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The Pit and the Pendulum (Phoenix Classics)

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"The Pit and the Pendulum" is a short story written by Edgar Allan Poe and first published in 1842. The story is about the torments endured by a prisoner of the Spanish Inquisition, though Poe skews historical facts. The narrator of the story is deemed guilty for an unnamed crime and put into a completely dark room. He passes out while trying to determine the size of the r "The Pit and the Pendulum" is a short story written by Edgar Allan Poe and first published in 1842. The story is about the torments endured by a prisoner of the Spanish Inquisition, though Poe skews historical facts. The narrator of the story is deemed guilty for an unnamed crime and put into a completely dark room. He passes out while trying to determine the size of the room. When he wakes up, he realizes there is a large, deep pit in the middle of the room. He loses consciousness again and awakens strapped on his back, unable to move more than his head. He soon realizes there is a large blade-like pendulum hanging above him, slowly getting closer to cutting through his chest. He finds a way to escape but the walls of his prison start to move and close in on him, pushing him closer and closer to falling into the pit. The story is especially effective at inspiring fear in the reader because of its heavy focus on the senses, such as sound, emphasizing its reality, unlike many of Poe's stories which are aided by the supernatural. The traditional elements established in popular horror tales at the time are followed but critical reception has been mixed.


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"The Pit and the Pendulum" is a short story written by Edgar Allan Poe and first published in 1842. The story is about the torments endured by a prisoner of the Spanish Inquisition, though Poe skews historical facts. The narrator of the story is deemed guilty for an unnamed crime and put into a completely dark room. He passes out while trying to determine the size of the r "The Pit and the Pendulum" is a short story written by Edgar Allan Poe and first published in 1842. The story is about the torments endured by a prisoner of the Spanish Inquisition, though Poe skews historical facts. The narrator of the story is deemed guilty for an unnamed crime and put into a completely dark room. He passes out while trying to determine the size of the room. When he wakes up, he realizes there is a large, deep pit in the middle of the room. He loses consciousness again and awakens strapped on his back, unable to move more than his head. He soon realizes there is a large blade-like pendulum hanging above him, slowly getting closer to cutting through his chest. He finds a way to escape but the walls of his prison start to move and close in on him, pushing him closer and closer to falling into the pit. The story is especially effective at inspiring fear in the reader because of its heavy focus on the senses, such as sound, emphasizing its reality, unlike many of Poe's stories which are aided by the supernatural. The traditional elements established in popular horror tales at the time are followed but critical reception has been mixed.

30 review for The Pit and the Pendulum (Phoenix Classics)

