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the genre's premiere review magazine for short SF & Fantasy since 1993

The Case of M. Valdemar -- Edgar Allan Poe

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Weird Circle (1943-45) aired Edgar Allan Poe's "The Case of M. Valdemar" on February 9, 1945 as episode 71 of the series' 78 shows. Poe's original title was "The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar," and it ran simultaneously in December of 1845 in the Broadway Journal and American Review: A Whig Journal. The story is relatively short and quite descriptively gruesome, unlike the Weird Circle adaptation which switches Poe's victim from a man to a woman and forgoes Poe's horrific conclusion.

Nevertheless, this radio dramatization holds true to the gimmick around which both versions center: mermerism. Known today as hypnotism, the story asks the question, What would happen if a person at the point of death were to be mesmerized? Poe's story has Monsieur Valdemar dying of tuberculosis and agreeing to be hypnotized at the moment of his demise. He is kept "alive" for seven months, during which time all outer signs of life are nonexistent, save that he "speaks" through his bloated, blackened tongue. Eventually desiring true death, Valdemar convinces the mesmerist to end his life. As Valdemar is pulled from his death-trance his body shrinks and crumbles into a "nearly liquid mass of loathsome—of detestable putrescence." The story drew much comment from critics and Poe's contemporaries, including Elizabeth Barrett Browning and later Rudyard Kipling. Many readers took the story as factual, mesmerism being a new pseudo-science, with its effects yet to be fully explored.

Roger Corman adapted the story as the third segment of his 1962 film Tales of Terror, and George Romero adapted it as the first of two Poe stories in his 1990 film Two Evil Eyes (the other Poe tale being The Black Cat).

Along with the switch of the main character from a man to a woman, listen now to this second weekly installment of our run-up to Halloween to learn how Weird Circle invents its own nasty conclusion to "The Case of M. Valdemar."

Play Time: 25:21