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The Pit and the Pendulum

4.16  ·  Rating details ·  53,962 ratings  ·  770 reviews
The Pit and the Pendulum is a short story written by Edgar Allan Poe. The story centres around the torments endured by a prisoner of the Spanish Inquisition. The story is especially effective at inspiring fear in the reader due to its heavy focus on the senses, emphasizing its reality, unlike many of Poe's stories which are aided by the supernatural.
Paperback, Penguin 60s Classics, 56 pages
Published September 1995 by Penguin (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.

Community Reviews

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4.16  · 
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 ·  53,962 ratings  ·  770 reviews

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Jeffrey Keeten
Oct 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: horror
”The entire surface of this metallic enclosure was rudely daubed in all the hideous and repulsive devices to which the charnel superstition of the monks has given rise. The figures of fiends in aspects of menace, with skeleton forms, and other more really fearful images, overspread and disfigured the walls.”

 photo pit-and-pendulum20Harry20Clarke_zps9moy5muo.jpg
Simply superb illustration by Harry Clarke.

Our nameless narrator has been condemned by a panel of black robed, white lipped, stern faced judges. His crime is unknown, but then this is the I
Glenn Russell
Jun 20, 2014 rated it it was amazing

At age twelve I was given my first 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.

Why do such a thing? The story’s torture chamber is not a makeshift construction slapped together; ra
Jun 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A classic of sensational horror, The Pit and the Pendulum is also, for me, one of the Poe stories that most closely resembles (and certainly influences) later writers such as Franz Kafka. Here we have several Kafka-like elements: a judgment pronounced by distant, stern, inhuman judges, with no sense of what crime, if any, may have been committed, and then a devious punishment that gets more devious as time goes on. The narrator is also utterly alone in the world, save the hungry rats, and this l ...more
Oct 31, 2017 rated it really liked it
As the doorbell rings nearly incessantly and the frigid air seeps into my living room, I am all tucked up in a corner of the couch with my fluffy blanket, a glass of The Velvet Devil Merlot, and a book of tales from the master of horror, Edgar Allan Poe. I'm leaving the job of distributing candy to the hubby, while my teen son oversees the execution of his annual Halloween light and music show which grows increasingly elaborate each year. I can't think of a better way to spend the evening!

The Pi
Sean Barrs the Bookdragon

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
Book Review
3+ of 5 stars to The Pit and the Pendulum, a short story written in 1842, by Edgar Allan Poe. As in the tradition of Poe's other Gothic and gory tales, this one takes the fear of death to new heights. Poe tells the story of a man facing punishment during the Spanish Inquisition, a death like no other. At first, he's strapped to a wooden table while a pendulum swings from above with a saw, getting lower and lower until it's nearly about to start ripping into his flesh. But the vict
Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽
Jan 25, 2014 rated it really liked it
The Pit:
and the Pendulum:

3.75 stars. In this 1842 short story by Edgar Allen Poe, an unnamed prisoner details the ghastly and elaborate tortures he endures at the hands of the Spanish Inquisition. He begins with his sentencing by black-robed judges, a nightmarish sequence of images that culminates in his loss of consciousness. When he awakes, he's in a pitch dark room, free to move about, but unable to see a thing. And there his true tortures begin.

Poe, despite a supreme disregard for any histor
Bionic 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
Jun 25, 2014 rated it really liked it
If you see Poe's pit and pendulum as metaphors for the psychological state of being trapped between two bad choices, it makes sense in much less dramatic situations than the one he chose.

Should I stay in an environment that is toxic, or jump into the unknown pit?

Should I sell the rotten stocks or should I keep them?

Should I speak up or stay quiet?

Should I work for another hour or open a bottle of wine?

Should I buy the book or save the money (though that is not really a choice!)?

Should I let mys
May 13, 2014 rated it really liked it
What makes this one a bit more hair-raising is its radical 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 & verbs that describe dread & the absolute horror of an impending death!
Jan 03, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Third Read, 8/2017: The story overwhelms me with such excited emotion. The work reads like a painting with more vivid reality that a digital picture. Out if this emotion I must say. Wow! What unbelievable talent! Why did I wait so long to get into Poe?

