BOOK MARATHON: BOOK 1; THE MASQUE OF THE RED DEATH
I’m starting this fun thing, (I don’t know your definition of fun, but this is fun to me anyway) where I’ll run. Yes run, not in the Olympics though. I’m doing a Book marathon where I’ll be reading a book a day and post a review/summary on this blog. To start this week, I’ve selected seven books, short reads which can be read within one to ten hours. To begin the marathon, I’ve started with my most favorite writer, Edgar Allan Poe. I read this small book in less than an hour. A very interesting read if you’re a fan of E. A Poe’s genres.
BOOK: The Masque of The Red Death
AUTHOR: Edgar Allan Poe
FIRST PUBLISHED: 1842
PUBLISHER: Graham’s Magazine
Poe takes us to an un-named country which has been plagued by a disease. The disease known as ‘Red Death’. Read Death causes sharp pain, bleeding and dizziness. The narrator states that no disease has ever been as deadly as ‘Red Death’ in that country. To counter the disease, the leader of the country Prince Prospero decides to build walls and gates of iron to seclude his people and avoid contamination of the fatal disease.
In the fifth or sixth month after Red Death had attacked them, Prince Prospero held a masked ball within the walls and invited his friends who were entertained fully. There were clowns, musicians, ballet dancers and enough wine for his friends to enjoy. The ball is held in seven rooms. The narrator describes the rooms. He says; “The apartments were so irregularly disposed that the vision embraced but little more than one at a time. There was a sharp turn at every twenty or thirty yards, and at each turn a novel effect. To the right and left in the middle of each wall, a tall and narrow Gothic window looked out upon closed corridor which pursued the windings of the suite. These windows were of stained glass whose color varied in accordance with the prevailing hue of the decorations of the chamber into which it opened”. Each room is decorated with different colors. The room on the far East is decorated in blue and so has blue windows. This goes on as you move to the west. The 2nd, to 6th room have windows colored in purple, green, orange, white, violet and black respectively. The seventh room though is cloaked in black velvet tapestries and has scarlet (a deep blood color) windows. It’s different from the rest.
There’s a large clock of ebony in each of these rooms and after every hour, the clock rings prompting the music to cease and everyone to stop whatever they are doing for a moment. After the last ring at mid night, the crowd notices a masked figure who strikes the attention of everyone. The figure in question, the narrator says, “had out Heroded Herod and gone beyond the bounds of even the prince’s indefinite decorum” The figure was tall and gaunt, and dressed in grave clothing. When Prince Prospero saw the figure, he was angry and ordered that it be unmasked. Frightened, no one was willing to approach the figure. It is then that Prince Prospero resolves to go face the ‘intruder’. He walks through the room to the Western side where the figure is, as he pulls out his dagger to confront the figure, Prince Prospero dies. As the crowd comes in to the room to see what’s going on, they too one by one drop dead. It appeared the mysterious guest was the Red Death. “Darkness and Decay and the Red Death held illimitable dominion over all.” Concludes the narrator.
This book is seen as horror to some, bizarre, too much for the mind… I like it that way, Edgar Alan Poe style. Like in many of his stories, the author manages to grab my full attention, and take me to his world, where all the activities in this masterpiece occur. I had to take a deep breath after reading the story. Poe is a genius, and this piece of work is too riveting to read only once.