A story of Antioch set in a distant future, a way to mirror the beastliness of monarchs. Difficult to read, difficult to follow, with a hint of Orientalism burrowing in there.
The devil, who needs no eyes to see better than anyone, visits the pretentious corpulent philosopher and restaurateur Pierre Bob-Bon. The two have an evening’s conversation that sounds like an 1832 version of a Robin Williams appearance on Letterman: plenty of puns, jokes, one-upmanship, lots of drinking. The devil tells the increasingly drunk Pierre that he likes to eat souls, and has devoured those of Aristotle, Plato and Voltaire: de gustibus: the devil rejects Pierre’s offer of his own soul, not wanting to take advantage of a drunk man.
Broadway Journal, 1832, Tales, 1845
Neither of Jerusalem nor a tale, more like a Poe equivalent of a Saturday Night Live skit spoofing another story called “Zillah, a Tale of Jerusalem,” by Horace Smith, published in 1828. Three Jews are awaiting payment of some sort from Romans at Pompei–money or tasty meat of some sort. They get a hog instead, “the unutterable flesh.” Along the way the language is offensive, the portrayal of the Jews ridiculous, the whole setting anachronistic. But so is our reading: shorn of its Zillah context, it can’t possibly make sense, as so much of early Poe does not.
Broadway Journal, September 20, 1845
The title is funny but it’s downhill from there: duke dies, devil to a card game, wins and gets out of hell. The surplus of French lines is aggravating even to someone who reads French. Poe’s version of “The Devil Went Down to Georgia.”
Broadway Journal, October 11, 1845
Hungary. Two castles. Two rival families. Castle aflame, horse survives then takes first castle’s cruel baron into the flames. Not my cup of goth.
The Works of the Late Edgar Allen Poe (1850-56)