Edgar Allan Poe — “The Tell-Tale Heart”


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Commentary:

Characters:

  • Narrator (unnamed) - The narrator in this story is also the protagonist. In declaring that he is not mad, he instills in the reader the sense that he might indeed be mad, and confirms it as the story proceeds. Although his gender is not specifically identified, it is generally presumed as male.
  • The old man (unnamed) - A few commentators have suggested that the old man is the father of the narrator, some going so far as to hint at a connection to the difficult relationship between Poe and his foster father, John Allan. This suggestion, however, is not directly supported by a close reading of the tale and an understanding of the context in which it was written, and is, perhaps, too inclined towards psycho-biographical readings to be taken very seriously.
  • Police officers - Three officers who come in at the end of the story

Setting:

Location - Under development.

Date - Under development.

Summary:

Under development.


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Reading and Reference Texts:

Reading copy:


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Historical Texts:

Manuscripts and Authorized Printings:

  • Text-01 — “The Tell-Tale Heart” — about November 1842, no original manuscript or fragments are known to exist (but this version is presumably recorded in Text-02)
  • Text-02 — “The Tell-Tale Heart” — January 1843 — Pioneer — (Mabbott text A)
  • Text-03 — “The Tell-Tale Heart” — 1843-1845 — speculated revised copy of the Pioneer (Text-02), perhaps in anticipation of publication as Text-04. (These revisions are presumably recorded in Text-04. The changes between Text-02 and Text-04 are slight enough that a new manuscript is unlikely, but not so minor that they would reasonably have been made during typesetting or in correcting proofs for Text-04.)
  • Text-04 — “The Tell-Tale Heart” — August 23, 1845 — Broadway Journal — (Mabbott text B)
  • Text-05 — “The Tell-Tale Heart” — 1845-1849 — speculated revised copy of the Broadway Journal (Text-04), perhaps in anticipation of a new edition of Poe’s tales. (These revisions are presumably recorded in Text-06. The changes are slight enough that a new manuscript is highly unlikely, but not so minor that they would reasonably have been made during typesetting or in correcting proofs for Text-06. At least some of these changes are significant enough that they suggest the hand of the author rather than of Griswold as editor.)
  • Text-06 — “The Tell-Tale Heart” — 1850 — WORKS — (Mabbott text C)  (This is Mabbott’s copy-text)

 

Reprints:

  • “The Tell-Tale Heart” — January 6, 1843 — United States Gazette (noted by Poe Log, p. 395)
  • “The Tell-Tale Heart” — January 11, 1843 — New York Sun (noted as reprinted "From the Pioneers" [sic]) (A copy of this issue is in the Koester Poe Collection, Harry Ransom Center, Univerity of Texas at Austin)
  • “The Tell-Tale Heart” — January 25, 1843 — Dollar Newspaper (vol. I, no. 1, p. 1, cols. 6-7 and p. 2 col. 1) (The apparently unique copy of this issue is at the Maryland Historical Society. It is somewhat damaged at the bound edge.)
  • “The Tell-Tale Heart” — August 27, 1845 — Spirit of the Times
  • “The Tell-Tale Heart” — September 1, 1845 — Boston Daily Mail  (This reprint noted by K. Ljungquist, 1997, p. 195n24.)
  • “The Tell-Tale Heart” — December 20, 1845 — Boston Weekly Bee, pp. 1-2  (This reprint noted by K. Ljungquist, 1997, p. 195n24.)
  • “The Tell-Tale Heart” — November 5, 1857 — Weekly Patriot and Union (Harrisburg, PA) (p. 1) (this item is noted by George Monteiro, “Fugitive Reprints,” E. A. Poe Review, Fall 2010, p. 162.)
  • “The Tell-Tale Heart” — 1867 — Prose Tales of Edgar Allan Poe, first series (New York: W. J. Widdleton), pp. 382-387 (This collection is extracted from the 1850-1856 edition of Poe’s Works. It was reprinted several times.)
  • “The Tell-Tale Heart” — 1874 — Works of Edgar A. Poe, edited by J. H. Ingram, vol. 1, pp. 297-302 (This collection was subsequently reprinted in various forms)
  • “The Tell-Tale Heart” — September 17, 1898 — Hartford Courant (p. 13) (this item is noted by George Monteiro, “Fugitive Reprints,” E. A. Poe Review, Fall 2010, p. 162.)
  • “The Tell-Tale Heart” — October 18, 1911 — Fort Worth Star-Telegram (p. 4) (this item is noted by George Monteiro, “Fugitive Reprints,” E. A. Poe Review, Fall 2010, p. 162.)
  • “The Tell-Tale Heart” — Fall 1953 — Fantastic, (This magazine was one of the many cheaply produced pulps)
  • This story, as one of Poe’s most popular tales, has been widely reprinted and anthologized.

