The Collected Works of Edgar Allan Poe (1969 and 1978)


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The most comprehensive and authoritative collection of Poe’s poetry and tales was edited by Thomas Ollive Mabbott (1898-1968). Although some questions were raised in regard to Mabbott’s selection of copy-texts, the edition has long been ensconced as a standard reference for Poe scholarship. Mabbott seems to have been preparing to publish a complete collection of Poe’s works for over forty years, beginning about 1923. Originally, it was referred to as the Columbia Poe because he expected it to be published by Columbia University Press. (TOM had been been an undergraduate student at Columbia, and continued his studies there, receiving a Master of Arts in 1921 and a PhD. in 1923.) By 1958, the intended publisher has switched to Harvard University Press. (A contract for the first volume was signed on May 12, 1958. A contract for volumes II and III was signed on March 7, 1973.)

TOM, as he was widely known (playfully signifying both his initials and the casual form of his first name), retired from Hunter College in 1966, with the expectation of at last being able to focus on completing the edition. While preparing the first volume for publication, however, he was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer, and he died on May 15, 1968. Even through his illness, he was able to proof more than half of the galleys for the volume of poetry, and the rest were proofed by his wife (Maureen Cobb Mabbott), by the Harvard University Press editor (Eleanor Kewer), and several of TOM’s assistants, including George Egon Hatvary and Patricia Edwards Clyne. Mrs. Mabbott spent nearly another decade refining his notes and preparing the two volumes of the Tales and Sketches, with the help of several editorial assistants. The remainder of Mabbott’s research material was then made available to Burton R. Pollin, to continue the edition, which proceeded to include another five volumes, but still remained uncompleted at the time of Dr. Pollin’s death in 2009. (Pollin’s edition was initially published by Twayne and subsequently by Gordian Press, under the series title of The Collected Writings of Edgar Allan Poe.)

The collection of Mabbott’s papers and other material related to his research on Poe may be found at the University of Iowa.

The Collected Works of Edgar Allan Poe (The Mabbott Edition) (1969 and 1978)

 

The following text appears on the inside front flap of the dust jacket of the volume of Poems:

THE talents of Edgar Allan Poe as poet, critic, and story-teller are universally recognized and there has long been a need for a complete collection of his writings. The body of his known works has increased considerably since 1902, when an attempt was made to present an unabridged edition. Poems is the first in a new Collected Works of Edgar Allan Poe.

It is particularly appropriate that this first volume be a collection of his poems. Poe was, says Mr. Mabbott in his introduction, a poet by choice. He began to write verse in boyhood and continued until the end of his life. Although in quantity the actual product is small, the proportion of excellence is surprisingly high. Poe’s powers never waned. His first book published when he was only eighteen contained at least one very fine poem, “The Lake.” At the age of 22 he composed “Israfel” — a masterpiece even in its unrevised version — and in the last rear of his life, the famous “Annabel Lee.”

In order that the edition be as complete as possible, Mr. Mabbott chose to disregard Poe’s famous aesthetic definition of poetry as “the rhythmical creation of beauty,” and consider every formally versified composition as a poem. He includes in this volume, chronologically by date of composition, all the poems known to be Poe’s as well as several probably by Poe for which final proof is lacking. Each poem is treated as a separate entity and is accompanied by comments on its history, its sources, major critical opinions, a list of all known texts authorized by Poe, and variant readings from all authorized texts. There is also a list of 111 poems ascribed to Poe which Mr. Mabbott firmly rejects. A valuable appendix mentions, year by year, the significant events in Poe’s life and frequently offers conclusive documentation about questions that have nettled scholars for the past hundred years.

 

The following text appears on the inside back flap of the dust jacket of the volume of Poems and of both volumes of the Tales and Sketches:

For more than a generation Thomas Ollive Mabbott has been known as the outstanding Poe scholar in America. Nearly every serious book on Poe published since the later 1920’s carries somewhere an acknowledgement of his help, and shortly before his death on May 15, 1968, the Poe Newsletter referred to him as “the only total Poe scholar” among us. The vast accumulation of material, textual information, and critical notes that he gathered is of immeasurable value to the study of Poe.

Publishing a comprehensive scholarly edition of the works of Poe was the dream of Mr. Mabbott’s youth and the unremitting labor of his life. At the time of his death, the first volume, Poems, was all but finished: he had corrected more than half of the galleys and had approved the printer’s copy for the text of the poems and for the accompanying apparatus. He had also almost completed the Tales and Sketches and accumulated an immense amount of material for subsequent volumes planned for the set.

Mr. Mabbott was born in New York City July 6, 1898 and received his A.B. in 1920 and Ph.D. in 1923 from Columbia University. Besides being an authority on Poe he also engaged in serious numismatic research and over the years built a rare and extremely valuable coin collection, emphasizing the coins of the early Roman Empire. In addition, he gathered an excellent collection of fifteenth-century block prints. Throughout his life, Mr. Mabbott was a teacher. After brief periods at Columbia, Northwestern, and Brown University, he joined the faculty of Hunter College in 1929 and remained there until his retirement in 1966. During his last two years he was Visiting Professor at St. John’s University.

