The Angel Of The Odd by Edgar Allan Poe, 1844
The magic trick:
Poe with humor
Fake news! Fake news today on the SSMT blog.
The narrator can’t believe the ridiculous stories he sees printed in the newspapers. Then a strange angel of the odd pays him a visit to teach him a lesson.
I’m pretty sure it’s not the same lesson taught by the Fake News of the Trump election. In truth, it’s not much of a lesson at all, but rather a laugh. This is Poe at the most humorous, an underrated talent of his.
Even in a comedy, things get pretty dark here – with cynical marriage attempts, broken bones and suicide attempts. But mostly, it’s just funny. A silly romp. One gets the impression that he made the story up as he went along, because he probably did. And that’s quite a trick on Poe’s part.
This accident, with the loss of my insurance, and with the more serious loss of my hair, the whole of which had been singed off by the fire, predisposed me to serious impressions, so that, finally, I made up my mind to take a wife. There was a rich widow disconsolate for the loss of her seventh husband, and to her wounded spirit I offered the balm of my vows. She yielded a reluctant consent to my prayers. I knelt at her feet in gratitude and adoration. She blushed, and bowed her luxuriant tresse into close contact with those supplied me, temporarily, by Grandjean. I know not how the entanglement took place, but so it was. I arose with a shining pate, wigless, she in disdain and wrath, half buried in alien hair. Thus ended my hopes of the widow by an accident which could not have been anticipated, to be sure, but which the natural sequence of events had brought about.
Without despairing, however, I undertook the siege of a less implacable heart. The fates were again propitious for a brief period; but again a trivial incident interfered. Meeting my betrothed in an avenue thronged with the elite of the city, I was hastening to greet her with one of my best considered bows, when a small particle of some foreign matter lodging in the corner of my eye, rendered me, for the moment, completely blind. Before I could recover my sight, the lady of my love had disappeared- irreparably affronted at what she chose to consider my premeditated rudeness in passing her by ungreeted. While I stood bewildered at the suddenness of this accident (which might have happened, nevertheless, to any one under the sun), and while I still continued incapable of sight, I was accosted by the Angel of the Odd, who proffered me his aid with a civility which I had no reason to expect. He examined my disordered eye with much gentleness and skill, informed me that I had a drop in it, and (whatever a “drop” was) took it out, and afforded me relief.
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