Saturday, April 30, 2011
Best Ghost Stories 1800-1850 Scary Story 34 of the Countdown
It's time to get back to my countdown of the Top 40 scary ghost stories from 1800-1849. Some of you may be wondering when Edgar Allan Poe will make in appearance in the countdown. Well, you do not have to wait any longer. At spot 34 in the countdown is Poe's best ghost story--Ligeia. The tale was first published in the September 1838 issue of the American Museum. In two volumes of the Broadway Journal that Poe gave to Sarah Helen Whitman, one of his fiancés, he noted a reference to “Ligeia” and “To Helen”: The poem which I sent you contained all the events of a dream which occurred to me soon after I knew you. Ligeia was also suggest by a dream. Observe the eyes in both tale & poem.
Poe gained ownership of the Broadway Journal for a three-month period (Oct. 25, 1845 – Jan. 3, 1846). It closed given financial troubles. As Poe proved time and time again throughout his life, he was a great literary artist and poor businessman. “Ligeia” is Poe at the height of his gothic powers. The narrator indulges in opium, the beautiful Ligeia dabbles in alchemy and her room is shaped like a pentagon. Best of all for our countdown, this tale ends in ghostly twist. Poe thought highly of it. You will be surprised to hear me say that (omitting one or two of my first efforts) I do not consider any one of my stories better than another. There is a vast variety of kinds and, in degree of value, these kinds vary–but each tale is equally good of its kind. The loftiest kind is that of the highest imagination– and, for this reason only, “Ligeia” may be called my best tale. In my view it was Edgar Allan Poe's best ghost story and perhaps his only ghost story. I argue that "Morella" is not a ghost story and neither is the creature in "The Masque of the Red Death," but rather a monster foretelling doom.