The Macabre & Creepy Edgar Allan Poe group discussion

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message 1: by Gary (new)

Gary | 305 comments Mod
We are starting with this story, because..... i have a black cat, named sparky, who is a real joy. so i thought since i am the moderator that this would be one of our two selections for this month.

so, read & i look forward to some lively discussion on these stories.

btw, when we got our cat as a kitten, i wanted to name him RAVEN, but my sons aged 6 and 4 won out, because i am a good dad,and i let them name him,and i have to admit sparky fits him to a "T".

those same sons are now 19,and 17. damn , how times flies!


message 2: by Gary (new)

Gary | 305 comments Mod
The Black Cat. i remember for years i had wanted to read this story. i have a book called 365 AMAZING DAYS FOR CHILDREN. i read it every day in my job,and in january i would read aloud poe's birthday,and how you need to turn the lights down low,and have a candle,and read THE BLACK CAT aloud for his birthday.

finally one year , i did exactly that. you're gonna laugh, but i happened to be all alone that evening,and i just sat down on the floor, with only candles burning,and read the story aloud to myself on poe's birthday. what a creepy, scary, gruesome, story. my own black cat , sparky, curled up against my leg, so he heard it too. it was quite fun!


message 3: by Gary (new)

Gary | 305 comments Mod
now, any comments or discussion on this story? i am ready for it. hit me with your best shot! lol.


message 4: by Stephen (new)

Stephen (stephenT) So far you've given us two stories to start with. Which do you really want? hehehehehe. What is that heart beat I keep hearing under the floor? I'll have to get back to you.........


message 5: by Gary (last edited Aug 17, 2009 06:13AM) (new)

Gary | 305 comments Mod
that's cool, get back to me when you can. we have a whole month to read these stories,and discuss them. will change them in mid sept. remind me if i forget. ha! i go back to work,and it gets really busy. take care,and thanks!


message 6: by Gary (last edited Aug 17, 2009 09:33AM) (new)

Gary | 305 comments Mod
Let me know when you've read this story,and ready to discuss. i just read it this morning in the doctor's office. didn't take me long. i see,and feel different things every time i read this sucker!

Happy Reading!


message 7: by Pat (new)

Pat | 2 comments I'm ready to start reading the stories. It's been a while since I've read either, but I do remember feeling sad about the cat :(
Hope your day at work went well.


message 8: by Sandy (new)

Sandy Guire | 5 comments Whoo hooo! Good choice! Gary, as you know, the cat in this story is the exact opposite my little black cat, Tucker, but I'm still excited about the story. BTW. . . if you still want your very own black cat named Raven, we've got one at the shelter. (yeah, like Sparky would be happy about that)


message 9: by Gary (new)

Gary | 305 comments Mod
MEOW!!!!


message 10: by Gary (new)

Gary | 305 comments Mod
CLAWS OUT,AND EXPOSED. MEOW, MEOW, MEOW, *echo*echo* echo*

is there anybody out there?? how can you have any pudding when you've not had your meat?? *echo* echo*


message 11: by Gary (new)

Gary | 305 comments Mod
http://poecalendar.blogspot.com/

above is the website, with picture,and everything and to give credit to the writer. below is the article as well.
gary



Wednesday, August 19, 2009
The Black Cat: probable events with improbable circumstances
August 19, 1843 saw the first publication of one of Poe's most famous works. The Saturday Evening Post published "The Black Cat" in its issue with that date. In fact, the story was featured right on the front page. The editors noted:
"The Black Cat," by Mr. Poe, is written in that vein of his which no other American writer can imitate, or has, successfully. The accompaniment of probable events with improbable circumstances, so blended with the real that all seems plausible; and the investiture of the whole with a shadowy mythic atmosphere, leaving a strong and ineffaceable impression upon the reader's mind, is an effort of imagination to which few are equal... Cruelty to animals is a sin which deserves a punishment as severe as Mr. Poe has inflicted upon his hero.
"The Black Cat" is one of Poe's most violent works, difficult for many readers because of its blatant animal abuse. However, as I have argued elsewhere, the violence of the story was purposeful as it was intended as a "dark temperance" tale, meant to scare people away from alcohol.