  1. 4 out of 5

    Jeffrey Keeten

    ”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.” 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 ”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.” 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 Inquisition so his offense could be that he is not a Catholic or not religious enough or he might have been accused of one of the many offences against God that require such a low level of proof. The Inquisition was not only about condemning and punishing, but also these thunderously righteous monks seemed inordinately fascinated with eliciting the most psychological and physical pain inspired terror as possible. The judges pass judgement but do not tell him how he is to die. If I knew I was going to be beheaded or hanged or drawn and quartered, at least I could mentally prepare myself for my death. Visualizing it would somewhat help me come to peace with it. Not to say I still wouldn’t void my bladder at the first sight of the gallows or the executioner’s blade or the bristling rows of rifles all pointed at my heart. Our narrator finds himself in a cell nay more a vault, with hideous pictures on the walls, damp stone enclosing him all sides, bundles of writhing rats, and a deep pit that seems to be an abyss into hell. The pit is supposed to be his death, but he discovers it just before plunging to his demise. "’Death,’ I said, ‘any death but that of the pit’!" Hold that thought! He swoons out of fear or from some mild intoxicant that they lace his food and drink with (pure speculation on my part), and each time he comes to his senses there is food and drink at his side. He is grateful for the sustenance, but this ratchets up the fear that he is so helpless that someone came and went without his knowledge. Whenever I read an Edgar Allan Poe, I’m always struck by the way he puts a sliver of fear in the reader and, then in progressive paragraphs, continues to rend that sliver of uneasiness wider. He lets loose spiders of dread that run amuck in the mind, leaving tendrils of webbing behind that vibrate, jangling the nerves and firing synapses until they burn out like collapsing stars. I need a nap after reading a Poe story, but who wants to sleep with all those fresh nightmares crowding the mind, waiting to pluck the boundaries of your sanity like petals on a flower? The pit may not have worked, but these resourceful monks have more tricks up their voluminous sleeves. Our plucky narrator wakes from another swoon to find himself strapped to a wooden framed bed, and something truly insidious is descending from the ceiling. ”The sweep of the pendulum had increased in extent by nearly a yard. As a natural consequence, its velocity was also much greater. But what mainly disturbed me was the idea that had perceptibly descended. I now observed--with what horror it is needless to say--that its nether extremity was formed of a crescent of glittering steel, about a foot in length from horn to horn; the horns upward, and the under edge evidently as keen as that of a razor. Like a razor also, it seemed massy and heavy, tapering from the edge into a solid and broad structure above. It was appended to a weighty rod of brass, and the whole hissed as it swung through the air.” My office was feeling a bit stuffy as I was reading this story, which might have been induced by feelings of being trapped, inspired quite possibly by Poe. I turned on the overhead fan, and as Poe describes the descent of the blade on the pendulum, I could feel my anxiety levels increasing exponentially. It took me a moment to realize that the hum generated by the fan was adding to my agitation. I stood to go turn the fan off, but then realized that, since I am probably healthy enough to sustain the higher terror levels, I should continue to allow the hum from the fan to enhance my reading experience. ***SHIVER*** To add to the narrator’s already high level of horror is something that is part of his nature, as it is of mine,...hope. It is difficult to believe, as dire as a circumstance can be, that this is truly our...final extinction. Something or someone will save us. Maybe even the God we have offended, according to the self-righteous monks, will intercede. As long as there is hope, there is the possibility of inducing more and more fear in the prisoner. Once a person has given up, accepted their death, adding more and more creative aspects of torture are futile and, dare I say, no longer entertaining. Edgar Allan Poe I often think of the nightmares of Poe. The demons that stalked the graveyards of his memories. The screams that must have emanated from his bedroom when a fresh horror had him by the throat. I can see him reaching with trembling hands for pen and paper with the beginnings of a smile turning up the corners of his mouth. There are only about 6600 words in this story, but I was pleasantly surprised to have notated so many great, quotable lines. There are way too many for one review, but it gives you an idea of the power of Poe’s writing. I’ve read this story at least three times over my lifetime, and still every time I read it, I feel the chills racing up and down my spine. Now I need a nap, or better yet a double espresso. If you wish to see more of my most recent book and movie reviews, visit http://www.jeffreykeeten.com I also have a Facebook blogger page at: https://www.facebook.com/JeffreyKeeten

