Saturday, October 20, 2012

Tales: The System of Doctor Tarr and Professor Fether


(originally published November 1845 in Graham’s Magazine)

This story begins as horror and ends on a humorous note. The narrator is out traveling with a recently-made acquaintance, and the route they take brings them near an insane asylum. The narrator has never been inside an insane asylum before, and his curiosity compels him to visit. The superintendent of the asylum explains to him that until very recently, the asylum employed the 'system of soothing'—a system wherein patients were not punished for anything and were allowed to roam the premises at will. This was decided too dangerous and the residents have since been subjected to a new and much stricter system. The narrator then sits down with the superintendent and thirty or so other people to a very extravagant meal. The superintendent claims these people are friends and staff at the asylum, but something is not quite right about them...

Summary written by Taylor Colegrove, May 2011. Title links to the full text of the story.

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