Friday, December 31, 2010

"The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar" Published 1845

"The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar" is a short story by American author Edgar Allan Poe about a mesmerist who puts a man in a suspended hypnotic state at the moment of death. An example of a tale of suspense and horror, it is also, to a certain degree, a hoax as it was published without claiming to be fictional, and many at the time of publication (1845) took it to be a factual account. Poe toyed with this for a while before admitting it was a work of pure fiction in his "Marginalia."

Plot summary

The narrator presents the facts of the extraordinary case of Valdemar which have incited public discussion. He is interested in Mesmerism, a pseudoscience involving bringing a patient into a hypnogogic state by the influence of magnetism, a process which later developed into hypnotism. He points out that, as far as he knows, no one has ever been mesmerized at the point of death, and he is curious to see what effects mesmerism would have on a dying person. He considers experimenting on his friend Ernest Valdemar, an author whom he had previously mesmerized, and who has recently been diagnosed with phthisis (tuberculosis).

Valdemar consents to the experiment and informs the narrator by letter that he will probably die in twenty-four hours. Valdemar's two physicians inform the narrator of their patient's poor condition. After confirming again that Valdemar is willing to be part of the experiment, the narrator comes back the next night with two nurses and a medical student as witnesses. Again, Valdemar insists he is willing to take part and asks the narrator to hurry, for fear he has "deferred it for too long." Valdemar is quickly mesmerized, just as the two physicians return and serve as additional witnesses. In a trance, he reports first that he is dying - then that he is dead. The narrator leaves him in a mesmeric state for seven months, checking on him daily. During this time Valdemar is without pulse, heartbeat or perceptible breathing, his skin cold and pale.

Finally, the narrator makes attempts to awaken Valdemar, asking questions which are answered with difficulty, his voice seemingly coming from his swollen, blackened tongue. In between trance and wakefulness, Valdemar's tongue begs to quickly either put him back to sleep or to wake him. As Valdemar's voice shouts "dead! dead!" repeatedly, the narrator takes Valdemar out of his trance; in the process, Valdemar's entire body immediately decays into a "nearly liquid mass of loathsome—of detestable putrescence."


Poe uses particularly detailed descriptions and relatively high levels of gore in "The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar," suggesting Poe deeply studied medical texts.[1] Valdemar's eyes at one point leak a "profuse outflowing of a yellowish ichor", for example, though Poe's imagery in the story is best summed up in its final lines: "...his whole frame at once — within the space of a single minute, or even less, shrunk—crumbled—absolutely rotted away beneath my hands. Upon the bed, before that whole company, there lay a nearly liquid mass of loathsome—of detestable putrescence." The disgusting imagery almost certainly inspired later fiction including that of H. P. Lovecraft.[2] Those final lines make up one of the most powerfully effective moments in Poe's work, incorporating shock, disgust, and uneasiness into one moment.[3] This ending shows that attempts to appropriate power over death will have hideous results[4] and, therefore, ultimately be unsuccessful.[5]

In Spanish, "Valdemar" roughly translates to "valley of the sea." The name suggests both solid and liquid states; this meaning is emphasized in the imagery in the story as Valdemar's body goes from its normal solid state to liquid in the final climactic lines.[6] Poe also uses teeth as a symbol; he typically uses teeth in his works to symbolize mortality. Other uses include the "sepulchral and disgusting" horse's teeth in "Metzengerstein," obsessing over teeth in "Berenice," and the sound of grating teeth in "Hop-Frog."[7]

Valdemar's death by tuberculosis, and attempts to postpone his death, may have been influenced by Poe's wife, Virginia.[2] At the time of this story's publication, she had been suffering from tuberculosis for four years.[1] Poe's extreme detail in "The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar" may have been based on Virginia's actual suffering.[6] Additionally, Poe may have been inspired by Andrew Jackson Davis, whose lectures on mesmerism he had attended.[8] Valdemar's death, however, is not portrayed sentimentally as Poe's typical theme of "the death of a beautiful woman" portrayed in other works such as "Ligeia" and "Morella." The death of this male character contrasts as brutal and sensational.[9]

