Edgar Allan

Poe

Tales, Volume II

Erzählungen, Band II

Synchronisation und Ergänzungen © Doppeltext 2012

TITELBLATT

THE PREMATURE BURIAL

THE BLACK CAT

HOP-FROG

LANDOR’S COTTAGE

THE PIT AND THE PENDULUM

THE PURLOINED LETTER

THE MASQUE OF THE RED DEATH

THE SPECTACLES

THE SPHINX

THE SYSTEM OF DOCTOR TARR AND PROFESSOR FETHER

THE TELL-TALE HEART

THE FACTS IN THE CASE OF M. VALDEMAR

IMPRESSUM

THE PREMATURE BURIAL

There are cer­tain themes of which the in­terest is all-ab­sorb­ing,
but which are too en­tirely hor­rible for the pur­poses of le­git­im­ate fic­tion.
These the mere ro­man­ti­cist must es­chew, if he do not wish to of­fend, or to dis­gust.
They are with pro­pri­ety handled, only when the sever­ity and majesty of truth sanc­ti­fy and sus­tain them.
We thrill, for ex­ample, with the most in­tense of “pleas­ur­able pain,” over the ac­counts of the Pas­sage of the Ber­es­ina,
of the Earth­quake at Lis­bon, of the Plague at Lon­don, of the Mas­sacre of St. Bartho­lomew,
or of the stifling of the hun­dred and twenty-three pris­on­ers in the Black Hole at Cal­cutta.
But, in these ac­counts, it is the fact — it is the real­ity — it is the his­tory which ex­cites.
As in­ven­tions, we should re­gard them with simple ab­hor­rence.
I have men­tioned some few of the more prom­in­ent and au­gust calam­it­ies on re­cord;
but, in these, it is the ex­tent, not less than the char­ac­ter of the calam­ity, which so vividly im­presses the fancy.
I need not re­mind the read­er that, from the long
and weird cata­logue of hu­man miser­ies, I might have se­lec­ted many in­di­vidu­al in­stances more re­plete with es­sen­tial suf­fer­ing than any of these vast gen­er­al­it­ies of dis­aster.
The true wretched­ness, in­deed — the ul­ti­mate wo — is par­tic­u­lar, not dif­fuse.
That the ghastly ex­tremes of agony are en­dured by man the unit, and nev­er by man the mass — for this let us thank a mer­ci­ful God!
To be bur­ied while alive is, bey­ond ques­tion, the most ter­rif­ic of these ex­tremes which has ever fallen to the lot of mere mor­tal­ity.
That it has fre­quently, very fre­quently, so fallen will scarcely be denied by those who think.
The bound­ar­ies which di­vide Life from Death, are at best shad­owy and vague.
Who shall say where the one ends, and where the oth­er be­gins? We know that there are dis­eases in which oc­cur total ces­sa­tions of all the ap­par­ent func­tions of vi­tal­ity,
and yet in which these ces­sa­tions are merely sus­pen­sions, prop­erly so called. They are only tem­por­ary pauses in the in­com­pre­hens­ible mech­an­ism.
A cer­tain peri­od elapses, and some un­seen mys­ter­i­ous prin­ciple again sets in mo­tion the ma­gic pin­ions and the wiz­ard wheels.
The sil­ver cord was not for ever loosed, nor the golden bowl ir­re­par­ably broken. But where, mean time, was the soul?

Edgar Allan Poe
Tales, Volume II / Erzählungen, Band II
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