  2. 5 out of 5

    Glenn Russell

    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. SADISM Why do such a thing? The story’s torture chamber is not a makeshift construction slapped together; ra 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. SADISM Why do such a thing? The story’s torture chamber is not a makeshift construction slapped together; rather, with its pendulum descending in mathematical precision and its collapsing metal walls turning red hot, to assemble such a bizarre, intricate room would take sophisticated engineering, huge resources and lots of time, perhaps years. What does such a room say about the Western monastic tradition and the mentality of monks? In The Distant Mirror, The Calamitous 14th Century author Barbara W. Tuchman richly portrays the psychology of these chaotic, disorderly times. For example, she writes, “In village games, players with hands tied behind them competed to kill a cat nailed to a post by battering it to death with their heads, at the risk of cheeks ripped open or eyes scratched out by the frantic animal’s claws. Trumpets enhanced the excitement. Or a pig enclosed in a wide pen was chased by men with clubs to the laughter of spectators as he ran squealing from the blows until beaten lifeless. Accustomed in their own lives to physical hardship and injury, medieval men and women were not necessarily repelled by the spectacle of pain but rather enjoyed it. It may be that the untender medieval infancy produced adults who valued others no more than they had been valued in their own formative years.” Nowadays, we have a name for “untender infancy”: child abuse. We also have a word for enjoying the spectacle of pain inflicted on others: sadism. Of course, the effects of child abuse and living in a society accepting sadism as the norm would not disappear when men became monks. What undoubtedly added fuel to this psychological fire was a religion and theology giving a central place to guilt and sin and thus turning men against their own bodies and, more specifically, again their own sexuality. Reaching absolute conclusions about the mindset of peoples living centuries ago can never be an exact science, but it doesn’t take too much imagination to understand how such a life in such a time would produce a population of dark, twisted people. Poe’s tale takes place in 1820s not the 1350s, but how much did the psychology of the monasteries really change in these years? ALTERED STATES OF CONSCIOUSNESS In the beginning stages of the narrator’s ordeal, he conveys the following, “Very suddenly there came back to my soul motion and sound – the tumultuous motion of the heart, and, in my ears, the sound of its beating. Then a pause in which all is blank. Then again sound, and motion and touch – a tingling sensation pervading my frame. Then the mere consciousness of existence, without thought – a condition which lasted long.” Teachers within the various yoga and Buddhist traditions talk about the "consciousness of existence, without thought," that is, the gap between thoughts. In such a gap between thoughts we are given a glimpse of the ground of being, pure awareness of space. This awareness can be developed through meditation or occasionally experienced through such things as hallucinogens, trance, or, as with the narrator of Poe’s tale, extreme emotional states. FEAR Adding to the fear of actual physical suffering, there is the fear we project with our minds and imaginations. The narrator’s imagination is afire: “And now, as I still continued to step cautiously onward, there came thronging upon my recollection a thousand vague rumors of the horrors of Toledo. Of the dungeons there had been strange things narrated – fables I had always deemed them – but yet strange and too ghastly to repeat, save in a whisper. Was I left to perish of starvation in this subterranean world of darkness; or what fate, perhaps even more fearful, awaited me?” Fear thrives on our projecting into the future: whatever pain or agony we are currently experiencing, there is always the ever-present possibility our plight will become worse. HOPE AND GOOD FORTUNE The narrator is forever hopeful and it’s the narrator’s hope coupled with his fear and sufferings that gives the tale its emotional depth and breath. And, as it turns out, good fortune or what we more commonly call ‘luck’ follows the narrator at three critical junctures in the tale. Oh, Fortuna, if we could all have such good fortune and luck at critical points in our own lives! “I call to mind flatness and dampness; and then all is madness - the madness of a memory which busies itself among forbidden things.” ― Edgar Allan Poe, The Pit and the Pendulum

  3. 4 out of 5

    Michael

    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 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 loneliness allows him to reflect quite eloquently on his own dream-like consciousness. At the same time, Poe maintains a frenzied intensity that literally kept me on the edge of my seat the entire time. Amazing how much he packs into so few pages!

  4. 5 out of 5

    Candi

    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 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 Pit and the Pendulum is a classic - one that keeps you in the grip of horror while the tension mounts relentlessly. The torture chamber of the Inquisition is a place you will relish reading about, but do expect to get a grand case of the willies by the time you reach that last sentence! Oh, and that ending - perfect!

  5. 5 out of 5

    Bookdragon Sean

    WHAT DO YOU MEAN MR POE?!!!? 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 WHAT DO YOU MEAN MR POE?!!!? 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 all man’s time: it will approach all. “I could have clasped the red walls to my bosom as a garment of eternal peace. "Death," I said, "any death but that of the pit!" Fool! might I have not known that into the pit it was the object of the burning iron to urge me?” However, despite the cryptic metaphors, the complex imagery and fatalistic symbolism, the short story isn’t as simple as that. There’s also a political message alluding to Napoleon’s rule. Poe conveys time descending between two events. The first is the narrator being forced to sit with entities that embody the “dreamy” idea of the French rule and its “fanciful” progress. This is clearly a sarcastic suggestion towards beliefs that rarely work in action. The alleviation of the torment, time’s arching progress, the second event, occurs when the narrator is saved by General Lasalles. For those of you that don’t know, the general was a prominent commander under the command of Napoleon. Napoleon effectively ended the Revolution and the Spanish Inquisition. So, the story becomes a little murky here. The narrator was in a hopeless situation, one that appears to be his ending. But, he is then rescued by a brave French general. So what does this suggest? Perhaps the time in the pit is a suggestion of the dark time that occurred during the Revolution, before Napoleon ended it. It was dark, hopeless and completely out of control. Perhaps the narrator being saved is a possible suggestion of the hopes liberal thinkers had towards Napoleon’s rule. Most of the early Romantic poets supported him, Wordsworth and Blake included. Or perhaps it’s a suggestion that darkness is symbiotic with a corrupt French rule. It’s hard to say, I can’t make a solid interpretation of it. I find that the political allusions complicate the story. I find myself trying to discover their meaning when I should, perhaps, be focusing on the elements of torture and anxiety created by the narrator’s experience. This is a beautifully written story. Poe is the master; he is the undisputable, equivocal, paramount evoker of the sublime, the grotesque and the picturesque. This story is superb, but I just can’t form a solid impression of it: I cannot constitute what the political allusion means. And it’s bugging me so much. Perhaps I should go and read it for a fifth time. I don’t think I’ll get my answers though. “...the agony of my soul found vent in one loud, long and final scream of despair.” This is your usual Poe: a wonderfully dark situation accentuated by exquisite writing. I just wish I could make an interpretation of it.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽

