Book Review – Four Beasts in One & Three Sundays in a Week by Edgar A. Poe

2017 Reading Challenge – No. 13 ~ A book with a number in the title

If you know Poe’s slightly more exclusive works, than you’ll know that the two titles I have chosen to review are not books at all. They would probably fall into the category of short story, or perhaps even essay they are so short. Before anyone cries cheater (or perhaps that is only my more critical side talking) I would like to say that this challenge is supposed to be focused on eliminating as much of my To-Be-Read bookcase as possible, and to be able to do that, I’ve had to take some liberties with the challenges. This would be one of those liberties. I do not have a novel with a number in the title, but I did have these two short stories as part of an anthology that I bought of Poe’s. To try and make myself feel a little less guilty about cutting corners, I read both. Still not more than 12 pages combined, I know, but I did what I could with what I had.

The other thing you might be yelling in your head is “You’re really going to review Poe?” And my answer to that is no, not really. I will certainly write about my thoughts on these two stories of his, but I’m not going to rate them or anything like that. To me, Poe is up there in a category all his own, one that does not warrant ratings.

Four Beasts in One – The Homo-Cameleopard is based upon the many stories told of Greek king Antiochus IV Epiphanes. The tales of his crazy and eccentric behavior carried on long after his death in 164 BC, so much so that it was not out of reason for Poe to base a story on him in 1833. Poe combined the history of the ancient monarch with some more current perceptions of France’s King Charles X and his gift of a giraffe from the Pasha of Egypt to create a story both grotesque and amusing.

The narrator talks to the reader directly, navigating a path through history to show some of the finer points of a brilliant spectacle of a parade, with animals leading the way for the mad king through a charged crowd towards the amphitheater. When the King Epiphanes finally makes his way behind his trained baboons, he is dressed as an animal himself, and crawling through the streets as if he has become one of his leopards.

True to Poe’s style, the short story ends with a dash of ruckus and mutiny as the outraged citizens, having had enough of the Kings craziness, charge the amphitheater and chase the monarch out of the city. Although it is a little hard to read technically, the way Poe is laid out this story is very entertaining. He finds a way to mix history with satire, creating a time-traveling tale that could easily be mistaken for truth.

Three Sundays in A Week is a fun little story Poe released in 1841 about a conniving old man trying to keep his daughter and his great-nephew from marrying, and therefore coming into a great inheritance. To put them off, he tells them they would be allowed to marry when there are three Sundays in a row. Thinking he was clever and had created a position that the two lovebirds would never be able to meet, he continues in his days without a care. Until, that is, two old companions come to visit, both of whom are sailors. As they are talking with the old man, the daughter, and the great-nephew, it comes about that there may be a solution to the couple’s troubles after all.

A silly rather than scary or macabre story, Poe deviates from what he is now known for. However, he is as clever and cunning in his telling as ever, and creates a brilliant little tale for an indulgent reader.

Are you a fan of Poe? What are some of your favorite tales or poems? Let me know in the comments below!

Here is my version of Poe’s complete works pictured above:

Edgar Allan Poe: Complete Tales and Poems (Fall River Classics)

To read more about my 2017 Reading Challenge, check my post 2017 Reading Challenge

Happy Reading!!



References used in writing this post:

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