A short commentary on M. Valdemar’s story

Illustration for The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar by Harry Clarke, 1919.

Not long ago, I had the chance to read another tale written by Edgar Allan Poe, one that is, perhaps, among his most graphic and gor-ish stories: The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar, which was originally published on December 1845 by The American Review and Broadway Journal.

This one is about a mesmerist, simply called “P,” who wants to see the effects of his hypnotic procedures in a body about to die. The sole idea is as scabrous as to put the hair on tip to anyone, but the real essence of this story is on the effects themselves.

I won’t tell anything to anything about this, but know that this short story is worse than any slasher movie, old or new, and I only recommend its reading if you like macabre ideas, gothic style and melancholic atmosphere.

With fast pace and well-known elements from the gothic literature, it is easy to enjoy and get into this sinister world created so long ago, where the limits between life and death are mixed, and that thin line dividing them becomes practically inexistent.

If anyone asks me, maybe Poe was trying to express his idea on how sacred our bodies are, and if you search a little on the topic, you’ll find that neo-paganism says the same, using the idea that this is our very own temple, our connection with the divine, and should be treated as such.

M. Valdemar, as I see it, had such a fate because of that disrespect he had with himself, how he allowed other people to control him, and that makes me think on another possible starting point for this story: what we become when others have control over us, our lives and our decisions.

As I said before, it has very graphic content, but leads to interesting ideas and concepts we wouldn’t have thought about otherwise. We all know how Poe’s life ended, and it’s a shame, but I can tell, just because of this short creation, that he had more things to show us.

The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar is a different, intriguing election for this month, much more on my style and aesthetic, that also gives a rest from that entire festive environment surrounding us all of a sudden. I’m sure some of you may think alike.

Alan D.D.
Writer and Journalist.

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