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The Masque of the Red Death

4.08  ·  Rating details ·  28,281 ratings  ·  1,208 reviews
The story follows Prince Prospero's attempts to avoid a dangerous plague known as the Red Death by hiding in his abbey. He, along with many other wealthy nobles, has a masquerade ball within seven rooms of his abbey, each decorated with a different color.

In the midst of their revelry, a mysterious figure disguised as a Red Death victim enters and makes his way through eac
Paperback, 76 pages
Published April 28th 2004 by BookSurge Classics (first published May 1842)
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Average rating 4.08  · 
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 ·  28,281 ratings  ·  1,208 reviews

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Glenn Russell
Feb 09, 2014 rated it it was amazing

I’ve always sensed a strong connection to Poe’s The Masque of the Red Death, perhaps because I've both played and listen to loads of medieval music, perhaps because I enjoy the art and history and philosophy of that period, or, perhaps because I’ve always been drawn to literature dealing with issues of life and death. Whatever the reason, I love this tale. Here are my reflections on several themes:

The tale’s Red Death sounds like the Black Death of 1349 where a family member could be
Mar 16, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: english, classic
And Darkness and Decay and the Red Death held illimitable dominion over all.

I enjoy Edgar Allan Poe so much; however, I still did not manage to get through all of his short stories, but I'll be definitely working on correcting that oversight.

This one was short, straight to the point. It won't go between my favourite Poe's short stories but yet, it was rather chilling.

With such precautions the courtiers might bid defiance to contagion. The external world could take care of itself. In the meanti
Jun 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: gothic
Fascinating and lurid allegory about a group of people who, on the invitation of "Prince Prospero," lock themselves within a "castellated abbey" to escape the Red Death. The inhabitants of the abbey are provided "all the appliances of pleasure," and boy do they know how to party: "there were buffoons, there were improvisatori, there were ballet-dancers, there were musicians, there was Beauty, there was wine." It all culminates in a huge masked ball held in several colorful and gaudy chambers: "T ...more
Jun 18, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Kurt Vonnegut, Ray Bradbury, HP Lovecraft and Edgar Allan Poe are playing a round of golf in the Great Hereafter and discussing Poe’s short work The Masque of the Red Death.

Vonnegut: Damn! Hooked it.

Lovecraft: You’ve been pulling it left all day, you raised your head on the swing.

Bradbury: I saw you move your front foot.

Poe: You need to keep your arm straighter.

Vonnegut: OK! Damn it. Ed, what in the hell made you write the Red Death story?

Bradbury: Masque of the Red Death, one of my favorites, t
Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽

I don't know how I overlooked "The Masque of the Red Death" when I was going through my Poe phase a while back, but someone's review reminded me of it (Thanks, random Goodreads friend!). So I found a copy of it online here and gave it another read to refresh my memory.

This story is both less and more than I recalled. It's long on setting and mood and short on plot. The plot could probably be described in about two sentences. Let's give it a try:
A deadly plague is ravaging the land, and the unf
Sean Barrs
Death waits for no man. Time can’t stop the inevitable; it can only delay it. This tale, perhaps, embodies the idea that death is an unavoidable end for all; it is one that we all must embrace because it simply cannot be escaped. Time will run out for everyone eventually.

And now was acknowledged the presence of Red Death. He had come like a thief in the night. And one by one dropped the revellers in the blood-bedewed halls of their revel, and died each in his despairing posture of his fall.

Bionic Jean
The Masque of the Red Death, written in 1842 by Edgar Allan Poe, is a surprisingly short story, which is generally regarded to be allegorical. In it, Prince Prospero is so terrified of the pestilential "Red Death", that he walls himself and a thousand wealthy nobles up in his castellated abbey, where they have a masquerade ball, moving from room to room. Obviously they are going to come to a sticky end. At the time of writing Poe's wife was suffering from tuberculosis, and there was an epidemic ...more
Oct 09, 2020 rated it it was amazing
The timeless lesson taught to us through Edgar Allan Poe's 'The Masque of the Red Death' is: don't do any partying when there is a fucking virus outbreak going on!
Moha Dem
Mar 03, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: short, english-novels
Even if this is a short story, Edgar Allan Poe knew how to make a piece of art out of it ... when he was like describing scenes, I felt like am already in front of that castle he was talking about ... I should read it in french too i guess
Erin *Proud Book Hoarder*
Feb 03, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 5-star, reviewed
In one of my Literature textbooks, this is the story the book chose to best set the example of how important setting can be to a story.

Poe's incredible talent in setting mood through the most miniscule of details is powerful as he establishes dread, irony, and a hefty infusion of Gothic feel by detailing the colors of a series of rooms and what they represent to the audience and characters. The symbolism of the clock is musical and alluring; the ominous clang and the dancers reactions, with its
Aishu Rehman
This is a typical type Poe short story in terms of its dark, gloomy, gothic atmosphere and also its obscurity since the story requires deep-analysis and interpretation. However, it is different from others due to its didactic message: Death is inevitable, no matter what you do and no matter who you are, you cannot escape it just like the Prince Prospero - an allusion to the Tempest.
Paul  Perry
Actually came up on my podcast feed, on the Memory Palace, read by Nate DiMeo.