If I can editorialize for a moment, there are a couple of unfortunate aspects of the story which are ultimately not Poe's fault. Its use of alcohol as a predominant theme has only added fuel to the incorrect generalization that all of Poe's works are about alcohol (or, worse, written under the influence of alcohol). Further, it is often paired in middle school or high school classes with "The Tell-Tale Heart" and/or "The Cask of Amontillado," implying all of Poe's works are about murder or concealing corpses.

As much as I love "The Black Cat" and those other horror stories, maybe teachers should consider pairing "The Black Cat" with "X-ing a Paragrab"? Or maybe with "Landor's Cottage" or "Mystification"? Horror is great, but Poe is not a "horror writer" — he is one of the most diverse writers of his generation, and we don't show it often enough.

*The illustration above is by Alphonse Legros, 1860.


message 12: by Stephen (new)

Stephen (stephenT) Horror is great, but Poe is not a "horror writer" — he is one of the most diverse writers of his generation, and we don't show it often enough. I agree with you. Poe was diverse, and his poetry, while dark, was masterful. The French revere Poe like no other American writer.


message 13: by Gary (new)

Gary | 305 comments Mod
now, you realize i didn't write that, right? i wish i did, but the blogger wrote it.


message 14: by Gary (new)

Gary | 305 comments Mod
you should check out his website, which i included post 11. i think you'd find what rob has said to be fascinating.


message 15: by Stephen (new)

Stephen (stephenT) This is just a first impression, okay? Not a final thought, or the proposition of an ultimate theory of Poe, but this story contained that building sense of dread that Poe does with unfailing skill, and seeming ease. The gradual dismantling of the narrator's psyche, and his dementia's particular direction, made the death of his wife inevitable. Poe does that in all his horror stories, build the dread, take a nearly innocent person and dismantle their mind, and then a horrible end which seemed inevitable. Like I said, this isn't to be applied to all his stories, but it can to more than one!


message 16: by Gary (new)

Gary | 305 comments Mod
yes, exactly!


message 17: by Gary (new)

Gary | 305 comments Mod
Anyone finish reading the story? Any discussion? first impressions? last impressions? anyone ? anyone?


message 18: by Sandy (new)

Sandy Guire | 5 comments Well, I felt bad for both of the cats. Then again, you'd expect that from me.

Seriously, I really enjoy Poe's type of horror. I just do not get into the hack & slash/boogey man type of horror. Poe's brand of horror is much more psychological and I feel, more terrifying.

OK Gary. . . there's your discussion. I've done my brain-dead part!

I wonder about the cat. Is the second cat supposed to be a kind of reincarnation of the first one? Some kind of "ghost cat"? Or just a convenient manifestation used to further the plot?


message 19: by Gary (last edited Aug 27, 2009 07:15PM) (new)

Gary | 305 comments Mod
i have always thought it was the original cat come back to life, like PET SEMETERY, or a ghost of that cat, to fuck with him that cut the eye out.


or maybe if you read the post #11, according to rob ,Poe wrote the story to encourage people not to drink,and maybe the main character is paranoid being a drunk,and imagined the cat in the tomb,and kinda did the TELL TALE HEART thing,and showed the cops where the cat is to confess his crime,and it was all his imagination????? thoughts???


message 20: by Stephen (new)

Stephen (stephenT) Imagination does not cause a screeching sound from behind a wall. I think it is another cat, playing off the general superstition about black cats. Also! Cats have often been described or thought to know things, and that works very well for Poe's purposes.