Reception and critical response

Many readers thought the story to be a scientific report. Robert Collyer, an English magnetic healer visiting Boston, wrote to Poe saying that he himself had performed a similar act to revive a man who had been pronounced dead (in truth, the man was actually a drunk sailor who was revived by a hot bath). Another Englishman, Thomas South, used the story as a case study in his book Early Magnetism in its Higher Relations to Humanity in 1846.[10] Medical student George C. Eveleth wrote to Poe: "I have strenuously held that it was true. But I tell you that I strongly suspect it for a hoax."[11] A Scottish reader named Archibald Ramsay wrote to Poe "as a believer in Mesmerism" asking about the story. "It details... most extraordinary circumstances", he wrote, concerned that it had been labeled a hoax. "For the sake of... Science and of truth", he requested an answer from Poe himself. Poe's response: "Hoax is precisely the word suited... Some few persons believe it—but I do not—and don't you."[12] He received many similar letters, replying to one such letter from a friend, he added the succinct postscript: "P.S. The 'Valdemar Case' was a hoax, of course."[13] In the Daily Tribune, editor Horace Greeley noted "that several good matter-of-fact citizens" were tricked by it but "whoever thought it a veracious recital must have the bump of Faith large, very large indeed."[14]

Elizabeth Barrett Browning wrote to Poe about the story to commend him on his ability of "making horrible improbabilities seem near and familiar."[15] Virginia poet Philip Pendleton Cooke also wrote to Poe, calling the story "the most damnable, vraisemblable, horrible, hair-lifting, shocking, ingenious chapter of fiction that any brain ever conceived or hand traced. That gelatinous, viscous sound of man's voice! there never was such an idea before."[16] Literary critic and professor George Edward Woodberry said that the story "for mere physical disgust and foul horror, has no rival in literature."[17] Scholar James M. Hutchisson refers to the story as "probably Poe's most gruesome tale."[18]

Rudyard Kipling, an admirer of Poe, references "The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar" in his story "In the House of Suddhoo". The story suggests the disastrous results of sorcery in trying to save his sick son's life. One spell requires the head of a dead baby, which seems to speak. The narrator says, "Read Poe's account of the voice that came from the mesmerised dying man, and you will realise less than one half of the horror of that head's voice."[19]

Publication history

While editor of The Broadway Journal, Poe printed a letter from a New York physician named Dr. A. Sidney Doane which recounted a surgical operation performed while a patient was "in a magnetic sleep"; the letter served as inspiration for Poe's tale.[20] "The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar" was published simultaneously in the December 20, 1845, issue of the Broadway Journal and the December 1845 issue of American Review: A Whig Journal[8]—the latter journal used the title "The Facts in M. Valdemar's Case."[21] It was also republished in England, first as a pamphlet edition as "Mesmerism in Articulo Mortis" and later as "The Last Days of M. Valdemar."[22]


"The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar" was adapted into film in Argentina in 1960 as a segment of Masterpieces of Horror, first shown in the United States in 1965. It was also one of three Poe-inspired segments in the 1962 film Roger Corman-directed Tales of Terror.[8] It was later adapted by George A. Romero in Two Evil Eyes (1990). The radio drama series Radio Tales produced an adaptation of the story entitled "Edgar Allan Poe's Valdemar" (2000) for National Public Radio. The story was also loosely adapted into the black comedy The Mesmerist (2002).


