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Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Brandy & cigars with a Mummy

Poe: Some words with a mummy
What if a Mummy sprang to life and started to talk to you? Edgar Allen Poe wrote a spoof of a "mummy unwrapping" in his short story Some Words with a Mummy. Egyptian mummies were shipped to the parlours of Europe so that the guests of the new owner could entice them with the formal unwrapping of the mummy.
Poe's story is summarized in Wikipedia. While unwrapping the mummy, a Voltaic cell is applied to various parts, and the current wakes up the mummy which is then given clothing, and they all sit down with the mummy and brandy and cigars.
Poe describes how the Mummy awakens:
 It was by his advice, accordingly, that we made, upon the spot, a profound incision into the tip of the subject's nose, while the Doctor himself, laying violent hands upon it, pulled it into vehement contact with the wire... the corpse opened its eyes and winked very rapidly for several minutes, in the second place, it sneezed; in the third, it sat upon end; in the fourth, it shook its fist in Doctor Ponnonner's face; in the fifth, turning to Messieurs Gliddon and Buckingham, it addressed them, in very capital Egyptian, thus: "I must say, gentlemen, that I am as much surprised as I am mortified at your behaviour."
A spirited conversation with the Mummy begins:
Edgar Allen Poe

Mr. Gliddon, therefore, gave him his arm, and led him to a comfortable chair by the fire, while the Doctor rang the bell upon the spot and ordered a supply of cigars and wine.
The conversation soon grew animated. Much curiosity was, of course, expressed in regard to the somewhat remarkable fact of Allamistakeo's still remaining alive.
"I should have thought," observed Mr. Buckingham, "that it is high time you were dead."
"Why," replied the Count, very much astonished, "I am little more than seven hundred years old! My father lived a thousand, and was by no means in his dotage when he died."
Poe finally wends his way home, but he has a plan:
The truth is, I am heartily sick of this life and of the nineteenth century in general. I am convinced that every thing is going wrong. Besides, I am anxious to know who will be President in 2045. As soon, therefore, as I shave and swallow a cup of coffee, I shall just step over to Ponnonner's and get embalmed for a couple of hundred years.
Poe does not mention what happened to the Mummy.

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