 

Scholarly and Noteworthy Reprints:

  • “The Tell-Tale Heart” — 1894-1895 — The Works of Edgar Allan Poe, vol. 2: Tales, ed. G. E. Woodberry and E. C. Stedman, Chicago: Stone and Kimball (2:55-61)
  • The Tell-Tale Heart” — 1902 — The Complete Works of Edgar Allan Poe, vol. 5: Tales IV, ed. J. A. Harrison, New York: T. Y. Crowell (5:88-94, and 5:319-320)
  • The Tell-Tale Heart” — 1978 — The Collected Works of Edgar Allan Poe, vol. 3: Tales & Sketches II, ed. T. O. Mabbott, Cambridge: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press (3:789-799)
  • “The Tell-Tale Heart” — 1984 — Edgar Allan Poe: Poetry and Tales, Patrick F. Quinn (New York: Library of America), pp. 555-559

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Comparative Texts:

Instream Comparative Texts:

 

Plain Text Files for Juxta:

  • None.

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Associated Material and Special Versions:

Miscellaneous Texts and Related Items:

  • “Le coeur accusateur” — April 30, 1854 — Chronique de France  (French translation by Paul Roger)
  • “Das klopfende Herz” — Oct. 23, 1855 — Bremer Sonntagsblatt, 38:300-302  (German translation by A. Malz, acknowledged as “Nach dem Englishchen des Poe von.”)
  • “[The Tell-Tale Heart]” — 1855 — Fortaellinger [Tales]  (Copenhagen)  (Danish translation, noted by Anderson, p. 14)
  • “Le coeur révélateur” — (French translation by Charles Baudelaire)
    • “Le coeur révélateur” — February 4, 1853 — Paris-Journal
    • “Le Plaidoyer d‘un fou” — July 29, 1854 — Le Pays
    • “Le coeur révélateur” — 1857 — Nouvelles histoires par Edgar Poe, Paris: Michel Lévy frères
  • “Et Hjertes Banken” — September 15, 1867 — Figaro  (Danish translation by Robert Watt, noted by Anderson, p. 15)
  • “[The Tell-Tale Heart]” — 1868 — Phantastiske Fortaellinger [Fantastic Tales], Copenhagen)  (Danish translation by Robert Watt, noted by Anderson, p. 15)
  • Le coeur mort qui bat” — 1880 — Le Désert, Limoges: Charles Barbou  (French translation by de Roul Bourdier)  (This is the only translation of a tale by Poe in this book. Otherwise, the book translates a work by Captain Mayne Reid.)
  • “Das verräterifche Herz; — 1890 — Seltsame Gesdichten, Stuttgart: Spemann  (Germanh translation by Alfred Mürenberg)
  • “Het Verraderlijke Hart” — about 1930 — Fantastische Vertellingen van Edgar Allan Poe, Haarlem: H. D. Tjeenk Willink & Zoon (Dutch translation by Machiel Elias Barentz, with elaborate illustrations by Albert Hahn, somewhat reminiscent of those by Harry Clarke)
  • “The Tell-Tale Heart” — March 29, 1936 — a radio show broadcast on the Terror by Night show. (As was often the case with dramatic presentations of Poe’s works, the story has been modified.)
  • “The Tell-Tale Heart” — July 11, 1937 — a radio show broadcast on theCBS Columbia Workshop show. (As was often the case with dramatic presentations of Poe’s works, the story has been modified.)
  • “The Tell-Tale Heart” — November 5, 1937 — a radio show broadcast on the Black Night show. This was a local show on WBAP, originating in Fort Worth, Texas (1937-1939). It starred Nelson Olmsted, who later achieved some fame for this spoken word recordings.
  • “The Tell-Tale Heart” — August 3, 1941 — a radio show broadcast on the Inner Sanctum show, starring Boris Karloff. (This episode is available on CD as part of a 6-CD set of “Smithsonian Legendary Performers,” issued in 2004. As was often the case with dramatic presentations of Poe’s works, the story has been modified. It this case, it is so heavily adapted that little of the original story remains, and much has been added, including names for the main characters, with Karloff as “Simon” and another actor as “Oliver,” the old man who is killed. The sponsor for the show is Carter’ Little Liver Pills.)