1.^ Stashower, Daniel. The Beautiful Cigar Girl: Mary Rogers, Edgar Allan Poe, and the Invention of Murder. New York: Dutton, 2006: 275. ISBN 052594981X
2.^ Silverman, Kenneth. Edgar A. Poe: Mournful and Never-ending Remembrance. New York City: Harper Perennial, 1991: 294. ISBN 0060923318
3.^ Elmer, Jonathan. "Terminate or Liquidate? Poe Sensationalism, and the Sentimental Tradition" collected in The American Face of Edgar Allan Poe, edited by Shawn Rosenheim and Stephen Rachman. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1995: 116. ISBN 0801850258
4.^ Selley, April. "Poe and the Will" as collected in Poe and His Times: The Artist and His Milieu, edited by Benjamin Franklin Fisher IV. Baltimore: The Edgar Allan Poe Society, Inc., 1990: 97. ISBN 0961644923
5.^ Hutchisson, James M. Poe. Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 2005: 158. ISBN 1-57806-721-9
6.^ Meyers, Jeffrey. Edgar Allan Poe: His Life and Legacy. New York City: Cooper Square Press, 1992: 179. ISBN 0815410387
7.^ Kennedy, J. Gerald. Poe, Death, and the Life of Writing. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1987: 79. ISBN 0300037732
8.^ Sova, Dawn B. Edgar Allan Poe: A to Z. New York City: Checkmark Books, 2001: 85. ISBN 081604161X
9.^ Elmer, Jonathan. "Terminate or Liquidate? Poe Sensationalism, and the Sentimental Tradition" collected in The American Face of Edgar Allan Poe, edited by Shawn Rosenheim and Stephen Rachman. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1995: 108. ISBN 0801850258
10.^ Silverman, Kenneth. Edgar A. Poe: Mournful and Never-ending Remembrance. New York City: Harper Perennial, 1991. ISBN 0060923318 p. 294–295
11.^ Phillips, Mary E. Edgar Allan Poe: The Man. Chicago: The John C. Winston Company, 1926: 1189.
12.^ Phillips, Mary E. Edgar Allan Poe: The Man. Chicago: The John C. Winston Company, 1926: 1188–1189.
13.^ Quinn, Arthur Hobson. Edgar Allan Poe: A Critical Biography. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1998: 529. ISBN 0801857309
14.^ Thomas, Dwight & David K. Jackson. The Poe Log: A Documentary Life of Edgar Allan Poe, 1809–1849. Boston: G. K. Hall & Co., 1987: 603. ISBN 0816187347
15.^ Quinn, Arthur Hobson. Edgar Allan Poe: A Critical Biography. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1998. p. 484. ISBN 0801857309
16.^ Meyers, Jeffrey. Edgar Allan Poe: His Life and Legacy. New York City: Cooper Square Press, 1992: 179-180. ISBN 0815410387
17.^ Phillips, Mary E. Edgar Allan Poe: The Man. Chicago: The John C. Winston Company, 1926: 1075.
18.^ Hutchisson, James M. Poe. Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 2005: 157. ISBN 1-57806-721-9
19.^ Meyers, Jeffrey. Edgar Allan Poe: His Life and Legacy. Cooper Square Press, 1992: 291. ISBN 0815410387
20.^ Thomas, Dwight & David K. Jackson. The Poe Log: A Documentary Life of Edgar Allan Poe, 1809–1849. Boston: G. K. Hall & Co., 1987: 498. ISBN 0816187347
21.^ Quinn, Arthur Hobson. Edgar Allan Poe: A Critical Biography. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1998: 470. ISBN 0801857309
22.^ Quinn, Arthur Hobson. Edgar Allan Poe: A Critical Biography. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1998: 516. ISBN 0801857309

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Deathday: Author Theodore Dreiser 1945

Theodore Herman Albert Dreiser (August 27, 1871 – December 28, 1945) was an American novelist and journalist. He pioneered the naturalist school and is known for portraying characters whose value lies not in their moral code, but in their persistence against all obstacles, and literary situations that more closely resemble studies of nature than tales of choice and agency.[1]

Early life

Dreiser was born in Terre Haute, Indiana, to Sarah and John Paul Dreiser, a strict Catholic family. John Paul Dreiser was a German immigrant from Mayen in the Eifel region, and Sarah was from the Mennonite farming community near Dayton, Ohio; she was disowned for marrying John and converting to Roman Catholicism. Theodore was the twelfth of thirteen children (the ninth of the ten surviving). The popular songwriter Paul Dresser (1859–1906) was his older brother.

From 1889 to 1890, Theodore attended Indiana University before dropping out.[citation needed]. Within several years, he was writing for the Chicago Globe newspaper and then the St. Louis Globe-Democrat. He wrote several articles on writers such as Nathaniel Hawthorne, William Dean Howells, Israel Zangwill, John Burroughs, and interviewed public figures such as Andrew Carnegie, Marshall Field, Thomas Edison, and Theodore Thomas[2]. Other interviewees included Lillian Nordica, Emilia E. Barr, Philip Armour and Alfred Stieglitz[3]. After proposing in 1893, he married Sara White on December 28, 1898. They ultimately separated in 1909, partly as a result of Dreiser's infatuation with Thelma Cudlipp, the teenage daughter of a work colleague, but were never formally divorced.[4]

In 1919 Dreiser met his cousin Helen Richardson with whom he began an affair[5] with sado-masochistic elements.[6] They eventually married on 13 June 1944.[5]

Literary career

His first novel, Sister Carrie (1900), tells the story of a woman who flees her country life for the city (Chicago) and falls into a wayward life. It sold poorly, but it later acquired a considerable reputation. (It was made into a 1952 film by William Wyler, which starred Laurence Olivier and Jennifer Jones.)