 

The following text appears on the back of the dust jacket of the volume of Poems, with the note of “Forthcoming”:

Collected Works of Edgar Allan Poe
Volumes II and III
TALES AND SKETCHES
Edited by Thomas Ollive Mabbott

“Poe’s tales are his chief contribution to the literature of the world. He himself thought less highly of them than of his poems, because, he said, the tales were written with an eye to the paltry compensations or the more paltry commendations, of mankind. Yet to win popular approval by seeking it seems less than a fault when the artist gains it by working manfully in a given medium. Certainly Poe gained popular approval; his better tales have been constantly available in the more than a century since his death, and are known — and read — in every major language.

“In the category Tales and Sketches I include all shorter prose articles by Poe in which there is any element of fictional narration. The canon of Poe’s imaginative prose is not hard to establish. Almost everything collected here is either Poe’s acknowledged work or established by incontrovertible evidence. Two or three sketches are accepted with slight reservations, but only one can be classed as of highly doubtful authorship.

“The tales are arranged chronologically. The approximate year of composition as well as the exact date of earliest publication is now known for all the stories except one. The chronological arrangement makes it possible to see development, for Poe’s style, his method, and his opinions changed markedly with the years. Poe constantly revised his stories. In some cases it has seemed desirable here to give an early text in toto, as well as the final version, but all verbal variants of the texts at one time or another authorized by Poe are here recorded. My policy is one of extreme respect for Poe’s text; I correct nothing verbally save sure misprints.”

adapted from Mr. Mabbott’s Introduction

As with the Poems, Mr. Mabbott has provided for each tale some account of the origin, sources, and publication history. Criticism is held to a minimum, but some significant critical opinions are recorded. An appendix lists a number of prose works incorrectly ascribed to Poe.

 

The following text appears on the inside front flap of the dust jacket of both volumes of Tales and Sketches:

POE’s tales are his chief contribution to the literature of the world, and his better tales are known and read in every major language. Here is the collection edited by Thomas Ollive Mabbott, for more than a generation recognized as the outstanding Poe scholar in America.

Mr. Mabbott tells the origin of each tale, its sources, and publication history; mentions some significant critical opinions; and explains Poe’s references and allusions. The texts given are Poe’s final versions, incorporating manuscript changes made by the author after publication. All authorized texts have been collated, including more than fifty, mostly manuscripts and early printings, not available to earlier editors. The record of verbal variants and the chronological arrangement of the volume permit readers to see the development of Poe’s style, methods, and ideas. Both volumes were completed before Mr. Mabbott’s death; Eleanor D. Kewer and Maureen C. Mabbott have prepared his manuscripts for the printer, filling gaps left and tracking down clues in Mr. Mabbott’s notes.

Tales and Sketches carry forward the Mabbott edition of Poe, whose first volume — Poems — was hailed as a monumental accomplishment.

 

The following exerpts from reviews of the volume of Poems were printed on the dustjacket of the Tales & Sketches:

”Carries the authority of having been done . . . by the one scholar best equipped to do it.”

Times Literary Supplement

“Mabbott was recognized as unquestionably the dean of all Poe authorities, in the sweep and depth of his scholarly expertise in a class by himself . . . The Poems is almost unimaginably complete.”

Southern Literary Journal

“There is something for everyone, be he novice or intelligent layman, student or specialist.”

American Literature

 

As a relatively modern edition, with many copies available in libraries around the world, no census of copies has been attempted.

 


Corrections and Additions to the Online Edition

No book without error has ever been printed, no matter how prestigious the scholar or careful the editor. Similarly, the examination of a complicated subject, and the attendant revelation of new material, is a never-ceasing effort. Even after more than 200 years, new information, new insights, and documents unknown to previous researchers, continue to be discovered. Additions to this online edition have been accumulated from various sources, particularly the scholarly journals Poe Studies and the Edgar Allan Poe Review. Also of special value has been the set of the three volumes of the Mabbott edition owned and used for many years by Burton R. Pollin, with numerous notes written in his hand in the margins. (These notes were made as a reflection of his own studies, and eventually to create a list of errata for an intended reprint edition which had not been accomplished prior to his death on June 30, 2009. Permission from the Pollin estate allows the use of these notes for this online presentation.) Additions will generally be made at the bottom of the relevant webpage, under the section of notes. Those that can be attributed directly are appropriately acknowledged. Those that remain without attribution, and comments on these additions, should be presumed as the work of the present editor.

Pagination from the original print editions has been noted throughout; and the original formatting has been imitated as much as possible, except where changes have been made intentionally, chiefly for the sake of consistency.

Corrections are generally one of three types:

• Corrections of typographical matters

• Minor improvements in regard to formatting

• Corrections of erroneous statements of fact

Minor changes will be made directly in the text, but wherever these changes are made, an explanation will be provided in the notes, along with any additions. A list of errata will be supplied, not only as a record of these changes, but also to allow readers to mark corrections in their own copies of the print editions. The Mabbott edition has served as a standard scholarly reference work for more than three decades, and any editorial meddling must be cognizant of its significant role in Poe scholarship, and respectful of the books as historical artifacts. The goal of this online edition is to build on this foundation, and to make the material more widely available.