As to any purpose of education about alcohol, Poe made it very clear that literature was meant only to entertain, not to teach. I learned that in an Aesthetics class in college. lol


message 21: by Stephen (new)

Stephen (stephenT) With choice "b", the whole story is just an account of something weird that happened. With "a", it is a cautionary tale, and shows the ultimate triumph of justice, which I find a much more satisfying interpretation!

Brian, I love your input, very perceptive and educated man that you are. I agree about Poe and Lovecraft being more of the creepy variety than the horror variety. I also think that choice A would be more satisfying, however, Poe firmly believed that a didactic purpose of literature was ridiculous.

On the other hand, what an author states as a purpose -- can it always be trusted? I remember a teacher telling me once, "there is no such thing as an innocent narrator." With Poe, could we multiply that statement by 4? hahahaha


message 22: by Gary (new)

Gary | 305 comments Mod
Thanks boys!!!Love your thoughts. Yes, Stephen, Poe was far from being "mr. innocent."

as far as message 22, brian. i believe "a" is exactly what happened,and what poe intended. many times criminals, or murders leave clues, because they want to get caught,and this dude left quite a clue, a very noisy one. yowling and hissing!!


message 23: by Gary (new)

Gary | 305 comments Mod
as far as teaching about alcohol. see this post, and see what this blogger says.....
"The Black Cat" is one of Poe's most violent works, difficult for many readers because of its blatant animal abuse. However, as I have argued elsewhere, the violence of the story was purposeful as it was intended as a "dark temperance" tale, meant to scare people away from alcohol.

webpage this came from...
http://poecalendar.blogspot.com/2009/...



message 25: by Gary (new)

Gary | 305 comments Mod
It's worth justifying Poe's use of violence in this story, because it is so explicit whereas many of Poe's works ("Berenice," for example) merely imply violence without describing them deeply. "The Black Cat" is considered by many (including this blogger) to be a dark temperance tale - a story so horrible it will scare people away from drinking alcohol. The narrator's violence and cruelty is only present when he has been drinking, after all.

Poe himself was a recovering alcoholic. Knowing the problems he had with drinking, he often did his best to avoid alcohol (including one period of 18 months of sobriety, an aspect which English teachers forget to mention to their impressionable students) and, at least once, he joined a temperance society. The fanaticism of these organizations was well-known and it was assumed when Poe joined the Sons of Temperance that he would use his pen for their cause. But, more on that story another time, perhaps.


message 26: by Gary (new)

Gary | 305 comments Mod
this last post is rob velella, the blogger on this website. he wrote it.

http://poecalendar.blogspot.com/


message 27: by Lexi (new)

Lexi Snow (ChicagoBullsfan23) | 4 comments Gary wrote: "as far as teaching about alcohol. see this post, and see what this blogger says.....
"The Black Cat" is one of Poe's most violent works, difficult for many readers because of its blatant animal a..."


I absolutely agree. I have had many "arguments" about Poe's style of writing, and they always use "The Black Cat." They always take this to be too violent and drinking. They would always use this as him trying to be the "devil" around my school.


message 28: by Leeann (new)

Leeann (leeannhoward) | 1 comments The poor cats! I wonder if Poe personally liked cats or if he was expressing some sort of dislike towards them with this story? (is this discussion still going?)


message 29: by Gary (last edited Dec 29, 2010 10:51PM) (new)

Gary | 305 comments Mod
Poe loved cats, dearly,and had several as pets.He seemed to be inspired to write his tales due to people's pets. Like Charles Dickens' pet raven,Grip.
We know what was written caused by Grip, don't we?


message 30: by Gary (new)

Gary | 305 comments Mod
Quoth the Raven...... Nevermore!


message 31: by Werner (new)

Werner Isn't there a pet raven in Barnaby Rudge that was inspired by Grip? Was that what you were thinking of, Gary?


message 32: by Adam (new)

Adam | 6 comments Maybe I'm remembering this wrong, but didn't they find Poe's corpse with his pet cat curled up between his legs?


message 33: by Gary (new)

Gary | 305 comments Mod
Poe was found near death in a gutter in Baltimore,and died hours later in a hospital bed. He wasn't home , so no black cat. Sorry, Adam.


message 34: by Gary (new)

Gary | 305 comments Mod
Werner, Poe was a big fan of Dickens. He had read Barnaby Rudge,and yes, Dickens had a pet raven in that novel,and he also had a pet Raven of his own named Grip. Poe was inspired by it all to write THE RAVEN. They have Grip stuffed, which Dickens did himself, at the bird's death,and it's on display at the Poe Museum in Philadelphia PA.

