Publisher Information: London: Short & Co., 1846.
Poe, Edgar Allan (1809-49). Mesmerism “in articulo mortis.” An astounding & horrifying narrative, shewing the extraordinary power of mesmerism in arresting the progress of death. 16pp. London: Short & Co., 1846. 213 x 138 mm. Without wrappers as issued; preserved in a cloth folding case. Light toning but a fine copy. Bookplate of American book collector Edward Hubert Litchfield (1879-1949).
First Separate Edition of Poe’s gruesome short story on the occult “powers” of mesmerism, originally published under the title “The facts in the case of M. Valdemar” in The American Whig Review of December 1845. “Poe plays with the idea that a dying person may be so imbued with magnetic fluid by a mesmerist that he can remain, although dead, in a kind of suspended death for months, until released by the mesmerist—at which point his body immediately turns into a pile of stinking, putrid slime. Taking it to be factual, people seriously debated whether such a horrifying use of mesmerism was possible, and condemned it on the assumption that it was” (Waterfield, Hidden Depths: The Story of Hypnosis, p. 146). “Mesmerism ‘in articulo mortis’” was the last of three mesmeric tales Poe wrote in 1844 and 1845; although these works “were essentially literary, it is also significant that these works were written in the style of scientific texts . . . Although Poe’s intentions remain somewhat ambiguous, leading some critics to suggest that he may have actually attempted to perpetrate a literary hoax, it is important to acknowledge that these works were published and received as legitimate contributions to the field of science, and thus they offer insight into the assumptions and expectations of the scientific community” (Enns, p. 65). Enns, “Mesmerism and the electric age: From Poe to Edison,” in Willis & Wynne, eds., Victorian Literary Mesmerism, pp. 61-82. Heartman & Canny, A Bibliography of the First Printings of the Writings of Edgar Allan Poe, p. 111.Book Id: 43625