Review of A Cask of Amontillado by Edgar Allan Poe

March 19, 2010
Filed under: Reviews 

SFFaudio Review

Another short story! Will he ever stop?

Audiobooks - The Classic Tales PodcastThe Cask of Amontillado
By Edgar Allan Poe; Read by B.J. Harrison
17 Minutes – [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: The Classic Tales Podcast
Published: 2008
Themes: / Horror / Murder / Revenge / Pride / Bricklaying /

It must be understood, that neither by word nor deed had I given Fortunato cause to doubt my good will. I continued, as was my wont, to smile in his face, and he did not perceive that my smile now was at the thought of his immolation.

From the two birds, one stone department, this classic story by Edgar Allan Poe. I wanted to read it again because it is the first story covered in a Teaching Company course I bought a while back called Masterpieces of Short Fiction, taught by Michael Kransky. I selected this particular audio version because I like the stories I’ve heard on B.J. Harrison’s The Classic Tales Podcast, and expected that he’d be particularly good with this one. I wasn’t disappointed! Very well done.

I’m enamored with this story, and not because I’d like to brick someone in myself. It’s a perfect little story, and horrifying. An inner portrait of a murderer, who calmly does his thing, and is disturbingly resolute. At one point, Fortunato refuses to speak to him. All he hears is the jingling of the bells on the victim’s cap in the dark. The story works so well.

The Teaching Company lecture was good. I looked at the Wikipedia entry for “Cask” and learned that Poe wrote this story as a response to a rival named Thomas Dunn English. The explanation is very clear, and things like the wild masonic gesture made by Fortunato make sense in that context. The lecture didn’t mention that, even though the origin of the story was discussed. Kransky said that it’s origin lay in an anecdotal story that Poe heard about someone who got buried alive, combined with class envy. Does the Wikipedia article overstate the case? Something to look into.

I’d love a course on the science fiction short story. I wonder which stories should be included in such a course? Click here to see which stories Michael Kransky included in Masterpieces of Short Fiction.

And be sure to check out B.J. Harrison’s The Classic Tales. I got this story from Audible.com, which is where The Classic Tales go after they are podcast. Here’s the podcast feed:

http://classictales.libsyn.com/rss

Posted by Scott D. Danielson

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