Yet as it lies some distance from any of the main roads, being in a somewhat out-of-the-way situation, there are perhaps very few of my readers who have ever paid it a visit. For the benefit of those who have not, therefore, it will be only proper that I should enter into some account of it. And this is indeed the more necessary, as with the hope of enlisting public sympathy in behalf of the inhabitants, I design here to give a history of the calamitous events which have so lately occurred within its limits. No one who knows me will doubt that the duty thus self-imposed will be executed to the best of my ability, with all that rigid impartiality, all that cautious examination into facts, and diligent collation of authorities, which should ever distinguish him who aspires to the title of historian.
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It was first published in In an isolated town called Vondervotteimittiss wonder-what-time-it-is , the punctilious inhabitants seem to be concerned with nothing but clocks and cabbage. This methodical, boring and quiet little borough is devastated by the arrival of a devilish figure playing a big fiddle who comes straight down from a hill, goes into the belltower, brutally attacks the belfry-man and rings thirteen o'clock, to the horror of the town's inhabitants.
The devil character can be seen as the bringer of chaos to an ordered system. In the context of the story, the devil is a troublemaker who destroys the serenity of tradition. However, in that Poe mocks the town's ridiculous traditions, it can be interpreted that the devil is a violent force of change, originality and creativity in an otherwise stagnant environment. Some have claimed the story to be political satire making fun of the United States President Martin Van Buren , who was of Dutch descent like the inhabitants of Vondervotteimittis.
However, aside from Dutch caricatures used for humor, the story does not seem to mock any particular target. In A Companion to Poe Studies it is noted, "Poe introduced numerous details to make contemporaries think of the president. But the story is not therefore a political satire, for Poe said such stories hit out in all directions Moreover, Poe's literary play, his pleasure at creating connections, seems more important than is any single 'target' of satire.
There are many famous illustrations for this short tale, including one is by the Italian engraver Alberto Martini , which is very accurate in describing the final moment, and another by the Belgian artist James Ensor , which illustrates the moment when the stranger arrives in town.
The story was first published in the May 18, , issue of Philadelphia 's Saturday Chronicle and Mirror of the Times. Between and or , French composer Claude Debussy worked on a one-act opera based on "The Devil in the Belfry", Le diable dans le beffroi.
This short opera was to be presented with La chute de la maison Usher , another one-act opera based on Poe's The Fall of the House of Usher. For his adaptation of "The Devil in the Belfry", Debussy said he wanted to create "a happy blending of the real and the fantastic".
His version of the devil, he said, would "put an end to the idea that the devil is the spirit of evil. He is simply the spirit of contradiction. The story was also the subject of an opera by Italian composer Adriano Lualdi , premiered in From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Short story by Edgar Allan Poe. A Companion to Poe Studies. Greenwood Press, Edgar Allan Poe: A to Z. Checkmark Books, The Devil in the Belfry. Edgar Allan Poe.
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The Devil in the Belfry
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I did enjoy his word play immensely. The Devil in the Belfry is currently in the Public Domain. This text can now be legally distributed as the work was published before and the author died in therefore the 70 year extension has expired. Within this short story is an underlying satirical political jab, so to speak, at the former president. His version of the devil, he said, would "put an end to the idea that the devil is the spirit of evil.
I was not sure what to expect from this tale, having neither read it before nor heard of it until I happened across it in my anthology. It is a very short parable about deviation and disruption of order, and the chaos that ensues as a result. The story is set in a town called Vondervotteimittiss. Touching the derivation of the name Vondervotteimittiss, I confess myself, with sorrow, equally at fault.