The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar
Genre: Short Story
- Date of entry: Feb-22-1999
- Last revised: Aug-21-2006
A doctor has become fascinated by mesmerism. He is curious to see what would happen to an individual put under hypnosis while dying. Would it stave off death? Would dying make hypnosis impossible? A friend agrees to be the subject of this experiment.
Seven months later, the doctor is called to the dying man’s bedside. As the patient’s breath and heartbeat slow, the doctor successfully hypnotizes him. The dying man feels no pain and responds to questions without rising from his trance. He asks the doctor not to wake him, but to let him die without pain. The next day, the patient’s eyes roll upward, his cheeks lose their color, and his mouth falls open. The man is apparently dead.
As they prepare him for burial, however, the tongue begins to vibrate and a minute later, answers the question the doctor put to the patient just before his death. "Yes; - no; - I have been sleeping - and now - now - I am dead," says the corpse. The amazed doctors leave the patient in exactly the same state for seven months. Finally, they resolve to wake him. As he begins to wake, the doctor asks what the patient’s wishes are. The dead man cries out that he is dead and must be awakened. The doctor wakes him and the corpse immediately falls apart into "a nearly liquid mass of loathsome - of detestable putridity."
Collected Works of Edgar Allan Poe, Vol. III
Harvard Univ. Press
Thomas Ollive Mabbott