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Metzengerstein: A Tale in Imitation of the German was the first short story by American writer and poet Edgar Allan Poe to see print. It was first published in the pages of Philadelphia's Saturday Courier magazine, in 1832. Metzengerstein follows many conventions of Gothic fiction and, to some, exaggerates those conventions. There was a time long ago when some Hungarians believed that the soul of a human being could pass at death into the body of another creature, a phenomenon known as metempsychosis. Is such transmigration of the soul possible? For example, could the soul of a deceased person inhabit the body of a horse or a dog? On these questions, “I say nothing," the narrator asserts. But he goes on to tell a story that lends credibility to the belief. It concerns two very old aristocratic families that lived in the Holy Roman Empire when it included Germany and Hungary. These families, the Berlifitzings and the Metzengersteins, despised each other for centuries. At the time that the story unfolds, the hatred that passes between them is as strong as it ever was in past generations, for they are rivals for influence in the conduct of government. Moreover, they are neighbours–their estates running one against the other–and “near neighbours," the narrator says, “are seldom friends." Listen online to free English audiobook "Metzengerstein” on our website to experience Edgar Allan Poe's novel.

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