  • “The Tell-Tale Heart” — January 30, 1944 — a radio show broadcast on the Weird Circle show. (As was often the case with dramatic presentations of Poe’s works, the story has been modified.)
  • “The Tell-Tale Heart” — August 23, 1946 — a radio show broadcast on The Mercury Theater of the Air show, with Orson Welles.
  • “The Tell-Tale Heart” — January 14, 1950 — a radio show broadcast on The Hall of Fantasy show, introduced as “dedicated to the supernatural, the unusual and the unknown.” (As was often the case with dramatic presentations of Poe’s works, the story has been modified.) (This show as apparently rebroadcast on June 5, 1950.)
  • “The Tell-Tale Heart” — June 1951 — Classics Illustrated (number 84)  (a comic-book)
  • “The Tell-Tale Heart” — Fall 1952 — Fantastic, vol. 1, no. 2  (a pulp science fiction quarterly, with illustrations)
  • “The Tell-Tale Heart” — June 1, 1953 — a radio show broadcast on The Hall of Fantasy show, introduced as “dedicated to the supernatural, the unusual and the unknown.” (As was often the case with dramatic presentations of Poe’s works, the story has been modified.) Performers include Eloise Kummer. This show was rebroadcast on November 9, 1953.
  • “The Tell-Tale Heart” — 1953 — a UPA (United Productions of America) Technicolor cartoon, narrated by James Mason, and with music by Boris Kremenliev. It was animated by Pat Matthews, designed by Paul Julian, and distributed by Columbia Pictures.
  • “The Tell-Tale Heart” — 1956 — a reading by Nelson Olmsted on Edgar Allan Poe: Tales of Terror, issued on the Vanguard label (VRS-9007)
  • “The Tell-Tale Heart” — 1962 — a reading by Richard Taylor on Nightmare: Edgar Allan Poe, issued on the Random Records label (M-36, side B) (running time, about 13:44) (This is a very cheaply produced 33 1/3 LP, with a single narrator speaking over a very reverberant and somewhat off-key electric guitar played for atmosphere. The jacket features simple black and white graphics. The narrator, who has a surprisingly high voice and a detectable Brooklyn accent, is noted as being 21 at the time of the recording. This album was initially advertised for $1.98, and 25¢ for shipping and handling, while each of the remaining albums in the 4-album set was advertised for $2.98. The $1.98 price was apparently a typographical error and it appears to have been corrected in later printings. Side A is “The Pit and the Pendulum”)
  • “The Tell-Tale Heart” — 1966 — a reading by low-budget horror film producer William Castle on Edgar Allan Poe’s The Tell-Tale Heart, issued by Hanna Barbera (HLP-2056) (this item is an LP issued as part of a “cartoon series.” The cover features a very dramatic color drawing of the murderer having just killed the old man, and about to reach for an ax. At the bottom, it boasts that this is “THE MOST FRIGHTENING ALBUM EVER MADE.” The recording runs about 16:09.)
  • “The Tell-Tale Heart” — August 1, 1980 — a radio show broadcast produced for CBC (Toronto), with Henry Ramer as host. (As was often the case with dramatic presentations of Poe’s works, the story has been modified.) (The show was rebroadcast on March 7, 1982)
  • ”The Tell-Tale Heart” — September 29, 1998 — a radio show broadcast on the NPR Playhouse show, for the Radio Tales series. (As was often the case with dramatic presentations of Poe’s works, the story has been modified.) The show was produced by Winnie Waldron and Winifred Phillips. It debuted on XM Satellite Radio on December 27, 2003.
  • ”The Tell-Tale Heart” — October 31, 2004 — a radio show broadcast by Glenn Beck, for his Mercury Radio Arts production company (A fairly direct and unremarkable reading of the story, supplemented by some sound effects and touches of music, with a brief introduction and a few, mostly rather annoying, auditory effects. The reading has been released on CD-R, distributed by his own online store and thus presumably authorized.)
  • “The Tell-Tale Heart” — 2010 — Audio book, read by Chris Aruffo

