Short Stories on Wednesdays
is a weekly event hosted here, at Bread Crumb Reads
. The purpose of this event is to encourage people to read at least one short story a week. There are no limits, of course! If you have made a post on the short stories you’ve read this week, please do leave a link in the comments section. If you haven’t made a post, it does not matter. I’d still love to know what you’ve been reading. Just put the titles down in the comments section.
Only yesterday the Selected Tales of Edgar Allan Poe came to my doorstep. It is one of a few books my husband has gifted to me as an anniversary present. I couldn’t help but start flipping through the pages, and then immersing myself in the short stories. I haven’t read more than three, but they have been strange and fascinating to read. I’ll have to admit to some ignorance to many of the literary and art allusions, that I’m sure, had I known them, I would have appreciated the stories more. However, they are obviously not detrimental to the understanding of the stories on the whole.
The Duc De L’Omelette
The Duc de L’Omelette dies after choking on an olive. Three days after his death he comes face to face with the Devil himself. The duc tries to cross swords with the latter, but after learning that the Devil doesn’t fence, they gamble. The duc comes out as the winner. And the duc’s parting shot is rather funny (after I used the translator and figured what that comment meant!), and reminded me so much of the days of the Regency when the French were the leaders of fashion and social customs. If you’ve read Georgette Heyer, the Duc is rather reminiscent of the likes of the Duke(s) of Avon The Black Moth and These Old Shades, though highly French!
This short story is only about three pages long in my book, and is really a humourous read.However, I must confess, I had to read this story twice before I understood it. I suppose the reason why it went completely over my head the first time was because I was really tired at the time and too impatient to decipher the many French phrases and words. The second time is when I really fared well, and decided not to be lazy about using an online translator.
MS. Found in a Bottle
The narrator, a seaman, and a Swede, are the only survivors on a ship tossed about by a rather unnatural storm. For five days they rock along the highseas towards the south while the freak storm gets stranger and more supernatural by the day. On the sixth day their ship is hit by one that is much bigger. The Swede does not make it alive, but the narrator manages to survive, escaping into the cabins of the other ship. But its inhabitants are seemingly old me who never notice him even he stands in front of them and talks to them. From what I understood, this sixth day is an eternity, for the narrator says half way through…
We waited in vain for the arrival of the sixth day – that day to me has not yet arrived – to the Swede never did arrive.
We learn that the narrator manages to get his tale across only as a message in a bottle.
All I could see, while reading this short story, was a dull orange, read colour – hell, perhaps, with a stillness more terrifying than, perhaps, fire. The ship seems to be a ship of the damned. And yet everything is so numbingly quiet. This story gave me the chills, though slight, and left my sense suspended in a sort of expectation until the very last few lines that makes me wonder if that ship and the crew, along with the narrator, really did get lost in the whirlpool.
The narrator of this story witnesses a beautiful woman throwing her child into the currents of the Venetian Canals. He also witnesses its rescue by a young man who seems to know the woman. They exchange information on a day and time that the narrator overhears. Then, the young man hops onto the narrator’s gondola and invites him over to his house early in the morning. The narrator goes there and finds this man’s house full of collectibles, many of which are not particularly tasteful, but lots of others that are so familiar to the narrator. They talk while the latter explores the place, and then, the end.
Nope. It does not end with them talking, but I don’t want to give anything else away.
I did have something of a problem with this story, though. While I quite liked it, I found this particular one to be too full of allusions that quite escaped me, and felt, throughout the story, that I was missing a little something by not knowing exactly what these allusions were. Of course, I could sit with an online historical/literary dictionary and check through all of them – but there are too many and I’m an impatient woman. I was also puzzled about the young man. It would seem that his was a famous name. The narrator describes him in great detail…
The person of the stranger – let me call him by this title, who to all the world was still a stranger[...] In height he might have been below rather than above the medium size: although there were moments of intense passion when his frame actually expanded and belie the assertion. The light, almost slender symmetry of his figure promised more of that read activity which he evinced at the Bridge of Sighs, than of that Herculean strength which he has been known to wield without an effort, upon occasions of more dangerous emergency. With the mouth and chin of a deity – singular, wild, full. liquid eyes, whose shadows varied from pure hazel to intense and brilliant jet – and a profusion of curling black hair, from which a forehead of unusual breadth gleamed forth at intervals all light and ivory – his were features than which I have seen none more classically regular, except, perhaps, the marble ones of the Emperor Commodus.
A little later he says this man was an Englishman. Any ideas who this person could be? Or do you think Poe was just adding to the sense of mystery by reporting the fictional fame of this man?
Truly, I’m fast beginning to appreciate Poe’s skill as a short story writer and am looking forward to finishing this short story collection, acquired only yesterday, for the RIP Challenge. However, I’ll try not to make this a promise ’cause I never follow through on those!!
So then, what have you folk been reading this past week in the short story form?…