Some Words With a Mummy by Edgar Allan Poe (1850)
Tuesday’s Tale of Terror October 25, 2016
Mummies are not all that scary are they? These days we tend to poke fun at them with corny jokes (What did Pharaoh say when he saw the pyramid? “Mummy’s home.”). Poe may have been one of the first to create amusement at such dead things in this wackiest of his short stories.
The story begins with our narrator describing his dull evening at home, when a “furious ringing at the street-door bell, and then an impatient thumping at the knocker, which awakened me at once.”
This is the invitation he receives from Dr. Ponnonner:
“Come to me, by all means, my dear good friend, as soon as you receive this. Come and help us to rejoice. At last, by long persevering diplomacy, I have gained the assent of the Directors of the City Museum, to my examination of the Mummy — you know the one I mean. I have permission to unswathe it and open it, if desirable. A few friends only will be present — you, of course. The Mummy is now at my house, and we shall begin to unroll it at eleven to-night.”
Come to this “unwrapping party” and meet the mummy Count Allamistakeo. Even his name is cute! This mummy is not only revived but he can articulate. And the rest is history … Egyptian history that is. American vanity vs. Egyptology vs. science in full Poe style. This is one Poe story you might have missed.
No doubt Poe became inspired to write this adventure from when he observed a mummy on display in the Virginia State Capitol—at the age of 14, he was certainly impressed creatively.
If you really want a vintage literary experience, listen to the storytelling on audio: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GDH4RJNWXMg
Read the short story at Virginia.Edu:
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Halloween’s coming soon … and more ghostly literature for next week!
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