I'd meant to post about it anyway as the best comment on the White House superspreader event was made by blogger and podcaster Driftglass on the Professional Left podcast:

"The Masque of the Red Death just gets funnier EVERY SINGLE TIME! (with thanks to Beetlejuice)"
Edgar Allan Poe is one of my favorite authors. The Masque of the Red Death was very well written. I love the way Poe uses words to describe the atmosphere of the story. So tantalizing. Not his best short story in my opinion but worth reading. ...more
Edgar Allan Poe and Halloween go hand in hand.

It has been many years since I first read this story but it never ceases to chill. We cannot run away or hide from death. It comes for us all.
I'm loving Poe so far. I'm surprised I haven't been given recommendation for him so far but I guess not many of my GR friends have read his work.

Sanjay Gautam
Apr 23, 2020 rated it really liked it
I think one should read this short story amid this Corona crisis.
Sԋҽʅʅყ ƚԋҽ Wҽιɾԃ αɳԃ Wαɳԃҽɾιɳɠ Wαɾɾισɾ
I liked this one a lot more than The Tell-Tale Heart. The Red Death is a fictional plague that may or may not have been based on consumption/tuberculosis. Prince Prospero is a dreadful man who is vulgar with his wealth while his country suffers around him. He hosts a huge ball and of course, meets a grisly demise.

A lot of time was spent, it seemed, on describing the various rooms, which each had a color and theme. The revelers were all too happy to join him in celebration until things start to g
May 31, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Edgar Allan Poe’s highly symbolic short story about death and the futility of attempting to avoid it, is one of the most read short stories of all time. In these days of pestilence abroad, it made for a reminder that things could be worse, but also that time marches regardless of circumstance and that death is to come for all of us, and often when least expected.
Arthur Graham
Sep 05, 2019 rated it really liked it
When I think of Gothic literature, Edgar Allen Poe is sure to come to mind. Although it is a short story, the Masque of the Red Death is chilling. Poe sets up a very atmospheric read with the colorful and indulgent Prince Prospero and the mysterious guest who is both frightening and foreboding. I think the Masque of the Red Death is a fine example of why Poe's works are considered classics.
Nov 07, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Re-Read, 11/5/17:
Maybe my favorite Poe. He has this style, that makes you feel this rush and think, dang, that's cool! I remember feeling more of that in the first read. This time, I don't know if perspectives changed or if I understood the objectivity of the piece better, but I felt a visceral terror flowing through my body from my gut that ended in an explosion of thrill and high, and bodily reactions of goosebumps and chill-bumps in the end. This Red Death guy - not someone I'd like to meet
Oct 24, 2015 rated it liked it
I love the premise- fearing a horrible sickness that has seized his lands, a hedonistic prince locks himself and hundreds of his friends away in a castle, with an enormous wall running the length of it so nothing can get in or out. But soon the prince's fanciful denial is shattered in a very... strange way.

Basically, what my dislike of this comes down to is the length. It's only four pages, which (for me at least) simply is not enough time to become invested in a story and care about its ending.
Emm C²
Aug 24, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Prince Prospero
Recommended to Emm C² by: the Red Death
My personal favorite horror short, pretty much ever.
I don't think anyone will have gotten the full Poe Experience without reading Masque at some point.
Lavish in detail and honestly, more powerful than a lot of full-length novels I've read. I wish there were a way to describe it without feeling like I'm squashing the whole point of reading it.
Rachel Aranda
Jul 09, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ebooks, owned
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jul 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was a re-read of one of my favourite Poe stories. And I loved it like usual.
Mar 28, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Not even within the deep seclusion and iron gate security of Prince Prospero's Abbey (view spoiler)

Am loving reading POE!

Anusha Narasimhan
Mar 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: short-stories
I guess the message is to embrace social distancing and not throw parties during epidemics/pandemics. Also, you can't assume that you are somehow immune and disregard an infectious disease as "other people's problem" because the Red Death (or the coronavirus) does not discriminate.

Perhaps if Poe wrote this story today, there may be some hint at washing hands regularly, not hoarding hand sanitizers and not fighting over toilet paper.

Bumping up the rating to 5 stars in light of recent events.
Kim Friant
May 22, 2012 rated it it was amazing
5 Stars—A classic tale of hubris and irony! Also one of those stories that teachers love to dissect and analyze. I remember reading it back in school and trying to figure out the meaning behind all the colors of the rooms ... still don’t know, but I don’t think I’m missing much! However this is a chilling tale that has crazy imagery that gives me goosebumps! You can’t run from death, so don’t even try!
Katarina Antonia
Aug 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing
The most horrifying Poe´s tale I´ve ever read. Much symbolism, grotesque and death, of course.
I still consider this to be the finest thing Edgar Allan Poe ever wrote. It is his greatest work in my opinion. Almost every line in it is beautiful in some way and the overall effect is considerable. I first read it back in school, but I was rereading it on audiobook, read by Basil Rathbone. Let me tell you, he does a good job. All the hairs on the back of my neck stood up. And it has that haunting, echoing last line "And Darkness and Decay and the Red Death held illimitable dominion over all".
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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

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