    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 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 historical accuracy,* has created a compelling tale of both physical and psychological horror. The oppressive atmosphere of the tomb-like room, the decayed fungus smell of the pit, the "glittering death" of the razor-sharp pendulum, the cold lips of enormous red-eyed rats seeking the lips of the prisoner (YES) -- the descriptions Poe uses are vivid, engaging all of the reader's senses. Even though the story is completely fanciful from a factual point of view, as an examination of the psychological effects of imprisonment and torture it's very effective. The story is heavier on atmosphere than plot, but it still makes for compelling reading. You can read "The Pit and the Pendulum" online (or download it) many places, including here at Project Gutenberg. Bonus: an English translation of the Latin epigram at the beginning of the story:"Here an unholy mob of torturers with an insatiable thirst for innocent blood, once fed their long frenzy. Now our homeland is safe, the funereal cave destroyed, and life and health appear where dreadful death once was."*Just for fun, here are some of the historical inaccuracies in this story: **spoilers ahoy!** - There's no evidence that the Spanish inquisitors used such elaborate (and unlikely) means of torture as are described in this story. (They favored the rack, water torture, and the strappado, hanging the victim from the ceiling by his wrists, which were tied behind the back. At least if Wikipedia is to be believed. I claim no independent knowledge or research here.) - Also, torture was used before the trial, to obtain a confession, not as a method of punishment or death. - The prisoner is rescued by General Lasalle of Napoleon's army. This means the story is set in the early 1800s, centuries after the Spanish Inquisition was at its height. - Lasalle wasn't actually in command of the French army in Toledo, Spain. So he wouldn't have been around to play deus ex machina for our prisoner in that city.

  7. 5 out of 5

    James

    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 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 victim finds a way out... in a somewhat ingenious manner. But when he's saved, he falls into the pit as the walls begin to close in on him. Once again, before he perishes, he is saved when the Inquisition is over. On the outskirts, it's just a Gothic tale of a man afraid to die. Two horrific options nearly take his life, all the way messing with this mental state. Neither are a quick and painless death. Both will shock his body and render his mind afraid of life... in a permanent state... just as he enters the after-life. Poe's saying a lot more here than what you read upon an initial viewing of this story. As expected, the story takes you on the ride of your life. It's a careful executed imagination that can find the right words and the perfect background to constantly jiggle the paranoia we all feel at some point in our lives. Certainly not the best of his short stories, it is a good one... something all beginning thriller fans should read. About Me For those new to me or my reviews... here's the scoop: I read A LOT. I write A LOT. And now I blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you'll also find TV & Film reviews, the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge and lots of blogging about places I've visited all over the world. And you can find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Vote in the poll and ratings. Thanks for stopping by.

  8. 4 out of 5

    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)[for instance the airlessness of the cell, the dim or nonexistent lighting, the hissing of the blade, the heat of the walls. (hide spoiler)] It packs a punch precisely because it it feels so rooted in reality, rather than incorporating anything supernatural. The story 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)[for instance the airlessness of the cell, the dim or nonexistent lighting, the hissing of the blade, the heat of the walls. (hide spoiler)] It packs a punch precisely because it it feels so rooted in reality, rather than incorporating anything supernatural. The story takes place in the dungeons of Toledo during the Inquisition. From the start we are thrust into the experience of a prisoner undergoing torture,(view spoiler)[ but the methods are unclear. He has flashback glimpses of a trial, with judges who are described in a grotesque way. Throughout the tale the prisoner is confused and dissociating himself periodically from the situation he is in, giving a strong sense of immediacy to the reader. He thinks at first that he is in a tomb, then realises it is a cell. (hide spoiler)] The confusion and tenacious courage of the prisoner build up the suspense, and the reader becomes very involved as the determination and inventiveness of the character against all the odds develops strongly. The tension in the story is carefully controlled. (view spoiler)[ The slow but inexorable swing of the pendulum scythe mirrors the slow progress of the prisoner's crawl around the cell, before he discovers the gigantic pit. With the aid of his meagre food he is able to set rats to nibble at his bonds (thereby cleverly increasing the horror effect for those readers who dislike rats!) only to find another stage in his torture when the metal walls of the cell become redhot and gradually close in on him. The ending when the prisoner is personally rescued from the brink of disaster by Napoleon's General Lasalle of the French army, is hard to fathom. The Peninsular War was later than the Spanish Inquisition, and Lasalle was not ever in Toledo. It comes entirely as a surprise and seems out of keeping with the increasing drips of suspense built up during the tale. Did Poe perhaps think that his audience would not welcome a more brutal ending? Or was he simply bowing to convention, in that the prisoner was the narrator, so logically had to survive, in which case the narrator's anxiety about death becomes ironic. (hide spoiler)] W. B. Yeats was generally critical of Poe, calling him "vulgar." Of The Pit and the Pendulum he said, "[it does] not seem to me to have permanent literary value of any kind... Analyse the Pit and the Pendulum and you find an appeal to the nerves by tawdry physical affrightments." It's powerful stuff though!

