Hop-Frog by Edgar Allan Poe, 1849
The magic trick:
Blending familiar, stock scenarios with original ideas
This is a strange story. In many ways it feels very familiar. There are good guys and bad guys. And the bad guys get it in the end. But in between such standard arrangements, there is a very original (at least I’m assuming it’s a Poe original) story. Hop-Frog has the king and his yes-men dress as orangutans? They get tied together and hung from the ceiling? It’s all very strange, yet strangely believable within the progression of the narrative. And that’s quite a trick on Poe’s part.
The masqueraders, by this time, had recovered, in some measure, from their alarm; and, beginning to regard the whole matter as a well-contrived pleasantry, set up a loud shout of laughter at the predicament of the apes.
“Leave them to me!” now screamed Hop-Frog, his shrill voice making itself easily heard through all the din. “Leave them to me. I fancy I know them. If I can only get a good look at them, I can soon tell who they are.”