He was a witness to a lynching in 1893 and wrote the short story, "Cracker," which appeared in Ainslee's Magazine in 1901.[7]

His second novel, Jennie Gerhardt, was published in 1911. Many of Dreiser's subsequent novels dealt with social inequality. His first commercial success was An American Tragedy (1925), which was made into a film in 1931 and again in 1951 (as A Place in the Sun). Already in 1892, when Dreiser began work as a newspaperman he had begun "to observe a certain type of crime in the United States that proved very common. It seemed to spring from the fact that almost every young person was possessed of an ingrown ambition to be somebody financially and socially." "Fortune hunting became a disease" with the frequent result of a peculiarly American kind of crime, a form of "murder for money," when "the young ambitious lover of some poorer girl" found "a more attractive girl with money or position" but could not get rid of the first girl, usually because of pregnancy.[8] Dreiser claimed to have collected such stories every year between 1895 and 1935. The murder in 1911 of Avis Linnell by Clarence Richeson particularly caught his attention. By 1919 this murder was the basis of one of two separate novels begun by Dreiser. The 1906 murder of Grace Brown by Chester Gillette eventually became the basis for An American Tragedy.[9]

Though primarily known as a novelist, Dreiser published his first collection of short stories, Free and Other Stories in 1918. The collection contained 11 stories. A particularly interesting story, "My Brother Paul", was a brief biography of his older brother, Paul Dresser, who was a famous songwriter in the 1890s. This story was the basis for the 1942 romantic movie, "My Gal Sal".

Other works include The "Genius" and Trilogy of Desire (a three-parter based on the remarkable life of the Chicago streetcar tycoon Charles Tyson Yerkes and composed of The Financier (1912), The Titan (1914), and The Stoic). The latter was published posthumously in 1947.

Dreiser was often forced to battle against censorship because of his depiction of some aspects of life, such as sexual promiscuity, offended authorities and popular opinion.

Political commitment

Politically, Dreiser was involved in several campaigns against social injustice. This included the lynching of Frank Little, one of the leaders of the Industrial Workers of the World, the Sacco and Vanzetti case, the deportation of Emma Goldman, and the conviction of the trade union leader Tom Mooney. In November 1931, Dreiser led the National Committee for the Defense of Political Prisoners to the coalfields of southeastern Kentucky, where they took testimony from coal miners in Pineville and Harlan on the violence against the miners and their unions by the coal operators.[10]

Dreiser was a committed socialist, and wrote several non-fiction books on political issues. These included Dreiser Looks at Russia (1928), the result of his 1927 trip to the Soviet Union, and two books presenting a critical perspective on capitalist America, Tragic America (1931) and America Is Worth Saving (1941). His vision of capitalism and a future world order with a strong American military dictate combined with the harsh criticism of the latter made him unpopular within the official circles. Although less politically radical friends, such as H.L. Mencken, spoke of Dreiser's relationship with communism as an "unimportant detail in his life," Dreiser's biographer Jerome Loving notes that his political activities since the early 1930s had "clearly been in concert with ostensible communist aims with regard to the working class." [11]

Dreiser died on December 28, 1945 in Hollywood at 74.


Dreiser had an enormous influence on the generation that followed his. In his tribute "Dreiser" from Horses and Men (1923), Sherwood Anderson writes:

Heavy, heavy, the feet of Theodore. How easy to pick some of his books to pieces, to laugh at him for so much of his heavy prose ... [T]he fellows of the ink-pots, the prose writers in America who follow Dreiser, will have much to do that he has never done. Their road is long but, because of him, those who follow will never have to face the road through the wilderness of Puritan denial, the road that Dreiser faced alone.

Alfred Kazin characterized Dreiser as "stronger than all the others of his time, and at the same time more poignant; greater than the world he has described, but as significant as the people in it," while Larzer Ziff (UC Berkeley) remarked that Dreiser "succeeded beyond any of his predecessors or successors in producing a great American business novel." Arguably, Dreiser succeeded beyond any of his predecessors or successors in producing the great American novel.

Renowned mid-century literary critic Irving Howe spoke of Dreiser as "among the American giants, one of the very few American giants we have had."[12] A British view of Dreiser came from the publisher Rupert Hart-Davis: "Theodore Dreiser's books are enough to stop me in my tracks, never mind his letters — that slovenly turgid style describing endless business deals, with a seduction every hundred pages as light relief. If he's the great American novelist, give me the Marx Brothers every time."[13]

One of Dreiser's strongest champions during his lifetime, H.L. Mencken, declared "that he is a great artist, and that no other American of his generation left so wide and handsome a mark upon the national letters. American writing, before and after his time, differed almost as much as biology before and after Darwin. He was a man of large originality, of profound feeling, and of unshakable courage. All of us who write are better off because he lived, worked, and hoped."[14]

Dreiser's great theme was the tremendous tensions that can arise among ambition, desire, and social mores.