  9. 5 out of 5

    Araz Goran

    الحفرة والبندول ~ إدجار آلان بو ياللجحيم الساكن في دماغ هذا الرجل , كل قصة يكتبها هي الفزع, هي الجحيم بعينه, الشر المطلق الوقت والرعب , لا يلتقيان أبداً إلا في أبشع القصص , لا شيء يُفزع الإنسان أكثر من مصارعة الوقت وتحدي الموت البطيء الذي سيأتي كعقوبة إعدام , الوقوف على الخط الفاصل بين الحياة والموت , حين يكون الوقت هو السيد.. في هذه القصة يكثف " بو " مفهوم الوقت كيف أنها تتلاعب بنفسية الإنسان في أصعب الظروف , حين تعلم أن الموت قادم لا محالة , حين تشعر بدغدغة الخطر وأنت عاجز عن فعل أي شيء حقيقي لأي الحفرة والبندول ~ إدجار آلان بو ياللجحيم الساكن في دماغ هذا الرجل , كل قصة يكتبها هي الفزع, هي الجحيم بعينه, الشر المطلق الوقت والرعب , لا يلتقيان أبداً إلا في أبشع القصص , لا شيء يُفزع الإنسان أكثر من مصارعة الوقت وتحدي الموت البطيء الذي سيأتي كعقوبة إعدام , الوقوف على الخط الفاصل بين الحياة والموت , حين يكون الوقت هو السيد.. في هذه القصة يكثف " بو " مفهوم الوقت كيف أنها تتلاعب بنفسية الإنسان في أصعب الظروف , حين تعلم أن الموت قادم لا محالة , حين تشعر بدغدغة الخطر وأنت عاجز عن فعل أي شيء حقيقي لأيقاف الخطر الداهم .. كما في سلسلة أفلام " المنشار " الشهيرة التي يتلاعب فيها المجرم بمصير الضحايا عن طريق إختبارات تتضمن بعضها تحدي الوقت للنجاة من الموت, أو على الأقل الخروج بأقل الخسائر الممكنة .. ولا أستبعد أن تكون هذه القصة الشريرة هي الملهمة لصناعة تلك الأفلام الجنونية المفزعة.. القصة هنا كالتالي, شخصٌ مربوط بحبال كثيفة ومرمي في حفرة بينما تدور عتلة فوق منتصف جسده تشبه البندول المتحرك تحمل منشاراً , مع مرور الوقت يقترب المنشار أكثر فأكثر من جسده بينما هو في صراع شرس لكي ينتزع نفسه من الحبال كي يخرج من الحفرة قبل أن يفوت الأوان ويصل المشار الى جسده.. قصة مثيرة للأعصاب , من كلاسيكيات الرعب التي تثير الفزع والغرابة في النفس..

  10. 5 out of 5

    Fabian

    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 impending death!

  11. 5 out of 5

    Brian

    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 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 that made me smile and say in elated emotion: "Damn. He was good." ------------ 1/2016 My second read, since my first read consisted of... Blah blah blah...Ooh, shiny metal going to cut!...blah blah blah...hot! hot!...blah! Blah!...surprise ending. This time round I heard every word. Poe had extraordinary intelligence and writing ability. He can get in your mind and scare the gremlins out. The story takes the reader through a first person, scene by scene account of a torture chamber. You will hear the swing of the pendulum coming for you, little by little, and know it will slice you in tiny increments, through skin and eventually blood, and bone, through your ribs and to your heart.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Carol

    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!

