Monday, January 09, 2006
Tekeli-li to you, too
Today's book: "The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym" by Edgar Allan Poe. How could I never have heard of this before my brother gave me that Poe collection? It's hugely influential. I immediately recognized Richard Parker from "Life of Pi" (I also liked that the dog was named Tiger), and Lovecraft's polar monsters in "Mountains of Madness" shout "tekeli-li" in homage to Poe's savages. It's a bizarre story, though: A boy stows away on board ship, nearly smothering in the hold (very "Premature Burial") before coming up to find a bloody mutiny in progress. Violence and cannibalism ensue before he ends up on another ship bound for the South Pole. Rosie helpfully filled me in on some polar exploration history. This book was written in the 1830s, when nobody had a clue what was down there, so Poe is free to make stuff up - including savages with black teeth (very Peter Jackson) and antarctic polar bears. The narrative is frequently stalled by Arthur's swooning fits, but this is Poe so that's probably to be expected.