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Bibliography:

  • Anderson, Carl L., Poe in Northlight: The Scandanavian Response to His Life and Work, Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1973.
  • Canario, John W., “The Dream in ‘Tell-Tale Heart’,” English Language Notes, March 1970, 7:194-197
  • Del Vecchio, Rosa Maria, “Into that Material Nihility”: Poe’s Criminal Persona as God-Peer, PhD disseration, Case Western University, 1994
  • Gargano, James W., “The Theme of Time in “Tell-Tale Heart’,” Studies in Short Fiction, Summer 1968, 5:378-382
  • Heartman, Charles F. and James R. Canny, A Bibliography of First Printings of the Writings of Edgar Allan Poe, Hattiesburg, MS: The Book Farm, 1943.
  • Krappe, E. S., “A Possible Source for Poe’s ‘Tell-Tale Heart’ and ‘The Black Cat’,” American Literature (March 1940), 12:84-88
  • Ljungquist, Kent P., “Some Unrecorded Reprints of Poe’s Works,” ANQ, Winter 1995, vol. 8, no. 1, pp. 20-22.
  • Ljungquist, Kent. P., “ ‘Valdemar’ and the ‘Frogpondians’: The Aftermath of Poe’s Boston Lyceum Appearance,” in Emersonian Circles: Essays in Honor of Joel Myerson, ed. Wesley T. Mott, Rochester: University of Rochester Press, 1997, pp. 181-206.
  • Mabbott, Thomas Ollive, ed., The Collected Works of Edgar Allan Poe (Vols 2-3 Tales and Sketches), Cambridge, Mass.: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1978.
  • Pollin, Burton R., “Bulwer Lytton and ‘Tell-Tale Heart’,” American Notes & Queries, September 1965, 4:7-8
  • Reilly, John E., “The Lesser Death-Watch and ‘The Tell-Tale Heart’,” American Transcendental Quarterly, 2nd Quarter 1969, 2:3-9
  • Robinson, E. Arthur, “Poe’s ‘Tell-Tale Heart’,” Nineteenth Century Fiction, March 1965, 19:369-378
  • Robinson, E. Arthur, “Thoreau and the Deathwatch in Poe’s ‘Tell-Tale Heart’,” Poe Studies, June 1971, 4:14-16
  • Senelick, Laurence, “Charles Dickens and ‘Tell Tale-Heart’,” Poe Studies, June 1973, 6:12-14
  • Solomont, Susan and Ritchie Darling, Four Stories by Poe, Norwich, VT: Green Knight Press, 1965
  • Weber, Jean-Paul, “Edgar Poe on the Theme of the Clock,” La Nouvelle Revue Francais (August-September 1958), 68:301-311 and 69:498-508.
  • Wyllie, John Cooke, “A List of the Texts of Poe’s Tales,” Humanistic Studies in Honor of John Calvin Metcalf, Charlottesville: University of Virginia, 1941, pp. 322-338.

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[S:0 - JAS] - Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - Works - Tales - The Tell-Tale Heart