Arguably his profoundest and gloomiest pasquinade, “King Pest the First: A Tale Containing an Allegory” has always baffled readers. In “King Pest,” Poe depicts an endless myriad of plagued and rotting bodies to such baroque excess that even one of the protagonists, Hugh Tarpaulin, cannot help but erupt into “a long, loud, and obstreperous roar of very ill-timed and immoderate laughter.” The primary purpose of this article is to examine this gross slice of Poe's humor and to explore the ways that it might disrupt and/or lend itself to his principles on aesthetic effect. The article uses the terms and conclusions of this reading, furthermore, to allegorize Poe's laughter in one of the most plagued regions of the early twenty-first century: the death world of war-torn Syria manufactured by a coalition of sovereign pests.

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