“The Tell-Tale Heart” was first published in 1843; it is one of Poe’s most famous short stories and even to this day it is regularly anthologized. The story is told in the first person and although right from the beginning the narrator tries to defend his sanity it is blatantly obvious that he is more than a little deranged. “The Tell-Tale Heart” is not just the story of a madman though; it is also the story of a murder. The narrator shared a house with an old man and after days of careful planning and preparation the narrator murdered him. Why? Apparently for no other reason than he did not like the old man’s ‘vulture eye.’
Although the narrator’s description of his crime is very detailed, much else in the story remains a mystery. The narrator never identifies himself and although it is usually presumed that this confession that masquerades as a declaration of sanity is coming from a man, it could just as easily be from a woman.
The relationship between the narrator and the old man also remains unexplained. Was the old man the narrator’s employer? A relative perhaps? Again, it is a mystery, but it does not matter and the lack of explanation does not spoil “The Tell-Tale Heart”, it is a short work and too much explanation might have diluted the impact of the story.
In this audiobook version of “The Tell-tale Heart” David Ian Davies voices the madman’s words. The runtime is about thirteen and a half minutes and Mr Davies tells the story very well indeed. I particularly enjoy the voice he uses for the old man and the echo effect added when he cries out “Who’s there?” adds a little extra creepiness. I also noticed that, as he tells the story, he gradually seems to become more and more unhinged and the way that Mr Davies does this really brings the story to life. The narrator is a madman and Davies makes him sound like a madman. I give him top marks for his telling of the story.