There is a writing style that makes it sometimes difficult to follow the stories but now and again there are a few pages of clarity that give a clear indication of the power of Poe’s gothic imagination. One of the stories read today is particularly dark and back in the days when I walked around in a pair of winkle pickers dressed all in black it would have appealed in a quite different way.
Highlights from The Assignation
An observer is drifting along in a gondola in Venice when he hears a scream and understands that a beautiful woman has dropped her baby out of the window into the water. People are diving in trying to help her but she is fixed on staring at the other side of the lake and a stranger dressed in black and retrieves her daughter from the depths and then makes as assignation with her. He also asks to meet the stranger who visits him in a luxurious house that is topped off with a full length portrait of the woman that was seen the night before. The stranger clearly loves the woman and then drinks deeply on a goblet and throws himself down on an ottoman. At that moment the door bursts open and a messenger shouts out that the beautiful woman is poisoned and checking on the stranger he turns out to have taken his own life as well.
A lovers pact to meet and be together in the hereafter?
Highlights from Ligeia
Talking of a pact to be together a man who has to watch as his wife Ligeia dies is heartbroken but carries on his life and marries again. His second wife starts to become ill and is convinced in the later stages of her illness that someone else is in the room and even her husband notices it. When she finally dies the corpse keeps returning to life every hour or so each time trying to get off the bed and finally it does and as the man looks for signs of recovery he sees that his first wife has returned.
A dark gothic tale of a spirit returning to take possession of the body of the woman who is married to her husband. You sense that the husband knows what is happening all along and welcomes the return of Ligeia.