Though known for horror, mysteries, poetry and criticism, Poe also wrote a series of humorous or satirical short stories. They have not aged well; for the most part, they are awful. Here is an excerpt from one of them, ‘Lionizing’, considered to be less awful than most. The story is about a fantastic nose:
There was myself. I spoke of myself;—of myself, of myself, of myself;—of Nosology, of my pamphlet, and of myself. I turned up my nose, and I spoke of myself.
“Marvellous clever man!” said the Prince.
“Superb!” said his guests:—and next morning her Grace of Bless-my-Soul paid me a visit.
“Will you go to Almack’s, pretty creature?” she said, tapping me under the chin.
“Upon honor,” said I.
“Nose and all?” she asked.
“As I live,” I replied.
“Here then is a card, my life. Shall I say you will be there?”
“Dear Duchess, with all my heart.”
“Pshaw, no!—but with all your nose?”
–from ‘Lionizing’ (1835)
This is one of the best passages from the story, mildly entertaining for its absurd banter. But the repetitive wordplay soon grows tiresome.
Part morality tale, part bad joke with a really long set-up, part satire, this tale and others like were popular in the day. In this particular tale Poe satirizes a couple of other writers of the day; today no one remembers them, and any clever conceits are lost on the modern reader. And so while my posts about Poe usually encourage to go back and read his stuff, today I’m not. Today I’d just like everyone to know that Poe had many interests and many pursuits. Thank goodness his humorous writing wasn’t the only one, or he wouldn’t be remembered today.
The image is from illustrator Harry Clarke, circa 1933. Clarke actually created an illustration for this story in a collection of Poe’s tales. Here you can see a gentleman examining the narrator’s nose.