Text: Various, “Marginalia,” Poe Newsletter­, January 1969, Vol. II, No. 1, 2.1:23


[page 23, column 2:]


This column is devoted to brief notes, comments, queries. We wish to provide here an outlet for such items as source notes which do not require the extended argument and proof that customarily attends them, and for items of very special or peculiar interest which otherwise might not appear. Contributions to this column should be one paragraph in form, not to exceed in length a page and a half of typescript, with all bibliographical citations enclosed in brackets.

“MS. Found in a Bottle” and The Folio Club

It is well known that Poe intended to publish the “Tales of the Folio Club” in book form, headed with the introduction printed by Harrison under the title of “The Folio Club.” This introduction ends on a sentence that, to my knowledge, has never been commented on: “Here Mr. Snap [the President of the Club], having pushed the bottle, produced a M.S. and read as follows” [Works, II, xxxix]. The five tales submitted to the Baltimore Saturday Visiter in 1833 were, according to Griswold, bound in “a little book”; but the only indication of their sequence that I know of is the list drawn by Griswold in “Memoir of the Author” in The Literati [New York: Redfield, 1850]. Here he asserts that Poe submitted “the pieces entitled ‘MS Found in a Bottle, ’ ‘Lionizing, ’ ‘The Visionary, ’ and three others” [p. xii]. This suggests that “MS. Found in a Bottle” directly followed the introduction and that its title recalled the last sentence of the introduction. I would be grateful to anyone who could confirm the position of the tale in the Folio Club series, for this in turn would strengthen speculation that “MS. Found in a Bottle,” like most of the Folio Club tales, is critical and burlesque, a clever parody of contemporary reports of imaginary travels, such as Sir Edward Seaward’s Narrative (1831) and Symzonia (1820).

Claude Richard, Université de Montpellier

“Silence” and the Folio Club: Who Were the “Psychological Autobiographists”?

The suspicion that all the Folio Club tales were burlesque, ironic, and critical in intent grows into conviction. The butt of the “poetic” Folio Club tale “Silence” would seem to be a school or fashion of writing which Poe labeled “the Manner of the Psychological Autobiographists” in the subtitles of the first two versions of the tale [Harrison, II, 380n]. I would be grateful for detailed information on this matter — other than speculation of a general nature: De Quincey is an obvious candidate, and James Southall Wilson [American Mercury, XXIV, 215-220] and Clark Griffith [UTQ, XXIV, 8-25] have suggested that the tale may be a satire on the American Transcendentalists, Bulwer, Coleridge, and De Quincey. Specifically, I should like to know if there was a “school” so named, especially on the Continent, or whether the phrase is Poe’s own coinage. Poe may well have struck off the phrase for general application, but I have reason to suspect otherwise. Certainly, the mixture of the weird and the burlesque so reminiscent of much Continental fiction of the time requires further commentary than that given by Wilson and Griffith. Perhaps the most suggestive comment on the tale recently is that of Eric W. Carlson [Introduction to Poe, p. 574n], who calls it an “existential allegory.” In support of this conceptual framework for the tale, two matters related to the Absurd may be mentioned: 1) In the tale a Demon laughs hysterically at man’s confusion before an absurd world of weird, shifting appearances; but a lynx (traditional companion of Bacchus, whose joviality paradoxically recalls the darker side of Dionysius) comes out of the (Platonic?) cave and stares steadily into the Demon’s face. 2) In the Marginalia [XVI, 161, followed by a note on the dreamlike quality of existence] Poe calls what seems to me can only be an ironic double-vision of existence “the philosophical lynxeye”; it is this “lynxeye” which, “through the indignity-mist of Man’s life, can still discern the dignity of Man.” An adequate reading of Poe’s tale would seem to depend on precise information about the affinities of the tale, either as serious imitation or as parody, with the Psychological Autobiographists.

G. R. Thompson, Washington State University


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[S:1 - PSDR, 1969]