Here's a couple websites about it.....

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Raven

http://www.ushistory.org/oddities/gri...

So, there you go, buddy!


message 35: by Werner (new)

Werner Thanks for those links, Gary; I checked them out. That's some fascinating information!


message 36: by Gary (new)

Gary | 305 comments Mod
You are most welcome, Werner.Thrilled to share,and enlighten you. Thanks so much for being active on here. We are up to 100 members!!! Did you notice!????

Thanks, my friend!

gary


message 37: by Werner (new)

Werner Gary, that's great news; the last time I checked, earlier this evening, the membership figure was given as 96. I was glad to help with inviting people (and I know at least one of my Goodreads friends did join!).

Truth to tell, I'm not really very active in this group, but that's only because my Internet time is so limited. I'm delighted to contribute whenever and however I can!


message 38: by Gary (new)

Gary | 305 comments Mod
You've been a lot more active, and supportive, then a lot of people on here. Thanks so much for that.

I think we'd be great friends if we lived closer. I find the things you say most interesting,and such. Thanks for that, buddy!


message 39: by Werner (new)

Werner Gary, thanks a bunch! I always appreciate your comments, too. Even though we're half a continent apart, I'm glad that the magic of technology lets us be Goodreads friends! Thanks for inviting me into your circle, and into this group.


message 40: by Gary (new)

Gary | 305 comments Mod
You are most welcome! We have a great discussion going on the Yahoo thread.Anybody join in?


message 41: by Gary (new)

Gary | 305 comments Mod
You are most welcome! We have a great discussion going on the Yahoo 100 members thread.Anybody join in?


message 42: by [deleted user] (new)

Gary wrote: "We are starting with this story, because..... i have a black cat, named sparky, who is a real joy. so i thought since i am the moderator that this would be one of our two selections for this month...."

Oh, my! My husband has a black cat named Lindy and a gold cat named Sparky. He also has a cat named The Queen Mum. She is the grandmother of these other two.


message 43: by Michaela (new)

Michaela | 4 comments I'm always really late to these but, I think the 2nd cat was infact a reincarnation, almost like a second chance for the guy. But, then he is so put off by what he did to the 1st cat, i think he's parinoid about it, which doesn't help with the man's drinking. Also this man in the story could infact be Poe himself, in the sense that he did drink excessively when times got really rough and the cat some what signified that death was alwayas around him during his life time, and that it took so many that he loved. Just a thought though.....


message 44: by K.D. (new)

K.D. Absolutely (oldkd) OMG what is it with the cat and the narrator? Is it true that there are evil spirits in black cats?


message 45: by Gary (last edited Oct 28, 2012 04:24PM) (new)

Gary | 305 comments Mod
My black cat Sparky died this past summer at the age of 17. We got him as a kitten. He was my best buddy, ever! I miss him every day. He was sweet as pie....not evil at all.....but yeah....I think a lot of people do think they are evil...... especially POE, who was a cat lover......


message 46: by Adam (new)

Adam | 6 comments I remember reading somewhere that Poe's dead body was discovered with his live cat curled up with him under the sheet. Is that true?


message 47: by Gary (new)

Gary | 305 comments Mod
I have read that he was found on the street in the gutter, or in a park bench,and taken to the hospital,and died there, asking for Reynolds....so....unless someone brought a cat to him.....not true as far as I know.....


message 49: by Gary (new)


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