Author Topic: PC Miniature 56: The Masque Of The Red Death  (Read 8032 times)

Heradel

  • Bill Peters, EP Assistant
  • Hipparch
  • ******
  • Posts: 2938
  • Part-Time Psychopomp.
on: October 30, 2010, 02:34:24 AM
PodCastle Miniature 56: The Masque Of The Red Death

by Edgar Allan Poe

Read by Eric Luke (of the Extruding America podcast)

THE “Red Death” had long devastated the country. No pestilence had ever been so fatal, or so hideous. Blood was its Avatar and its seal — the redness and the horror of blood. There were sharp pains, and sudden dizziness, and then profuse bleeding at the pores, with dissolution. The scarlet stains upon the body and especially upon the face of the victim, were the pest ban which shut him out from the aid and from the sympathy of his fellow-men. And the whole seizure, progress and termination of the disease, were the incidents of half an hour.

But the Prince Prospero was happy and dauntless and sagacious. When his dominions were half depopulated, he summoned to his presence a thousand hale and light-hearted friends from among the knights and dames of his court, and with these retired to the deep seclusion of one of his castellated abbeys. This was an extensive and magnificent structure, the creation of the prince’s own eccentric yet august taste. A strong and lofty wall girdled it in. This wall had gates of iron. The courtiers, having entered, brought furnaces and massy hammers and welded the bolts. They resolved to leave means neither of ingress or egress to the sudden impulses of despair or of frenzy from within. The abbey was amply provisioned. With such precautions the courtiers might bid defiance to contagion. The external world could take care of itself. In the meantime it was folly to grieve, or to think. The prince had provided all the appliances of pleasure. There were buffoons, there were improvisatori, there were ballet-dancers, there were musicians, there was Beauty, there was wine. All these and security were within. Without was the “Red Death.”

It was toward the close of the fifth or sixth month of his seclusion, and while the pestilence raged most furiously abroad, that the Prince Prospero entertained his thousand friends at a masked ball of the most unusual magnificence.

Rated PG: Contains, um, Death!

I Twitter. I also occasionally blog on the Escape Pod blog, which if you're here you shouldn't have much trouble finding.


Swamp

  • Hipparch
  • ******
  • Posts: 2230
    • Journey Into... podcast
Reply #1 on: October 30, 2010, 03:13:47 AM
 ;D NICE! ;D

Facehuggers don't have heads!

Come with me and Journey Into... another fun podcast


Unblinking

  • Sir Postsalot
  • Hipparch
  • ******
  • Posts: 8729
    • Diabolical Plots
Reply #2 on: October 30, 2010, 04:05:20 AM
I haven't listened yet, so I'll be back with a more complete comment later.

This is my favorite Poe story of all.  And that's saying a lot, because I really like Poe!  I'm pretty sure that this is the story that we read in English class that really convinced me that classic literature doesn't have to suck.



stePH

  • Actually has enough cowbell.
  • Hipparch
  • ******
  • Posts: 3906
  • Cool story, bro!
    • Thetatr0n on SoundCloud
Reply #3 on: October 30, 2010, 06:20:11 PM
Rated PG: Contains, um, Death!

...and, um, masques.  :P

"Nerdcore is like playing Halo while getting a blow-job from Hello Kitty."
-- some guy interviewed in Nerdcore Rising


Sandikal

  • Matross
  • ****
  • Posts: 287
Reply #4 on: October 30, 2010, 10:24:27 PM
"The Tell-Tale Heart" will always be my favorite Poe story, but this one is up there.  Since this is such a well-known story, I'll just comment on the narration.  I think the narrator did a fabulous job.  He made the story really comprehensible.  That's sometimes hard to do with Poe.



eytanz

  • Moderator
  • *****
  • Posts: 6109
Reply #5 on: October 31, 2010, 01:34:59 PM
Rated PG: Contains, um, Death!

...and, um, masques.  :P

And communists!

Oh wait, that's the wrong type of "red". :P



Unblinking

  • Sir Postsalot
  • Hipparch
  • ******
  • Posts: 8729
    • Diabolical Plots
Reply #6 on: November 01, 2010, 01:42:27 PM
Loved it, great reading to match the story. 

Since I already knew what happened and most of the details, I was looking for alternative interpretations.  Throughout most of it this time I was thinking that the prince was actually the one who would be wearing the mask, or at least to have arranged it, as an alternate interpretation to the Red Death actually showing up, but that turned out to be untrue on several counts. 

To me, even more interesting than the arrival of the Red Death, is the design of the 7th room.  I get that he's eccentric in his designs, but that seems to go beyond eccentric to design a room that you know no one is going to have the guts to hang out in, and the clock that unnerves everyone who hears it.  I like how the clock seemed to intensify the revelry after its chiming, as if to spit in the face of death, and the end shows just how futile ignoring death will turn out to be, for everyone.




Loz

  • Lochage
  • *****
  • Posts: 370
    • Blah Flowers
Reply #7 on: November 02, 2010, 06:35:07 PM
Brilliant story and a great reading, but then I could listen to Eric read the shipping forecast...



