Globalization Poverty Development Sustainability
It seems to me that imagination and reasoning have reached magnificent heights with some writers, especially poets. Among them, I strongly believe, the highest ever was Edgar Allan Poe. With Baudelaire I state that "le poete est souverainement intelligent, qu'il est l'intelligence par excellence, -et que l'imagination est la plus scientifique des facultes, parce que seule elle comprend l'analogie universelle...". One of those poets was Edgar Allan Poe. I reproduce here "The Works of Edgar Allan Poe" as a gesture against what Baudelaire called "la ferocite de l'hypocrisie bourgeoise", and what I personally call mediocrity, imbecility, and comprehensive intellectual dishonesty, all of which is presented as "realistic thinking". And, as we know, contemporary development studies are full of  "realistic thinking". So, let us learn something from Edgar Allan Poe!.  (Róbinson Rojas)
The Project Gutenberg Etext of The Works of Edgar Allan Poe V. 1
Volume 1 of the Raven Edition  #6 in our series by Edgar Allan Poe

VOLUME II  Contents
The Purloined Letter
The Thousand-and-Second Tale of Scheherezade
A Descent into the Maelström
Von Kempelen and his Discovery
Mesmeric Revelation
The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar
The Black Cat
The Fall of the House of Usher
Silence -- a Fable
The Masque of the Red Death
The Cask of Amontillado
The Imp of the Perverse
The Island of the Fay
The Assignation
The Pit and the Pendulum
The Premature Burial
The Domain of Arnheim
Landor's Cottage
William Wilson
The Tell-Tale Heart
Eleonora                                       BACK TO MAIN INDEX
    Dicebant mihi sodales, si sepulchrum amicae visitarem, curas meas
aliquantulum forelevatas.
                              - _Ebn Zaiat_.
    MISERY is manifold. The wretchedness of earth is multiform.
Overreaching the wide horizon as the rainbow, its hues are as various
as the hues of that arch - as distinct too, yet as intimately
blended. Overreaching the wide horizon as the rainbow! How is it that
from beauty I have derived a type of unloveliness? - from the
covenant of peace, a simile of sorrow? But as, in ethics, evil is a
consequence of good, so, in fact, out of joy is sorrow born. Either
the memory of past bliss is the anguish of to-day, or the agonies
which _are_, have their origin in the ecstasies which _might have
    My baptismal name is Egaeus; that of my family I will not
mention. Yet there are no towers in the land more time-honored than
my gloomy, gray, hereditary halls. Our line has been called a race of
visionaries; and in many striking particulars - in the character of
the family mansion - in the frescos of the chief saloon - in the
tapestries of the dormitories - in the chiselling of some buttresses
in the armory - but more especially in the gallery of antique
paintings - in the fashion of the library chamber - and, lastly, in
the very peculiar nature of the library's contents - there is more
than sufficient evidence to warrant the belief.
    The recollections of my earliest years are connected with that
chamber, and with its volumes - of which latter I will say no more.
Here died my mother. Herein was I born. But it is mere idleness to
say that I had not lived before - that the soul has no previous
existence. You deny it? - let us not argue the matter. Convinced
myself, I seek not to convince. There is, however, a remembrance of
aerial forms - of spiritual and meaning eyes - of sounds, musical yet
sad - a remembrance which will not be excluded; a memory like a
shadow - vague, variable, indefinite, unsteady; and like a shadow,
too, in the impossibility of my getting rid of it while the sunlight
of my reason shall exist.
    In that chamber was I born. Thus awaking from the long night of
what seemed, but was not, nonentity, at once into the very regions of
fairy land - into a palace of imagination - into the wild dominions
of monastic thought and erudition - it is not singular that I gazed
around me with a startled and ardent eye - that I loitered away my
boyhood in books, and dissipated my youth in reverie; but it _is_
singular that as years rolled away, and the noon of manhood found me
still in the mansion of my fathers - it _is_ wonderful what
stagnation there fell upon the springs of my life - wonderful how
total an inversion took place in the character of my commonest
thought. The realities of the world affected me as visions, and as
visions only, while the wild ideas of the land of dreams became, in
turn, not the material of my every-day existence, but in very deed
that existence utterly and solely in itself.