  13. 5 out of 5

    Bettie☯

    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.

  14. 4 out of 5

    K.D. Absolutely

    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 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 scary story. It is about a Protestant man incarcerated due to heresy at the height of the Spanish Inquisition. The story is like a descent to madness even if it is just in one setting and probably all of the events only happened in one day. First is when he is trying to measure the size of the dungeon, but he falls and collapses. When he wakes up, he sees food and water. After eating, he falls asleep and when he wakes up he sees a pit and he realizes that it is very deep. He falls asleep again and when he wakes up he sees a swinging pendulum. Luckily there are rats and he smears the leftover of the food on the rope that binds his hands. The rats nib on the rope and so he is able to free himself right in time before the blade of the pendulum gets the chance to slice his heart. The prose is very scary and the focus is on what is going around particularly what the narrator's senses can detect inside the dungeon. There are no supernatural elements in the story but EAP's prose can scare the shit out of you. A very appropriate post-Halloween read. Mr. Virgilio Amolar must have loved Mr. Edgar Allan Poe very much. Mr. Amolar did not explain the relationships of those to history. Mr. Allan Poe did not bother to explain the reason why the narrator was put in the dungeon. It's kinda Kafkaesque though and it is a classic so it can be forgivable. In the same token that I have forgiven Mr. Amolar for not teaching me something that I could still recall after 30 years.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Kathleen

    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.

  16. 5 out of 5

    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 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 passes out when hearing he will be punished. He awakens in a dark room and feels around the walls, having to use the sense of touch to try and figure out where he is, what's in store for him, if there is a possibility of escape. He ends up fainting again, but this time awakens to drink drugged water. He awakes another time strapped down to a series of wooden boards, and this time he can see. His mind is constantly thinking of all the horrible stories that are told about this place, and he fears what he has in store for him. Really most of the dread and genuine horror Poe conveys in this tale is through anticipation. Fear about waking alone in the room and wondering where you are and what is to happen, then fear about the unknown choice of death that awaits him. Finally he knows how he is set to do, but the torturers have added a new depth - a slow death where he must lay and wait, helpless, for the death to finally come. At the beginning of the tale the man has a tendency to faint from horror and helplessness. His own terror keeps him prisoner later (or so it appears to him.) Even when the pendulum is slowly coming down, he begins to hope for it to rush down quicker, just to end it and get it over with. Finally, he begins to become crafty and manages to free himself from the impeding doom through calm rationale and a will to survive. "...the agony of my soul found vent in one loud, long, and final scream of despair." Bleak and cruel, this story was a good one. As with Murders in the Rue Morgue, I do feel Poe was a little awkward with his opening. He seems to ramble slightly at first and fails to grab the attention enough. As with Rue Morgue, I had to keep reading to become engrossed. It's almost as if he is mentally finding his way and the right path to place his steps when the story starts, and once confidence has entered, it's an easier transition for the reader. I do have to say through the long buildup and everything in so much detail, the ending rush being contained in a single paragraph almost feels cut off. A major thing has occurred - surprise - a few sentences - it is done! I know the point of the story was the horrible dread, the awful hopelessness that must have been experienced during the dreadful Inquisition, a man's fight of survival in overwhelming odds. Still, the jarring ending was almost like a glass of water to the face, interrupting the flow in such a jarring manner that it could have been longer to seem more true to the tale. As always, Poe writes beautifully, especially after the first few pages and when he has more sure footing with his work. He had a talent for expressing the mournful, horrible bleakness that erupts from darkness to envelop humanity. With words he can make one clearly picture and actually feel being so frightened, so desperate, so surrounding by darkness and despair. To the victims of its tyranny, there was the choice of death with its direct 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.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Jose Moa

    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 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 terror. Roger Corman directed a interesting movie loosely based in this tale. As only a anecdotic fact, this tale is influenced by the prejudices of Spanish Black Legend. The Inquisition not only murdered people in Spain,we have some examples of others Inquisition murders: Galileo imprisoned in Italy, Juana de Arco murdered in France, Giordano Bruno murdered in Italy, Lucilio Vanini murdered in France, Jan Hus murdered in Germany, Pietro Dabano murdered in Italy, Miguel Servet murdered in Switzerland.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Fernando

    Este cuento de Poe me fascina, porque al igual que con El Entierro Prematuro, nos posiciona en el mismo lugar que el narrador. Son cuentos desesperantes, asfixiantes, nos hacen sentir incómodos, consustanciarnos con la desgracia de quien lo padece y queriendo leer rápidamente las líneas del cuento para salir a respirar. O no...

