The Facts In the Case of M. Valdemar

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The Facts In the Case of M. Valdemar is a short story written by Edgar Allan Poe and first published in 1845. In it, the narrator, a mesmerist, explains how he was able to successfully put a dying man into a trance. For days after death, the corpse remains capable of speech and does not decompose. Poe did not initially claim this tale was fiction, and, knowing little about hypnosis and the details of death at the time, some people believed it was true until Poe later admitted it was a ruse. The book has an element that seems reused in Oscar Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray.

I first experienced this story as an audio book in December of 2017. Knowing how limited hypnosis was, and that real death means brain death, I knew that the story was either fictional or a hoax, so I wasn't very impressed with it.


I do not own this book, but I have read it and listened to an audio book recording.



  • Since the people of the 1800s still viewed mesmerism as as a legitimate phenomenon equivalent to magic, I can see how this story would have stirred both fear and intrigue at the time. Too bad for the story that science has progressed so far as to make it clearly fictional today.
  • The word use to describe the rapidly rotting corpse at the end is quite tangible.


  • The story, is pretty dark and grotesque. Not my kind of thing.
  • Nothing good comes out of it. I guess you could chalk it up to a "don't try to play god" moral, but I usually don't appreciate such psuedo-humility.


  • Nothing.