ElectricPaladin

  • Hipparch
  • ******
  • Posts: 1005
  • Holy Robot
    • Burning Zeppelin Experience
Reply #8 on: November 02, 2010, 08:23:08 PM
Classic, creepy, and delightfully morbid. I always enjoyed the vaguely populist interpretation that the prince's real sin was attempting to escape the plague with his rich friends by leaving his people to die; that maybe if he'd stayed with his nation and attempted to guide them through the crisis he would have been spared, or at least died with honor and integrity. There's no textual support for this, of course, but I'm commie enough to enjoy the thought.

Captain of the Burning Zeppelin Experience.

Help my kids get the educational supplies they need at my Donor's Choose page.


Loof

  • Extern
  • *
  • Posts: 8
Reply #9 on: November 02, 2010, 08:47:52 PM
This was fantastic! I'm a big fan of Poe, and I was really pleased with the reading here.
Thanks Podcastle!



Unblinking

  • Sir Postsalot
  • Hipparch
  • ******
  • Posts: 8729
    • Diabolical Plots
Reply #10 on: November 03, 2010, 01:34:02 PM
Classic, creepy, and delightfully morbid. I always enjoyed the vaguely populist interpretation that the prince's real sin was attempting to escape the plague with his rich friends by leaving his people to die; that maybe if he'd stayed with his nation and attempted to guide them through the crisis he would have been spared, or at least died with honor and integrity. There's no textual support for this, of course, but I'm commie enough to enjoy the thought.

He probably would've died either way, but like you said, dying with "honor and integrity" for some definitions of those words, would've been much more likely instead of abandoning his populace to fend for themselves.



Scattercat

  • Caution:
  • Hipparch
  • ******
  • Posts: 4904
  • Amateur wordsmith
    • Mirrorshards
Reply #11 on: November 03, 2010, 05:30:37 PM
Indeed, the revelers withdraw to a secluded place and try to ignore the reality around them, but even in the very heart of their self-absorption, they can't escape the knowledge of their own mortality, and death follows them regardless.  You can't hide your head in the sand, basically.  Or you can, but it doesn't help.

Whether it would have been better for the prince to try and lead his people is probably a matter of personal taste.  I imagine Poe, bastard cynic that he was, wouldn't have seen much difference, but it would certainly have made me warm to the prince a little better.



birdless

  • Lochage
  • *****
  • Posts: 581
  • Five is right out.
Reply #12 on: November 04, 2010, 07:32:44 PM
I'm sure i've probably read this at some point in my scholastic career, but i certainly didn't remember it. What a beautifully written piece of prose! But, well, it IS Poe, after all, hunh? So no surprises there, but the reading was extraordinary! Hats off to the narrator.



zoanon

  • Peltast
  • ***
  • Posts: 138
Reply #13 on: November 15, 2010, 06:23:14 AM
red death is absolutely my favourite Poe story! I was so happy when this turned up on my itunes.
when I was small I used to have a book of illustrated Poe stories, and the Illustration of the red death in all his glory was enough to give me nightmares for weeks!  *sigh* happy days :P



Unblinking

  • Sir Postsalot
  • Hipparch
  • ******
  • Posts: 8729
    • Diabolical Plots
Reply #14 on: November 15, 2010, 03:10:25 PM
red death is absolutely my favourite Poe story! I was so happy when this turned up on my itunes.
when I was small I used to have a book of illustrated Poe stories, and the Illustration of the red death in all his glory was enough to give me nightmares for weeks!  *sigh* happy days :P


ooh, I've never seen it illustrated, that would be awesome!  Especially with the backdrop of the 7th room! 



Unblinking

  • Sir Postsalot
  • Hipparch
  • ******
  • Posts: 8729
    • Diabolical Plots
Reply #15 on: November 15, 2010, 03:13:14 PM
On a completely different sidenote, the fact that each room was illuminated through the color panes makes fashion at the party very difficult:

1.  It says that the furnishings in each room are entirely one color, but the light coming into the room is also filtered by that color, so wouldn't the result be rather uninteresting, sort of a white color?  Like if you wear orange glasses, orange looks mostly white compared to other colors.
2.  If you were attending the party, it would be very difficult to decide what to wear to be fashionable (which I imagine these lords and ladies would be very concerned about), because each room has a different rainbow color for the lighting--you'd look drastically different in every room.



That Hirschman Guy

  • Palmer
  • **
  • Posts: 22
Reply #16 on: November 28, 2010, 04:21:19 AM
This was a GREAT reading.

As for Mr. Poe, he already knows how much I love his work.



LaShawn

  • Lochage
  • *****
  • Posts: 550
  • Writer Mommies Rule!
    • The Cafe in the Woods
Reply #17 on: December 29, 2010, 08:07:32 PM
You know, I've read this several times, but I've always glossed over it because it is so description heavy, I always got lost. This was the first time I got to listen and parse what was going on. The forum discussion also helps too. Neat!

On a side note, if you're an Elfquest fan, Wendy Pini's new comic is sure to delight you.

Edited to fix url - Ocicat
« Last Edit: January 04, 2011, 09:59:11 AM by Ocicat »

--
Visit LaShawn at The Cafe in the Woods:
http://tbonecafe.wordpress.com
Another writer's antiblog: In Touch With Yours Truly