  19. 5 out of 5

    Katarina Antonia

    Dark, terrifying and reminds me on a long forgotten nightmare- truly a masterpiece.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Lou

    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 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 fear. Poe is a cut above many writers with his exceptional use of the English language and psychologically connects so well with the experience and emotions. This was short but a work far greater than many 400 page novels could achieve. Why it took me so long to give this story a read? Truly diabolical, Poe I do apologise sincerely! "I felt that my senses were leaving me. The sentence, the dread sentence of death, was the last of distinct accentuation which reached my ears." "At length, with a wild desperation at heart, I quickly unclosed my eyes. My worst thoughts, then, were confirmed. 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. I still lay quietly, and made effort to exercise my reason."

  21. 5 out of 5

    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 "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 one actually ends (view spoiler)[on a positive note! (hide spoiler)] (I know! Crazy, right?) I didn't love this too much, though, because it didn't have the sort of moral or philosophical depth that Ligeia and The Fall of the House of Usher did- then again, those two dealt with largely supernatural, abnormal happenings, whereas this is pretty much just an account of Inquisitorial torture. Heinous and terrifying, to be sure, but it didn't make me think or ask me important questions (apart from wondering what the narrator was sentenced to death for), and those are two things that I really want from my short stories. I hold Poe's stories to an even higher standard, as those two mentioned before were amazing and thought-provoking. I'm off to read Masque of the Red Death now! The Month of Poe continues!

  22. 4 out of 5

    Tracey

    This scared the living daylights out of me. I bloody loved it.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Dana

    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 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 awful will happen. With The Pit And The Pendulum, every sentence pulled me further and further into the story. The suspense built so well, that the last few pages, I found myself reading faster and faster to see what would happen to the imprisoned protagonist. With the descending metal pendulum swinging closer and closer to our bound man sentenced to death, I was dying to know whether he would break free. The symbolism and dark themes of hell and redemption that Poe used to create this masterpiece were so impressive. The imagery that Poe's words evoked in my mind created a creepy tale perfect for impending Halloween!

  24. 4 out of 5

    Leonard

    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 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 its content but also its form; the words and sentences, like spectral needles and blades, pierce memory and imagination to engrave a tangy nightmare. Yes, before Stephen King, there was Edgar Allan Poe. Bon appetite! Edgar Ellen Poe

  25. 5 out of 5

    A. Dawes

    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.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

    “...the agony of my soul found vent in one loud, long and final scream of despair.”

  27. 4 out of 5

    Haifa

    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. “Af 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. “After this I call to mind flatness and dampness; and then all is madness—the madness of a memory which busies itself among forbidden things.” “In the deepest slumber—no! In delirium—no! In a swoon—no! In death—no! even in the grave all is not lost.” Poe masterfully keeps his reader on the edge of his seat, holding his breath, anxiously waiting for the main character's fate. This piercing short story took hold of my senses. I was hooked from he very beginning. I am POEsitively sure that any suspense enthusiast will love it!

  28. 5 out of 5

    Bonnie

    ’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 ’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 sentence may have already been passed, he still did not feel that he himself was dead, but rather he felt that he was being kept in a dungeon of sorts. This was quite a creepy and disconcerting little story and definitely gave me goosebumps. ’I had but escaped death in one form of agony, to be delivered unto worse than death in some other.’ And I’ve now determined that reading about rats crawling on you while you sit in your cubicle at work can cause some awkwardness for you and everyone around you. I did make some embarrassing sounds that I was not able to sufficiently explain. Something along the lines of uuuugggggaaaaaaaaaahhhhhahhhhhhheeeeewwwwwwww. Thanks Edgar.

  29. 4 out of 5

    ✨Susan✨

    A classic from Poe, not my favorite as there was no connection to the character beyond his ability to think rationally and the tone of his fear. The Who, What and Why were not covered enough for me to care, however, still creepy.

  30. 4 out of 5

    molly

    hella freaky, read this for an gothic horror English task at school.

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