Planning and preparation for this online edition began in the spring of 2011. This project, however, is a large, long-term one, and it is hoped that readers and researchers will find the material useful even as it progresses, and be forgiving of errors and omissions that occur in the intermediary form.

Jeffrey A. Savoye
June 2011

A Special Note on Internal Links

Beyond the texts of poems and tales themselves, and the introductory material, TOM’s apparatus allows for four types of supplemental information: footnotes to the introductory material, Poe’s own footnotes, variants to the texts, notes to the texts. In the original printed editions, the footnotes (of both types) appeared at the bottom of relevant pages. For the poems, variants appeared at the end of each text, and for the tales and sketches, at the bottom of each page. For all of the material, the notes to the texts appear at the end of each text. Because the online edition is not confined by the physical limitations of a sheet of paper as a page, all of this material has been moved to appear at the end of each text, in the following order: Poe’s own footnotes, variants, notes to the text, footnotes to the introductory material. Links to this material are provided in the text, and from this material back to the relevant text itself. For the poems, variants and notes are keyed by the line of text within the poem, but to allow for a linking object, a tag of “[[v]]” has been created for variants and “[[n]]” for notes. These tags appear at the end of the relevant lines, with the additional advantage that the reader can see what lines possess such information without having to search for it. For the prose works, without the inherent structure of predetermined lines, notes were denoted by numbers, and variants by a rotating sequence of letters. (For a few variants, inserted after the letter scheme was already imposed, a new entry was created by repeated the previous letter and adding a prime mark.) In the original edition, these tags are given as superscripts, but in the online edition, to make them easier to see, superscripts are not used. Instead, the numbers are given in parentheses, and the letters within gull brackets. To differentiate them from the text itself, the numeric links are rendered in blue, and the letter links in green.

 


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A Chronology of Printings and Reprintings:

  • Belknap Press of Harvard University Press (Cambridge, MA)
    • 1969 - Vol. I: Poems (Acknowledgments dated May 1, 1968 and November 1968. The original price for this volume, as printed on the dustjacket, was $15.00. For this volume and issue only, Poe’s name on the title page is given in dark red.)
    • 1978 - Vols. II & III: Tales and Sketches (published, May 1978; Acknowledgments dated October 1977)
    • 1979 - Vol. I: Poems (second printing)
    • 1979 - Vols. II & III: Tales and Sketches (second printing)
    • 1980 - The Poems of Edgar Allan Poe (paperback edition, somewhat abridged by omitting the illustrations, “Acknowledgments,” “Preface to the Edtion,” Appendix material, the “Annals,” detailed list of “Sources of Texts Collated,” and the index. The original price, printed on the front cover, was $8.95.)
  • University of Illinois Press (Urbana and Chicago)
    • 2000 - Edgar Allan Poe: Complete Poems (2000) (This is Vol. I of the original set, issued in paperback and with the minor change in title noted)
    • 2000 - Edgar Allan Poe: Tales and Sketches, vols. I & II (2000) (These are Vols. II & III of the original set, issued in paperback and with the minor change in title noted) (Although the volume designation on the title page, half titles, and the table of contents for each of these books has been altered to indicate volumes I and II, instead of II and III, internal references within the introductory material and annotations refer to the volume of Poems as volume I, which is probably confusing to readers not familiar with the origins of the set.)

All three volumes are photographically reproduced from the Harvard editions, with newly typeset title pages. The illustrations are noticeable less clear than in the originals.

 


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Bibliographic Data:

9 1/4 in. x 6 1/4 in. Pages.: vol. I [i] - xxx, [1]-627 (includes illustrations, appendices and index); vol: II [i]-xxxii, [1]-713 (includes illustrations); vol. III [i]-vii, [714]-1451 (includes illustrations, bibliography of sources and index)

A note on the copyright page of the volume of Poems states that the text was set in Linotype Baskerville, and that the book was designed by Burton J. Jones.

The first and second printings are bound in maroon cloth, with matching colored end-leaves. The emblem of the raven by Manet is repeated on the front cover, and the usual title, author and publisher information appears on the spine. The dust jackets are red on the front and spine, and white on the back. The title and editor name appear on the front, along with a larger image of the Manet raven.

All three volumes are dedicated:

TO
H. MOTT BRENNAN
1898-1968
My lifelong friend

 


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Bibliography:

  • Clyne, Patricia Edwards, “Mabbott as Teacher,” Books at Iowa, April 1981 (8 pp., unnumbered)
  • Mabbott, Maureen Cobb, “Mabbott as Poe Scholar,” Baltimore: Edgar Allan Poe Society, 1980
  • Moldenhauer, “Mabbott’s Poe and the Question of Copy-text,” Poe Studies, December 1978, 11:41-46
  • Wells, Henry W., “Thomas Ollive Mabbott,” Poe and Our Times: Influences and Affinities, ed. Benjamin F. Fisher, Baltimore: Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore, 1986, pp. 75-77

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[S:0 - JAS] - Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - Works - Editions - The Collected Works of Edgar Allan Poe (1969 and 1978)