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Saturday, October 11, 2014

"The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar" by Edgar Allan Poe

First appeared in The American Review. Reprinted by J. Walker McSpadden, Hugo Gernsback, V. H. Collins, Dennis Wheatley, Herbert A. Wise, Phyllis Fraser, John L. Hardie, Judith Merril, Elizabeth Lee, Charles Higham, Herbert van Thal, Noah D. Fabricant, M.D., Groff Conklin, H. Bruce Franklin, Robert Aickman, Lee Wright, Richard G. Sheehan, Leo P. Kell, ey, Peter Haining, Kurt Singer, Eric S. Rabkin, Mary Danby, Stuart David Schiff, J. A. Cuddon, Tim Haydock, Al Sarrantonio, Martin H. Greenberg, Stephen Jones, Mary Hill, Rebecca K. Rizzo, Gary Crew, Aaron Polson, Jean M. Goldstrom, Andrew Barger, and Otto Penzler. 
Doctors hypnotize a dying man and prolong his life.
Commentary & spoilers:
The dying/dead man begs to be killed. He dies as soon as the hypnotism is removed.

This is actually a problem that continues into the present although less so than it once was. Doctors prolong life to what end? I can't find the article now, but a doctor, who often prolonged life with cancer treatments, chose no therapy for himself. It is an assumption that people should live and keep wanting to live. We don't necessarily consider this scientist mad. Unless we hate our fathers, most of us like Dylan Thomas want our fathers to "rage against the dying of the light."

In this case, Poe pushed the case further. The man is dead. The doctor has exceeded his jurisdiction over life. For an instant, the doctor is mad and joins the ranks of mad scientists, but he does let the man die.

There might also be a case for the tale discussing about the letting-go of loved ones.

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