In 2008, the Library of America selected Dreiser’s article “Dreiser Sees Error in Edwards Defense” for inclusion in its two-century retrospective of American True Crime.


Sister Carrie (1900)
Old Rogaum and His Theresa (1901)
Jennie Gerhardt (1911)
The Financier (1912)
The Titan (1914)
The "Genius" (1915)
Free and Other Stories (1918)
Twelve Men (1919)
An American Tragedy (1925)
Chains: Lesser Novels and Stories (1927)
A Gallery of Women (1929)
The Bulwark (1946)
The Stoic (1947)


Plays of the Natural and Supernatural (1916)
The Hand of the Potter (1918), first produced 1921


A Traveler at Forty (1913)
A Hoosier Holiday (1916)
Hey Rub-a-Dub-Dub: A Book of the Mystery and Wonder and Terror of Life (1920)
A Book About Myself (1922); republished (unexpurgated) as Newspaper Days (1931)
The Color of a Great City (1923)
Dreiser Looks at Russia (1928)
My City (1929)
Tragic America (1931)
Dawn (1931)
America Is Worth Saving (1941)


1.^ Van Doren, Carl (1925). American and British Literature since 1890. Century Company.
2.^ Yoshinobu Hakutani, 'Preface', in Theodore Dreiser, Selected Magazine Articles: v.1: Life and Art in the American 1890's: Vol 1, Fairleigh Dickinson University Press,U.S., 1985, p. 10
3.^ Donald Pizer Pizer, Theodore Dreiser: Interviews, University of Illinois Press, 2005, p. xiii [1]
4.^ Newlin, Keith (2003). A Theodore Dreiser Encyclopedia. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 78. ISBN 0-313-31680-5. 
5.^ Newlin, Keith (2003). A Theodore Dreiser Encyclopedia. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 101. ISBN 0-313-31680-5.
6.^ Shorter, Edward (2005). Written in the flesh: a history of desire. University of Toronto Press. p. 216. ISBN 0802038433.
7.^ Anne P. Rice (2003). Witnessing lynching: American writers respond. Rutgers University Press. p. 151–170. ISBN 9780813533308.
8.^ [2]
9.^ Fishkin, Shelley Fisher (1988). From Fact to Fiction. Oxford University Press.
10.^ Theodore Dreiser et al., Harlan Miners Speak: Report on Terrorism in the Kentucky Coal Fields (Harcourt, Brace and Co., 1932; rpt. Da Capo Press, 1970).
11.^ Jerome Loving, The Last Titan: A Life of Theodore Dreiser. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2005. ISBN 0520234812, ISBN 9780520234819. P. 398.
12.^ Rodden, John (2005). Irving Howe and the Critics: Celebrations and Attacks. Nebraska U.P..
13.^ Hart-Davis (ed). Lyttelton/Hart-Davis Letters, Vol 4 (1959 letters), John Murray, London, 1982. ISBN 0719539411, Letter dated 30 August 1959
14.^ Riggio, Thomas P., "Biography of Theodore Dreiser,", Accessed March 22, 2008
Cassuto, Leonard and Clare Virginia Eby, eds. The Cambridge Companion to Theodore Dreiser. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004.
Loving, Jerome. The Last Titan: A Life of Theodore Dreiser. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2005.

An American Tragedy (Signet Classics)Sister Carrie (Enriched Classics)The FinancierTheodore Dreiser : Sister Carrie, Jennie Gerhardt, Twelve Men (Library of America)A Place in the SunThe Last Titan: A Life of Theodore Dreiser

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Happy Holidays at Hollywood Forever Cemetery

Torture Garden (1967) "The Man Who Collected Poe"

Torture Garden is a 1967 British horror film made by Amicus Productions. It was directed by Freddie Francis and scripted by Robert Bloch. It stars Burgess Meredith, Jack Palance, Michael Ripper, Beverly Adams, Peter Cushing, Maurice Denham, Ursula Howells, Michael Bryant and Barbara Ewing. The score was a collaboration between Hammer horror regulars James Bernard and Don Banks.

It is one of producer Milton Subotsky's trademark "portmanteau" films, an omnibus of short stories linked by a single narrative.


Five people visit a fairground sideshow run by the sinister Dr. Diabolo (Meredith). Having shown them a handful of haunted-house-style attractions, he promises them a genuinely scary experience if they will pay extra. Their curiosity gets the better of them, and the small crowd follows him behind a curtain, where they each view their fate through the shears of the female deity Atropos (Clytie Jessop).