*         *         *         *         *        *        *
    Berenice and I were cousins, and we grew up together in my
paternal halls. Yet differently we grew - I, ill of health, and
buried in gloom - she, agile, graceful, and overflowing with energy;
hers, the ramble on the hill-side - mine the studies of the cloister;
I, living within my own heart, and addicted, body and soul, to the
most intense and painful meditation - she, roaming carelessly through
life, with no thought of the shadows in her path, or the silent
flight of the raven-winged hours. Berenice! -I call upon her name -
Berenice! - and from the gray ruins of memory a thousand tumultuous
recollections are startled at the sound! Ah, vividly is her image
before me now, as in the early days of her light-heartedness and joy!
Oh, gorgeous yet fantastic beauty! Oh, sylph amid the shrubberies of
Arnheim! Oh, Naiad among its fountains! And then - then all is
mystery and terror, and a tale which should not be told. Disease - a
fatal disease, fell like the simoon upon her frame; and, even while I
gazed upon her, the spirit of change swept over her, pervading her
mind, her habits, and her character, and, in a manner the most subtle
and terrible, disturbing even the identity of her person! Alas! the
destroyer came and went! - and the victim -where is she? I knew her
not - or knew her no longer as Berenice.
    Among the numerous train of maladies superinduced by that fatal
and primary one which effected a revolution of so horrible a kind in
the moral and physical being of my cousin, may be mentioned as the
most distressing and obstinate in its nature, a species of epilepsy
not unfrequently terminating in _trance_ itself - trance very nearly
resembling positive dissolution, and from which her manner of
recovery was in most instances, startlingly abrupt. In the mean time
my own disease - for I have been told that I should call it by no
other appellation - my own disease, then, grew rapidly upon me, and
assumed finally a monomaniac character of a novel and extraordinary
form - hourly and momently gaining vigor - and at length obtaining
over me the most incomprehensible ascendancy. This monomania, if I
must so term it, consisted in a morbid irritability of those
properties of the mind in metaphysical science termed the
_attentive_. It is more than probable that I am not understood; but I
fear, indeed, that it is in no manner possible to convey to the mind
of the merely general reader, an adequate idea of that nervous
_intensity of interest_ with which, in my case, the powers of
meditation (not to speak technically) busied and buried themselves,
in the contemplation of even the most ordinary objects of the
    To muse for long unwearied hours, with my attention riveted to
some frivolous device on the margin, or in the typography of a book;
to become absorbed, for the better part of a summer's day, in a
quaint shadow falling aslant upon the tapestry or upon the floor; to
lose myself, for an entire night, in watching the steady flame of a
lamp, or the embers of a fire; to dream away whole days over the
perfume of a flower; to repeat, monotonously, some common word, until
the sound, by dint of frequent repetition, ceased to convey any idea
whatever to the mind; to lose all sense of motion or physical
existence, by means of absolute bodily quiescence long and
obstinately persevered in: such were a few of the most common and
least pernicious vagaries induced by a condition of the mental
faculties, not, indeed, altogether unparalleled, but certainly
bidding defiance to anything like analysis or explanation.
    Yet let me not be misapprehended. The undue, earnest, and morbid
attention thus excited by objects in their own nature frivolous, must
not be confounded in character with that ruminating propensity common
to all mankind, and more especially indulged in by persons of ardent
imagination. It was not even, as might be at first supposed, an
extreme condition, or exaggeration of such propensity, but primarily
and essentially distinct and different. In the one instance, the
dreamer, or enthusiast, being interested by an object usually _not_
frivolous, imperceptibly loses sight of this object in a wilderness
of deductions and suggestions issuing therefrom, until, at the
conclusion of a day dream _often replete with luxury_, he finds the
_incitamentum_, or first cause of his musings, entirely vanished and
forgotten. In my case, the primary object was _invariably frivolous_,
although assuming, through the medium of my distempered vision, a
refracted and unreal importance. Few deductions, if any, were made;
and those few pertinaciously returning in upon the original object as
a centre. The meditations were _never_ pleasurable; and, at the
termination of the reverie, the first cause, so far from being out of
sight, had attained that supernaturally exaggerated interest which
was the prevailing feature of the disease. In a word, the powers of
mind more particularly exercised were, with me, as I have said
before, the _attentive_, and are, with the day-dreamer, the
    My books, at this epoch, if they did not actually serve to
irritate the disorder, partook, it will be perceived, largely, in
their imaginative and inconsequential nature, of the characteristic
qualities of the disorder itself. I well remember, among others, the
treatise of the noble Italian, Coelius Secundus Curio, "_De
Amplitudine Beati Regni Dei;_" St. Austin's great work, the "City of
God;" and Tertullian's "_De Carne Christi_," in which the paradoxical
sentence "_Mortuus est Dei filius; credible est quia ineptum est: et
sepultus resurrexit; certum est quia impossibile est,_" occupied my
undivided time, for many weeks of laborious and fruitless
    Thus it will appear that, shaken from its balance only by trivial
things, my reason bore resemblance to that ocean-crag spoken of by
