Next week’s story The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas by Ursula Le Guin

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Rated G

Roz Morris joined us this week to discus The Masque of the Red Death. She is an author, writing coach and public speaker. This story prompted a wonderful exchange on the definition of story given just how many rules this story breaks. Edgar Allan Poe was the granddaddy of Horror and Crime genre, and this was an interesting exploration both of the story and the experience of reading the precursor to several modern fiction forms. With flowery Gothic style and a modern feel, The Masque of the Red Death was a great choice for Literary Roadhouse.

Personally, I found researching Edgar Allan Poe deepened my enjoyment of the story. After writing this weeks Author Spotlight: Edgar Allan Poe, I would have rated the story a solid point higher. I hope the article does the same for you.

Don’t forget, to rate the story! For the history of our goofy system, see Anais’ post “Read Short Stories or Ray Bradbury Cries.” If you want to design a Bradberry, we’d love to see it. Y’all rated Axolotl by Julio Cortázar, 5.66 Bradberries.

So tell us, on a scale of 1-6 Bradberries, how do you rate The Masque of the Red Death? Tell us in the comments below or via voicemail, and we will give the final tally on the next episode.

Next we’re reading The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas by Ursula Le Guin

14 comments on The Masque of the Red Death – Edgar Allan Poe – Literary Roadhouse Ep 19

  1. Dylan Morra says:

    Since it is Edgar Allen Poe, I had a certain expectation like everyone else. I interpreted it differently, however. Thinking, maybe the red death didn’t infect people and kill them in a half hour and actually they’ve all been infected already. But once the symptoms appear… I had the notion that the clock was counting down for them, they even realized that too, I think. So every hour they would stop to make sure everything’s okay. And the red death was already there! They only just noticed it right before they died.

    If that was the case, then I think the crescendo could’ve been like this on purpose. The story kinda just died, just like people. They’re here for a while, and gone in an instant. And you’re just left…but then you die too anyways. Morbid right? Poe!

    It also occurred to me that he called all his companions dreams. And, since it is Poe, I might guess that it’s literal. Some lonely person is always going crazy. Everyone outside his castle already died, and Prospero’s just a crazy lonely fellow with a thousand imaginary friends! Otherwise he has a thousand friends who all think his bad taste is awesome.

    Aside from that, I think most people live in their own castle, filled with their own illusions. There’s other ways to get disillusioned… but Poe’s way I guess is to kill them.

    The ending was short though. It reminds me of when a someone’s drawing and they make this nice picture of a person. They admire it, then suddenly they get a red crayon and scribble all over it furiously and kill the guy in the picture! Seriously he made a nice scene and then got blood all over it.

    I give 5 Bradberries. I liked it and I plan on reading it again, and probably again, to make sure I didn’t overrate it. World War Z gets 3 bradberries. Actually, not even berries, it get 3 Bradberry Pitts.
    …..Thanks for the semi awkward shout-out! I feel so special.

  2. Dylan Morra says:

    Since it is Edgar Allen Poe, I had a certain expectation like everyone else. I interpreted it differently, however. Thinking, maybe the red death didn’t infect people and kill them in a half hour and actually they’ve all been infected already. But once the symptoms appear… I had the notion that the clock was counting down for them, they even realized that too, I think. So every hour they would stop to make sure everything’s okay. And the red death was already there! They only just noticed it right before they died.

    If that was the case, then I think the crescendo could’ve been like this on purpose. The story kinda just died, just like people. They’re here for a while, and gone in an instant. And you’re just left…but then you die too anyways. Morbid right? Poe!

    It also occurred to me that he called all his companions dreams. And, since it is Poe, I might guess that it’s literal. Some lonely person is always going crazy. Everyone outside his castle already died, and Prospero’s just a crazy lonely fellow with a thousand imaginary friends! Otherwise he has a thousand friends who all think his bad taste is awesome.

    Aside from that, I think most people live in their own castle, filled with their own illusions. There’s other ways to get disillusioned… but Poe’s way I guess is to kill them.

    The ending was short though. It reminds me of when a someone’s drawing and they make this nice picture of a person. They admire it, then suddenly they get a red crayon and scribble all over it furiously and kill the guy in the picture! Seriously he made a nice scene and then got blood all over it.

    I give 5 Bradberries. I liked it and I plan on reading it again, and probably again, to make sure I didn’t overrate it. World War Z gets 3 bradberries. Actually, not even berries, it get 3 Bradberry Pitts.
    …..Thanks for the semi awkward shout-out! I feel so special.

    1. Did you read World War Z? Highly recommended. The movie doesn’t seem to come from the same source material. It’s so different.

  3. Todd Williams says:

    I first discovered Poe when I was around ten and he has been one of my favorite authors since. I was really surprised to hear that this was Maya’s first Poe story; I wish I could experience that again! I was happy to hear that you liked it and thought it was really interesting that you’d felt his presence in modern fiction (makes sense!). He has many, many good stories- his “Hop-frog” may in fact be my favorite short story ever by anyone.