In "Enoch", a greedy playboy (Bryant) takes advantage of his dying uncle (Denham), and falls under the spell of a man-eating cat. In "Terror Over Hollywood," a Hollywood starlet (Adams) discovers her co-stars are androids. In "Mr. Steinway," a possessed grand piano by the name of Euterpe becomes jealous of its owner's new lover (Ewing) and takes revenge. And in "The Man Who Collected Poe," a Poe collector (Palance) murders another collector (Cushing) over a collectable he refuses to show him, only to find his fate with Edgar Allan Poe himself.

Torture Garden


Jack Palance as Ronald Wyatt
Burgess Meredith as Dr. Diabolo
Beverly Adams as Carla Hayes
Peter Cushing as Lancelot Canning
Michael Bryant as Colin Williams
Barbara Ewing as Dorothy Endicott
John Standing as Leo
John Phillips as Storm
Michael Ripper as Gordon Roberts
Bernard Kay as Dr. Heim
Maurice Denham as Uncle Roger
Ursula Howells as Miss Chambers
David Bauer as Charles
Niall MacGinnis as Doctor

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

"The Man of the Crowd" Published 1840

"The Man of the Crowd" is a short story written by Edgar Allan Poe about a nameless narrator following a man through a crowded London, first published in 1840.

Plot summary

The story is introduced with the epigraph, "Ce grand malheur, de ne pouvoir être seul"—a quote taken from The Characters of Man by Jean de la Bruyère. It translates to Such a great misfortune, not to be able to be alone. This same quote is used in Poe's earliest tale, "Metzengerstein."[1]

After an unnamed illness, the unnamed narrator sits in an unnamed coffee shop in London. Fascinated by the crowd outside the window, he considers how isolated people think they are, despite "the very denseness of the company around." He takes time to categorize the different types of people he sees. As evening falls, the narrator focuses on "a decrepit old man, some sixty-five or seventy years of age," whose face has a peculiar idiosyncrasy, and whose body "was short in stature, very thin, and apparently very feeble" wearing filthy, ragged clothes of a "beautiful texture." The narrator dashes out of the coffee shop to follow the man from afar. The man leads the narrator through bazaars and shops, buying nothing, and into a poorer part of the city, then back into "the heart of the mighty London." This chase lasts through the evening and into the next day. Finally, exhausted, the narrator stands in front of the man, who still does not notice him. The narrator concludes the man is "the type and genius of deep crime" due to his inscrutability and inability to leave the crowds of London.[2]


According to the text of the tale, the reason for the narrator's monomaniacal obsession with the man stems from "the absolute idiosyncrasy of [the man's] expression". He is the only person walking down the street the narrator can't categorize.[2] Why the narrator is so haunted by him is not entirely clear, though it is implied that the two men are two sides of the same person, with the old man representing a secret side of the narrator,[3] though the narrator is unable to see this.[4] The old man may be wandering through the crowd in search of a lost friend or to escape the memory of a crime.[5] The possible evil nature of the man is implied by the dagger that is possibly seen under his cloak[4] - whatever crime he has committed condemns him to wander.[1] This lack of disclosure has been compared to similar vague motivations in "The Cask of Amontillado".[6] Poe purposely presents the story as a sort of mystification, inviting readers to surmise the old man's secret themselves.[4]

At the beginning of the tale, the narrator surveys and categorizes the people around him in a similar way as Walt Whitman in "Song of Myself." Poe's narrator, however, lacks Whitman's celebratory spirit.[7] While viewing these people, the narrator is able to ascertain a great deal of information about them based on their appearance and by noting small details. For example, he notices that a man's ear sticks out a small amount, indicating he must be a clerk who stores his pen behind his ear. Poe would later incorporate this ability to observe small details in his character C. Auguste Dupin.[8]

The setting of London, one of the few specific details revealed in the tale, is important. By 1840, London was the largest city in the world with a population of 750,000.[9] Poe would have known London from the time he spent there as a boy with his foster family, the Allans,[1] although he may have relied on the writings of Charles Dickens for details of London's streets.[2] In this story and others, Poe associates modern cities with the growth of impersonal crime.[10]

Publication history

The story was first published simultaneously in the December 1840 issues of Atkinson's Casket and Burton's Gentleman's Magazine. The latter was the final issue of that periodical.[1] It was later included in Wiley and Putnam's collection simply titled Tales by Edgar A. Poe.[11]