Ptolemy Hephestion, which steadily resisting the attacks of human
violence, and the fiercer fury of the waters and the winds, trembled
only to the touch of the flower called Asphodel. And although, to a
careless thinker, it might appear a matter beyond doubt, that the
alteration produced by her unhappy malady, in the _moral_ condition
of Berenice, would afford me many objects for the exercise of that
intense and abnormal meditation whose nature I have been at some
trouble in explaining, yet such was not in any degree the case. In
the lucid intervals of my infirmity, her calamity, indeed, gave me
pain, and, taking deeply to heart that total wreck of her fair and
gentle life, I did not fall to ponder, frequently and bitterly, upon
the wonder-working means by which so strange a revolution had been so
suddenly brought to pass. But these reflections partook not of the
idiosyncrasy of my disease, and were such as would have occurred,
under similar circumstances, to the ordinary mass of mankind. True to
its own character, my disorder revelled in the less important but
more startling changes wrought in the _physical_ frame of Berenice -
in the singular and most appalling distortion of her personal
    During the brightest days of her unparalleled beauty, most surely
I had never loved her. In the strange anomaly of my existence,
feelings with me, _had never been_ of the heart, and my passions
_always were_ of the mind. Through the gray of the early morning -
among the trellised shadows of the forest at noonday - and in the
silence of my library at night - she had flitted by my eyes, and I
had seen her - not as the living and breathing Berenice, but as the
Berenice of a dream; not as a being of the earth, earthy, but as the
abstraction of such a being; not as a thing to admire, but to
analyze; not as an object of love, but as the theme of the most
abstruse although desultory speculation. And _now_ - now I shuddered
in her presence, and grew pale at her approach; yet, bitterly
lamenting her fallen and desolate condition, I called to mind that
she had loved me long, and, in an evil moment, I spoke to her of
    And at length the period of our nuptials was approaching, when,
upon an afternoon in the winter of the year - one of those
unseasonably warm, calm, and misty days which are the nurse of the
beautiful Halcyon {*1}, - I sat, (and sat, as I thought, alone,) in
the inner apartment of the library. But, uplifting my eyes, I saw
that Berenice stood before me.
    Was it my own excited imagination - or the misty influence of the
atmosphere - or the uncertain twilight of the chamber - or the gray
draperies which fell around her figure - that caused in it so
vacillating and indistinct an outline? I could not tell. She spoke no
word; and I - not for worlds could I have uttered a syllable. An icy
chill ran through my frame; a sense of insufferable anxiety oppressed
me; a consuming curiosity pervaded my soul; and sinking back upon the
chair, I remained for some time breathless and motionless, with my
eyes riveted upon her person. Alas! its emaciation was excessive, and
not one vestige of the former being lurked in any single line of the
contour. My burning glances at length fell upon the face.
    The forehead was high, and very pale, and singularly placid; and
the once jetty hair fell partially over it, and overshadowed the
hollow temples with innumerable ringlets, now of a vivid yellow, and
jarring discordantly, in their fantastic character, with the reigning
melancholy of the countenance. The eyes were lifeless, and
lustreless, and seemingly pupilless, and I shrank involuntarily from
their glassy stare to  he contemplation of the thin and shrunken
lips. They parted; and in a smile of peculiar meaning, _the teeth_ of
the changed Berenice disclosed themselves slowly to my view. Would to
God that I had never beheld them, or that, having done so, I had
*         *         *         *         *        *        *
    The shutting of a door disturbed me, and, looking up, I found
that my cousin had departed from the chamber. But from the disordered
chamber of my brain, had not, alas! departed, and would not be driven
away, the white and ghastly _spectrum_ of the teeth. Not a speck on
their surface - not a shade on their enamel - not an indenture in
their edges - but what that period of her smile had sufficed to brand
in upon my memory. I saw them _now_ even more unequivocally than I
beheld them _then_. The teeth! - the teeth! - they were here, and
there, and everywhere, and visibly and palpably before me; long,
narrow, and excessively white, with the pale lips writhing about
them, as in the very moment of their first terrible development. Then
came the full fury of my _monomania_, and I struggled in vain against
its strange and irresistible influence. In the multiplied objects of
the external world I had no thoughts but for the teeth. For these I
longed with a phrenzied desire. All other matters and all different
interests became absorbed in their single contemplation. They - they
alone were present to the mental eye, and they, in their sole
individuality, became the essence of my mental life. I held them in
every light. I turned them in every attitude. I surveyed their
characteristics. I dwelt upon their peculiarities. I pondered upon
their conformation. I mused upon the alteration in their nature. I
shuddered as I assigned to them in imagination a sensitive and
sentient power, and even when unassisted by the lips, a capability of
moral expression. Of Mademoiselle Salle it has been well said, "_Que
tous ses pas etaient des sentiments_," and of Berenice I more
seriously believed _que toutes ses dents etaient des idees_. _Des
idees!_ - ah here was the idiotic thought that destroyed me! _Des
idees!_ - ah _therefore_ it was that I coveted them so madly! I felt
that their possession could alone ever restore me to peace, in giving
me back to reason.