"It was hope that prompted the nerve to quiver- the frame to shrink. It was hope- the hope that triumphs in the rack- that whispers to the death- condemned even in the dungeons of the inquisition." My favorite line, perhaps a main theme, and one th

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.

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!

K.D. Absolutely
Apr 08, 2010 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
Jose Moa
Dec 18, 2016 rated it it was amazing
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
Aug 01, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: short-stories
A brilliant example of embodied writing.

“They writhed upon my throat; their cold lips sought my own; I was half stifled by their thronging pressure; disgust, for which the world has no name, swelled my bosom, and chilled, with a heavy clamminess, my heart.”

You feel it first—the fear, the horror. Then your mind follows. The word torture has lost its edge. This is torture. And also, this is why it is important to hope.

Must. Read. More. Poe.
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
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
Katarina Antonia
Aug 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Dark, terrifying and reminds me on a long forgotten nightmare- truly a masterpiece.
May 30, 2011 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
Nov 01, 2018 rated it really liked it
Nobody Expects the Spanish Inquisition!

At least not as late as in the Napoleonic Wars, when it was technically still operating – until Napoleon put a stop to it – but when it would be highly improbable that so much pain would have been taken by the Dominicans to inflict so much pain on one prisoner, especially when nobody was there to witness the plight. Nevertheless, these were thoughts that hardly occurred to me when I read Poe’s tale The Pit and the Pendulum for the first time. I must have be
Oct 28, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This scared the living daylights out of me. I bloody loved it.
Shirley Revill
Jun 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Read this short story some time ago but must admit it is one of my favourite stories.
There is just something about this story that put fear into my very soul when I imagined the scene portrayed.
Absolutely adore Edgar Allen Poe such a talented author and as my mam liked to say he had a way with words you know.
If you haven't yet read this story you are really missing out. Recommended.
Oct 01, 2017 rated it liked it
“...the agony of my soul found vent in one loud, long and final scream of despair.”
Mar 07, 2011 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
A. Dawes
Jul 03, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: short-stories
The Pit and the Pendulum 4* As a reader who enjoys dark fiction, fantasy and historical fiction, this imaginative tale of torture during the Spanish Inquisition really intrigued me. The strong aural imagery throughout takes us almost into the realm of the ghostly too. I feel as though this story had a great influence on gothic horror tales in general. While not as complicated as some other of Poe's tales, it's still a captivating narrative.
Nov 01, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition

Poe's PIT AND PENDULUM wasn't as enthralling as I had stored the story in my head for forty years. At the time when I first read it, torture was quite new to me; it might even be that this was actually the first story on the subject for me. Repulsive - abhorrent - incomprehensible - was my reaction.

In this story it is the Spanish Inquisition, but of course torture has existed long before. And it still exists. And more and more, as it seems to me. Even after two world wars, countless other wars
Jun 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: reviewed
A man sentenced to death is put in a dungeon to meet the destiny set to him by his torturers.
Doomed. Tic toc, tic toc.

As a helpless spectator of the horrifying sight, the tumult of feelings kept unreeling before my eyes.
“all sensations appeared swallowed up in a mad rushing descent as of the soul into Hades. Then silence, and stillness, night were the universe.”

Torn between Fear and Hope (though the latter only seemed to emphasize the dreadfulness of the situation) the agony is palpable.
Oct 18, 2011 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
Oct 11, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Every October, I pull out the Complete Works of Edgar Allen Poe that my mother gave me so I can immerse myself in the ominous fall atmosphere I associate with Halloween. To me, Poe is the original King of Horror (sorry Stephen King). Each time I read a Poe work, I'm caught up in the elegant and intelligent wording that makes these pieces so accessible to modern audiences. His short stories are not just very well written, but the words create a dark and eerie setting that demands that something a ...more
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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
“...the agony of my soul found vent in one loud, long and final scream of despair.” 59 likes
“I call to mind flatness and dampness; and then all is madness - the madness of a memory which busies itself among forbidden things.” 49 likes
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