1.^ Sova, Dawn B. Edgar Allan Poe: A to Z. New York City: Checkmark Books, 2001: 147. ISBN 081604161X
2.^ Sweeney, Susan Elizabeth (2003). "The Magnifying Glass: Spectacular Distance in Poe's "Man of the Crowd" and Beyond". Poe Studies/Dark Romanticism 36 (1-2): 3.
3.^ Sova, Dawn B. Edgar Allan Poe: A to Z. New York City: Checkmark Books, 2001: 148. ISBN 081604161X
4.^ Kennedy, J. Gerald. Poe, Death, and the Life of Writing. Yale University Press, 1987: 118. ISBN 0300037732
5.^ Quinn, Arthur Hobson. Edgar Allan Poe: A Critical Biography. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1998: 310. ISBN 0801857309
6.^ Hoffman, Daniel. Poe Poe Poe Poe Poe Poe Poe. Louisiana State University Press, 1972: 245. ISBN 0807123218
7.^ Person, Leland S. "Poe and Nineteenth-Century Gender Constructions," collected in A Historical Guide to Edgar Allan Poe, edited by J. Gerald Kennedy. Oxford University Press, 2001: 158. ISBN 0195121503
8.^ Stashower, Daniel. The Beautiful Cigar Girl: Mary Rogers, Edgar Allan Poe, and the Invention of Murder. New York: Dutton, 2006: 113. ISBN 052594981X
9.^ Meyers, Jeffrey: Edgar Allan Poe: His Life and Legacy. New York: Cooper Square Press, 2000: 115. ISBN 0815410387
10.^ Kennedy, J. Gerald. "Introduction: Poe in Our Time" collected in A Historical Guide to Edgar Allan Poe. Oxford University Press, 2001: 9. ISBN 0195121503
11.^ Quinn, Arthur Hobson. Edgar Allan Poe: A Critical Biography. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1998: 464–466. ISBN 0801857309

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Deathday: Wyatt Earp's Wife Josie Marcus 1944

Josephine Sarah Marcus (born ca. 1861 - died December 19, 1944) was an American actress and professional dancer who became best known as the wife of famed Old West lawman and gambler Wyatt Earp. According to United States Census records, Marcus was born in the state of New York about 1861, although the exact date and city of her birth are not known. Marcus was known alternately by either "Josie" or "Sadie."

Early life

The middle child of four, Marcus moved with her family to San Francisco when she was young. Her baker-father, Henry, and her mother, Sophia, were both Jewish immigrants from Prussia; it is not known when they arrived in the United States. The Marcus household also included siblings Nathan (born about 1857) and Henrietta (born about 1863).

At the age of 18, Marcus and friend Dora Hirsh ran away to join a theatrical company, where the two were hired as dancers. As members of Paulina Markham's traveling theater company, Marcus and Hirsh travelled throughout the west, including Arizona Territory. Records show that the Markham troupe reached Tombstone in December 1879, after which they headed north to Prescott.
Johnny Behan and Tombstone, Arizona

During their trip to Prescott, Josie met Johnny Behan (above), then a Yavapai County sheriff's deputy. At the time of the troupe's trek to Prescott, Behan was travelling the same route, following the trails of three fugitive robbers. Marcus caused quite a stir in Behan's heart, and he left the pursuit in order to spend time getting to know the woman with whom he had fallen in love. Soon after arriving in Prescott, however, Marcus became homesick and returned to San Francisco.

Johnny Behan followed her, in order to ask her to marry him. Marcus declined, and he returned to Arizona. Marcus, however, soon returned to Tombstone, where she lived with a lawyer while working as a housekeeper for Behan and his ten year old son, Albert. This version of her return has been disputed, as some believe that she was really living with Behan all along after her return to Tombstone, while other versions indicate she was working as a prostitute with the lawyer acting as her pimp.
In the midst of their romantic relationship, Behan continued to see other women, a fact known by most, including Marcus. She wrote a letter to her father, who sent her $300 for a return to San Francisco. Rather than leaving Tombstone, Marcus was instead convinced by Behan to use the money to build a house for them. In addition to using her father's money, Josie pawned a diamond ring in order to complete the construction.

Relationship with Wyatt Earp

In 1881, Behan became involved in a serious romantic relationship with another woman and Marcus then left him for good, becoming enamored instead with Wyatt Earp (above). Behan suffered public embarrassment because of this; in Tombstone, everyone thought that Marcus and Behan were legally married. Her breakup with Behan and her arrival into Wyatt's life were publicized by the Tombstone Epitaph, the leading local newspaper. To add to the scandal, Earp was in a common-law marriage with Mattie Blaylock since 1873. It is reported that the two women had at least two verbal altercations over the affair between Josie and Wyatt Earp.

