în acel scenariu absolut odios narat impecabil de Edgar Allan Poe.
„Ce dulce trebuie să fie odihna în mormânt!"

"Leşinasem. Totuşi nu vreau să spun că-mi pierdusem cu desăvârşire conştiinţa. Nu încercam să definesc sau măcar să descriu ce-mi mai rămăsese din ea; dar nu era cu totul pierdută. Nu! Nici în somnul cel mai adânc! Nu! Nici în delir!
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Leonard
Mar 07, 2011 Leonard rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

description

Waking up in darkness, fearing a live burial; groping in the darkness almost falling into a pit; bound to a framework under a swinging pendulum while rats rush for their midnight snack; sizzling iron walls squeezing together, but not to cook hamburgers. These could be scenes from Indiana Jones and the Dungeons of Toledo. And yet, The Pit and the Pendulum is classic Poe: heart throbbing, adrenaline rushing, spine tinkling and hair raising suspense and terror. The story triumphs not only through i
...more
Ken Moten
So now for the last of my series (read 4) of reviews on Edgar Allan Poe.

So now we are given in this story not a supernatural evil as in "House of Usher", nor is it the evil of an individual as in "The Cask of Amontillado" or "The TaleTell Heart" this time it is a faceless organization (the Spanish Inquisition and by proxy the Catholic Church). This book I think was the easiest and most straight forward to understand and in turn the least suspenseful.

Now I don't mean to say there is no drama or
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« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
  • The Fall of the House of Usher & Other Stories
  • The Rats in the Walls
  • A Modest Proposal and Other Satirical Works
  • Born in Exile
  • The Minister's Black Veil
  • Bunner Sisters
  • Ormond
  • The Monastery
  • The Nose
  • The Real Charlotte
  • Castle Richmond
  • The Musgrave Ritual (The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes, #5)
  • The Monkey's Paw and Other Tales of Mystery and Macabre
  • The Lottery
  • An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge
  • The Judge's House
  • The Rocking Horse Winner (Travelman Classics)
  • Albigenses
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The name Poe brings to mind images of murderers and madmen, premature burials, and mysterious women who return from the dead. His works have been in print since 1827 and include such literary classics as The Tell-Tale Heart, The Raven, and The Fall of the House of Usher. This versatile writer’s oeuvre includes short stories, poetry, a novel, a textbook, a book of scientific theory, and hundreds of ...more
More about Edgar Allan Poe...

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“...the agony of my soul found vent in one loud, long and final scream of despair.” 51 likes
“I call to mind flatness and dampness; and then all is madness - the madness of a memory which busies itself among forbidden things.” 42 likes
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