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Topic: Poe Discussion 3, October 24- The System of Dr. Tarr & Professor Fether

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Subject: Poe Discussion 3, October 24- The System of Dr. Tarr & Professor Fether
Date Posted: 10/2/2009 11:46 AM ET
Member Since: 6/19/2007
Posts: 5,931
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Our third Poe story is The System of Dr. Tarr & Professor Fether

Last Edited on: 10/23/09 11:07 AM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 10/24/2009 7:51 PM ET
Member Since: 2/21/2008
Posts: 1,899
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Loved it!  Loved it!  Loved it!

I know that I had read this story a long time ago, but I couldn't remember how it ended so it was a joy to read it again.  The descriptions were more vivid than Masque, yet I enjoyed them more because they were not so gloomy.  My favorite character was the woman who clucked like a chicken.  She gave herself away by talking about herself in the third person, but she just seemed like a character. 

Did anyone else have a hard time trying to find this sotry?  It wasn't in my copy of Great Works by Poe.  I had to go to the library downtown and rummage  all the Poe books there to find one that had this story.

Date Posted: 10/25/2009 12:02 PM ET
Member Since: 6/19/2007
Posts: 5,931
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I hope everyone was able to find it, its here http://classiclit.about.com/library/bl-etexts/eapoe/bl-eapoe-system.htm or there are a lot of other places online where you can find it for free too.  I wanted to pick a Poe story that was a little different and less well known.

Overall I really enjoyed Dr. Tarr, although it was definitely not one of Poe's masterpieces, IMO.  The black-comedy was a fun & refreshing change but the twist ending seemed like the kind of thing Poe didn't quite know how to pull off.  It read like a slightly clumsier O.Henry style short story.  I figured out what the twist was going to be well ahead of time, that made it less enjoyable.  Did anyone else? 

One interesting thing I read about the story was that the publishers delayed releasing it for a while because insane asylums and the treatment of the insane were controversial, hot-button issues at the time and they thought the story would be offensive.  I wonder what Poe's inentions were in that respect, do you think he cared about the treatment of the insane as an ethical question or was he just trying to tell a story?

Date Posted: 10/27/2009 2:31 AM ET
Member Since: 12/27/2007
Posts: 702
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This story wasn't in my Poe collection either, plus I had never read it.  Thanks for the online link.  I really did not like the story, however.  Perhaps I read it too fast, being onlne and not in my hands.  The concept was, perhaps, okay, but I thought that he went on and on when a reader already had the idea.  Perhaps if I read it again, I would find something in it to like better.  But...I seriously doubt that I will ever read it again. 

Date Posted: 10/27/2009 10:04 AM ET
Member Since: 8/20/2006
Posts: 1,930
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I liked this story. It is in keeping with his usual themes (madness or alcholism) but a little different also. I did look up a little about the story and found this on wiki:

Historical background

At the time this story was written, care for the insane was a highly political issue. People were calling for asylum reform at a time when the mentally ill were treated like prisoners. It is also during a time when increased acquittals due to the insanity defense was being criticized for allowing criminals to avoid punishment.

I believe Poe had to know he wasn't quite right in his mind . . . perhaps this was a "gee, if I ever get locked up I hope it is like this" story?

I read this story online also.