Gunfight at the OK Corral

The embarrassment suffered by Behan was one of many factors that may have contributed to the gunfight at the O.K. Corral. Numerous other events between Wyatt Earp and Ike Clanton, and others of the Clanton gang, actually sparked the gunfight; the feud between Behan and Earp was little more than a side show. On October 26, 1881, Josephine Marcus was at her home when she heard the sound of gunfire. Taking a wagon in the direction of the shots, Marcus, to her relief, saw Earp uninjured.

Later life

By 1882, Marcus had adopted the name of "Josephine Earp," although no official record of their marriage exists. Following what has been dubbed as the Earp vendetta ride, Marcus and Earp travelled through various western states hunting for gold and silver. It is also said that they ran horse races in San Diego as well as operating saloons in Idaho and Alaska. Earp and Marcus became a gambling team during this period. She became friends with millionaire Lucky Baldwin, from whom she received money in return for her jewelry. Eventually, Marcus would give almost all of her jewelry to Baldwin in exchange for gambling money.

Earp biographer, Stuart Lake, learned that Wyatt and Josephine were hostile to each other during their relationship when he went to collaborate with Wyatt on his autobiography. In the course of writing the Earp biography, Lake learned some other aspects of Marcus' life. Wyatt became critically ill in late 1928 and died on January 13, 1929. Before Wyatt's biography was released soon after his death, Josephine traveled to Boston, Massachusetts, in an attempt to convince the publisher to stop the release of the book.

Much later, in 1939, Josephine tried to stop 20th Century Fox from making a film based on the book, Wyatt Earp: Frontier Marshal. Under the condition that Wyatt's name be removed from the title, the movie was later released, as Frontier Marshal.

In Los Angeles, Marcus became friends with many celebrities, including Cecil B. DeMille and Gary Cooper. She received part of the money made by Stuart Lake's book about her husband as well as royalties from the movie Frontier Marshal. Josephine also wrote her own book entitled I Married Wyatt Earp; The Memoirs of Josephine Sarah Earp. She approached several publishers for the book, but backed out several times due to their insistence that she be completely open and forthcoming, rather than slanting her memories to her favor. It was later printed, but many parts of the book were refuted as being fictional and inaccurate by Virgil Earp's wife, Allie. Ownership of the book, following Josephine's death, eventually fell to Glenn Boyer, following his obtaining rights from the relatives of Josephine Earp.[1]

Josephine Earp spent her last years in Los Angeles, where she suffered from depression and other illnesses. One of her few consolations toward the end of her life was the correspondence she kept with Johnny Behan's son, Albert Behan, whom she had grown to love as her own son.

Josephine Sarah Marcus died on December 20, 1944 in Los Angeles, California; she was believed to be in her early 80s, perhaps 83. Her body was cremated and buried next to Wyatt's remains in Colma, California in the Marcus family plot at the Hills of Eternity Memorial Park. Her parents and brother are buried nearby.

Cultural Depictions and Literature

I Married Wyatt Earp (1984) - played by Marie Osmond
Tombstone (1993)- played by Dana Delany
Wyatt Earp (1994) - played by Joanna Going
I Married Wyatt Earp: The Recollections of Josephine Sarah Marcus Earp;(author) Josephine Sarah Marcus Earp and; (editor) Glenn W. Boyer; University of Arizona Press, 1976
She appears as 'Sadie,' a character in The Nightjar Women, a novella included in Merkabah Rider: Tales of a High Planes Drifter; (author) Edward M. Erdelac; Damnation Books, 2009


1.^ Josephine Sarah Marcus Earp (1976-08). I Married Wyatt Earp: The Recollections of Josephine Sarah Marcus Earp. University of Arizona Press. ISBN 0816505837.


Josephine Sarah Marcus Earp. I Married Wyatt Earp: The Recollections of Josephine Sarah Marcus Earp; ed. Glenn W. Boyer; University of Arizona Press, 1976. ISBN 0-8165-0583-7.
I Married Wyatt Earp: The Recollections of Josephine Sarah Marcus EarpWyatt and Josie Earp's CookbookGunman's RhapsodyWyatt Earp (Two-Disc Special Edition)Wyatt Earp: The Life Behind the LegendWyatt Earp [Blu-ray]Famous Gunfighters of the Western Frontier: Wyatt Earp, Doc Holliday, Luke Short and OthersBiography - The Earp Brothers: Lawmen of the WestWyatt Earp: Frontier MarshalWyatt EarpInventing Wyatt Earp: His Life and Many LegendsTombstoneI Married Wyatt Earp: The Recollections of Josephine Sarah Marcus Earp