    And the evening closed in upon me thus - and then the darkness
came, and tarried, and went - and the day again dawned - and the
mists of a second night were now gathering around - and still I sat
motionless in that solitary room - and still I sat buried in
meditation - and still the _phantasma_ of the teeth maintained its
terrible ascendancy, as, with the most vivid hideous distinctness, it
floated about amid the changing lights and shadows of the chamber. At
length there broke in upon my dreams a cry as of horror and dismay;
and thereunto, after a pause, succeeded the sound of troubled voices,
intermingled with many low moanings of sorrow or of pain. I arose
from my seat, and throwing open one of the doors of the library, saw
standing out in the ante-chamber a servant maiden, all in tears, who
told me that Berenice was - no more! She had been seized with
epilepsy in the early morning, and now, at the closing in of the
night, the grave was ready for its tenant, and all the preparations
for the burial were completed.
*         *         *         *         *        *        *
    I found myself sitting in the library, and again sitting there
alone. It seemed that I had newly awakened from a confused and
exciting dream. I knew that it was now midnight, and I was well
aware, that since the setting of the sun, Berenice had been interred.
But of that dreary period which intervened I had no positive, at
least no definite comprehension. Yet its memory was replete with
horror - horror more horrible from being vague, and terror more
terrible from ambiguity. It was a fearful page in the record my
existence, written all over with dim, and hideous, and unintelligible
recollections. I strived to decypher them, but in vain; while ever
and anon, like the spirit of a departed sound, the shrill and
piercing shriek of a female voice seemed to be ringing in my ears. I
had done a deed - what was it? I asked myself the question aloud, and
the whispering echoes of the chamber answered me, - "_what was it?_"
    On the table beside me burned a lamp, and near it lay a little
box. It was of no remarkable character, and I had seen it frequently
before, for it was the property of the family physician; but how came
it _there_, upon my table, and why did I shudder in regarding it?
These things were in no manner to be accounted for, and my eyes at
length dropped to the open pages of a book, and to a sentence
underscored therein. The words were the singular but simple ones of
the poet Ebn Zaiat: - "_Dicebant mihi sodales si sepulchrum amicae
visitarem, curas meas aliquantulum fore levatas_." Why then, as I
perused them, did the hairs of my head erect themselves on end, and
the blood of my body become congealed within my veins?
    There came a light tap at the library door - and, pale as the
tenant of a tomb, a menial entered upon tiptoe. His looks were wild
with terror, and he spoke to me in a voice tremulous, husky, and very
low. What said he? - some broken sentences I heard. He told of a wild
cry disturbing the silence of the night - of the gathering together
of the household - of a search in the direction of the sound; and
then his tones grew thrillingly distinct as he whispered me of a
violated grave - of a disfigured body enshrouded, yet still breathing
- still palpitating - _still alive_!
    He pointed to garments; - they were muddy and clotted with gore.
I spoke not, and he took me gently by the hand: it was indented with
the impress of human nails. He directed my attention to some object
against the wall. I looked at it for some minutes: it was a spade.
With a shriek I bounded to the table, and grasped the box that lay
upon it. But I could not force it open; and in my tremor, it slipped
from my hands, and fell heavily, and burst into pieces; and from it,
with a rattling sound, there rolled out some instruments of dental
surgery, intermingled with thirty-two small, white and ivory-looking
substances that were scattered to and fro about the floor.

~~~ End of Text ~~~
{*1} For as Jove, during the winter season, gives twice seven days of
warmth, men have called this element and temperate time the nurse of
the beautiful Halcyon -- _Simonides_