    I like the analogy of the coloured rooms representing different stages of life and the idea that “no one escapes” is beautifully illustrated by Red striding through all these rooms.
    While you touched on this “no one can escape death” angle during the podcast I don’t think you mentioned what I feel is the explicit moral of the story: that the social elite can’t hope to escape behind their wealth and privilege. To me that is what the story is about; a group of the rich leave the unwashed masses to die and hole up in an impregnable fortress because they ‘deserve’ to live. Of course Poe doesn’t agree!

    Sadly I imagine this is exactly what would happen today in the case of a real plague.

    5 Bradberries for me. (4 for being Poe, 1 for great imagery)

    1. "4 for being Poe" is the greatest justification of a rating we have seen so far. I may need to do it with LeGuin next week. I am already agonizing over what I recognize will be hard to digest about LeGuin’s technical writing style, and want to scream "But guys, guys, she’s a genius! You could write without spaces, punctuation, or capitalization andiwouldstillloveherforever."

      I think it’s interesting that you think the rich got their comeuppance. I expected comeuppance, but wasn’t satisfied by it. I saw their comeuppance as "they got to live 6 months longer, removed from the horrors of the world, having a grand time, then die quickly like everyone else." Perhaps I thirst for more blood in my just desserts and found this one lacking.

  4. Todd Williams says:

    I first discovered Poe when I was around ten and he has been one of my favorite authors since. I was really surprised to hear that this was Maya’s first Poe story; I wish I could experience that again! I was happy to hear that you liked it and thought it was really interesting that you’d felt his presence in modern fiction (makes sense!). He has many, many good stories- his “Hop-frog” may in fact be my favorite short story ever by anyone.

    I like the analogy of the coloured rooms representing different stages of life and the idea that “no one escapes” is beautifully illustrated by Red striding through all these rooms.
    While you touched on this “no one can escape death” angle during the podcast I don’t think you mentioned what I feel is the explicit moral of the story: that the social elite can’t hope to escape behind their wealth and privilege. To me that is what the story is about; a group of the rich leave the unwashed masses to die and hole up in an impregnable fortress because they ‘deserve’ to live. Of course Poe doesn’t agree!

    Sadly I imagine this is exactly what would happen today in the case of a real plague.

    5 Bradberries for me. (4 for being Poe, 1 for great imagery)

    1. "4 for being Poe" is the greatest justification of a rating we have seen so far. I may need to do it with LeGuin next week. I am already agonizing over what I recognize will be hard to digest about LeGuin’s technical writing style, and want to scream "But guys, guys, she’s a genius! You could write without spaces, punctuation, or capitalization andiwouldstillloveherforever."

      I think it’s interesting that you think the rich got their comeuppance. I expected comeuppance, but wasn’t satisfied by it. I saw their comeuppance as "they got to live 6 months longer, removed from the horrors of the world, having a grand time, then die quickly like everyone else." Perhaps I thirst for more blood in my just desserts and found this one lacking.

      1. Todd Williams says:

        I probably don’t need to recommend The Earthsea Trilogy to you… I found her style to be very visual in that (the description of the dragon on the raft in book 3 is breathtaking). I’m looking forward to reading "Omelas" again.

        The rich get one extra symptom that the poor don’t: the shattering of their belief in themselves. They get to die knowing they aren’t special at all. I think I see the message more as a warning to the rich than a gloating for the poor.
        If you want blood with your comeuppance, I have to recommend Hopfrog. There are dancing midgets in it so your mom might like it too 😉

        1. mconcepcion says:

          lol I never said I liked the dancing midgets, I was just pointing out how ridiculous this movie is! 🙂

  5. Maria Concepcion says:

    I really enjoyed the podcast, Anais pulled out her red pen to correct Edgar Allan Poe! 😀

    I think the long and short sentences add a certain rhythm to the story after all the main event is a masquerade ball. I had some difficulty with the flowery language in the first part of the story and for that reason I searched online for pictures of the rooms, and what I found…omg! What a gem!

    There’s a 1964 Vincent Price film very loosely based on the story. I know you enjoy my back stories, but in this film they really took it to a whole different level!

    Devil worshiping, orgy, dancing midgets (an old noble perv fantasizing about the adolescence ballet dancing midget). Prince Prosperous sleeps in a coffin, so he may also be a vampire! Really priceless!
    I could not watch the whole thing because I could not get over the bad acting, but here’s a link
    https://youtu.be/uCazBlhBs_Q

    I give this story a 3

    1. Todd Williams says:

      I must admit I had some difficulty with the technical analysis parts of the podcast..to a Poe fanboy that is like pointing out dangling prepositions in the Bible 🙂

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