Some Words with a Mummy
"Some Words with a Mummy" is a satirical short story by Edgar Allan Poe. It was first published in The American Review: A Whig Journal of Politics, Literature, Art and Science in April 1845.
The story is regarded as featuring the earliest known image of a revived Egyptian mummy. In an 1852 anthology of Poe's works published in the UK, an illustration depicted a revived mummy. Poe and the illustrator challenged accepted racial stereotypes and European imperialism.
The narrator eats a very large amount of Welsh rabbit, accompanied by 'brown stout', and then goes to bed for a night's sleep. However, he is soon awakened and taken to Doctor Ponnonner's home to witness the unwrapping of a mummy.
They cut into the first sarcophagus, remove it and discover the mummy's name, Allamistakeo. The second and third sarcophagi are removed to reveal the body, placed in a papyrus sheath, covered in plaster and decorated with painting and gold gilt. After removing this, they examine the body. They find it to be in exceptionally good condition, although it does not seem to have been embalmed in the normal way as the skin is red and there are no incisions.
The doctor lays out instruments for the dissection, but the men suggest using electricity on the mummy and they begin preparations for this at once. The amount of electricity causes the mummy to awaken and condemn the men for their abuse. The men make their apologies to Allamistakeo, explain to him why they dissect mummies and the scientific importance of it. Satisfied with the explanation and their apologies Allamistakeo shakes hands with the men, who then proceed to patch up the damage caused by their incisions. They gather up proper clothes for Allamistakeo and sit down for cigars and wine.
Allamistakeo explains how he came to be a mummy – ancient Egyptians had a significantly longer life span than modern men, about one thousand years. They were also able to be embalmed – this process arrested the bodily functions allowing them to sleep through hundreds of years only to rise and go on with their lives centuries later. Allamistakeo again chastises the men for their ignorance of Egyptian history. He then explains that throughout time man has always been monotheistic – the pagan gods were symbols of the various aspects of the one true god. The men ask him, as he is over five thousand years old, if he knows anything about how the universe was created ten thousand years ago. Allamistakeo responds that no one during his time entertained the fantasy that the universe was ever created, but that it always existed, although, some believed that humans were created by spontaneous generation in a polygenic manner in different places. Finally, one of the men asks if the mummy was familiar with "the manufacture of either Ponnonner's lozenges or Brandreth's pills". To this Allamistakeo has to accept defeat and, in triumph, the men disperse. The narrator, having gone home and gone back to bed (or dreamt that he has done so), awakes the following morning, decides that he is unhappy with his own time and circumstances, and resolves to go to Ponnoner's to get embalmed for a couple hundred years. (from Wikipedia)
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