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“The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar” by Edgar Allan Poe
Card picked: Queen of Diamonds
Thoughts: Our narrator, practitioner of mesmerism, decides to try a daring experiment: hypnotize a man at the moment of his death to see if it can be done and to perhaps stave off death. His patient is M. Valdemar, a man who the narrator has mesmerized in the past (although not to the greatest extent possible) and who is dying rather on schedule from tuberculosis. Our narrator succeeds in hypnotizing Valdemar on the moment of his death and keeps this mostly dead man in a trace-like state for seven months until Valdemar pleads for release.
There was no longer the faintest sign of vitality in M. Valdemar; and concluding him to be dead, we were consigning him to the charge of the nurses, when a strong vibratory motion was observable in the tongue. This continued for perhaps a minute. At the expiration of this period, there issued from the distended and motionless jaws a voice — such as it would be madness in me to attempt describing.
But of course Poe does describe it and a whole lot more. This is one of his more gruesome tales. When published, many readers took the story as fact. Poe truthfully, though rather quietly, admitted that the article was a hoax. The sensational aspect probably helped sell copies.
According to Wikipedia, at the time of the publication of “The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar,” Poe’s wife had been suffering from tuberculosis for four years and his older brother had already died of it. The writing was on the wall for Virginia. This mental exercise, concerning a method to postpone death, ends horribly. There’s no cheating death.