Monday, October 27, 2014

"Why?" -- Because I Was Thirteen




Why?

That’s a quotation from these continued musings of the mad narrator of E A Poe’s “The Tell-Tale Heart.”





It’s also my thought when I peruse this bit from my thirteenth year, 1970.  This is nothing but a useless tag-along to the last bit of Poe’s vignette.

I suppose it’s a pretty good imitation (for an eighth-grader) of Poe’s style.  Instead of hearing the heartbeat exclusively, the narrator’s guilty conscience has increased the audio hallucinations to include the voice of the old man he murdered, his benefactor, asking “Why?” a lot.



I assume that this was considered a brilliant idea by the juvenile writer:  Lure the reader with stream-of-consciousness narration, then cut it off PAST THE POINT at which the narrator could be communicating with us.  (Unless he merely broke a leg and is continuing his monotonous rambling while high on morphine from a jail hospital bed.)

Looking back now, I assume that this idea was kyped from elsewhere (a familiar pattern, yes?).  About this time I read a library book, a novel of strange happenings that the reader wasn’t sure were happening or not (in that way, similar to John Fowles’ The Magus).  It was a first-person narrative (not The Magus but my barely-remembered library book).  This vaguely-recalled tome ended with the narrator being tied into a chair next to a booby-trapped telephone.  When the phone rang, a robotic arm would lift the receiver.  The only problem was, when the receiver was lifted, that action would detonate a room full of dynamite.

As I said, the narrator tells how he was tied in the chair.  PARAPHRASE:  “I was tied fast and could not escape.  Then the phone rang, and the mechanism lifted the receiver.”

THE END!  So -- if the guy is telling something that happened to him, how could he be telling us this, if he was going to be blown to smithereens?

In the same way, you, Dear Reader, are left to imagine how it’s possible that the narrator of my little wart-on-the-face-of-a-classic is able to end his tale thus.  I’m sure it’s more trouble than it’s worth to you.

But it was worthy of a one-day BLOG-O-WEEN entry!  see you tomorrow!

 

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