Text: Burton R. Pollin, “Pym (Introduction),” The Collected Writings of Edgar Allan Poe — Vol. I: Imaginary Voyages (1981/1994), pp. 4-16 (This material is protected by copyright)


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INTRODUCTION

AIMS AND METHODS

The publication by James A. Harrison, in 1902, of the jocose framework for the “Tales of the Folio Club” furnished solid proof of Poe’s satirical intentions in his early tales, numbering eleven by 1833 and later seventeen, according to his letter of September 2, 1836.(1) It is generally assumed that Poe developed his literary style in the 1830s by studying the works of the most popular or the most highly reputed authors. But his clever parodies have usually been accepted as serious creations, totally detached from their sources or models.(2) His techniques were varied: embedded citations, close paraphrase, borrowed imagery, grotesque fragments of story line, similar rhetorical tone or style, reminiscent characterizations, exaggerated scenic similarities, overwrought emotions in parallel situations, humorous and similarly pointed mottoes, and echoing titles. By the end of his practice period, he could out-Bulwer Bulwer and convince his contemporaries as well as later biographers, for example, George Woodberry, of the seriousness of satirical mood-pieces, such as “Silence,” or gothic-tale parodies, such as “Metzengerstein” and “MS. Found in a Bottle.” Is it likely that Poe could have easily and promptly given up the habit of satire, parody, and burlesque practiced so vigorously for seven years? However the general public received his works, Poe’s very few knowing and perceptive literary acquaintances came to ascribe wit and levity to him.(3)

In September 1835 the novelist John P. Kennedy advised Poe to seek success and fame through writing “farces after the manner of the French [page 5:] Vaudevilles.” After Poe had joined the Southern Literary Messenger Thomas W. White, in his editorial announcement of December 1835, praised his “uniquely original vein of imagination” and “humorous, delicate satire.”(4) In February 1836 Kennedy warned Poe about his “love of the extravagant. . . . Some of your bizarreries have been mistaken for satire — and admired . . . [although] you did not intend them so. . . . I am sure you will do wonders for yourself in the comic. . .” (Works, 17:28). Poe’s reply acknowledged that most of his tales “were intended for half banter, half satire — although I might not have fully acknowledged this to be their aim even to myself” (Letters, p. 84). This seems to refer to a tone and technique of narration, not a pointed theme. At this very time Poe was seeking the assumedly powerful help of J. K, Paulding for his volume of tales at the Harper and Brothers firm. To replace these articles, rejected because already published, Paulding suggested a “series of original Tales” or a “single work” which would befit Poe’s “fine humor” and sense of “satire” (Works, 17:378). Still searching for a publisher, Poe, on September 2, 1836, described to Harrison Hall his proposed series as “of a bizarre and generally whimsical character” (Letters, p. 103); they would even be followed by remarks “intended as a burlesque upon criticism generally.”

In short, the “playful” or “bantering” style or the habit of parody of a well-known figure or genre was deeply entrenched by the time that he began The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym in November 1836. The model is apparent in the very first pages of the SLM version of the novel, with its succession of personal and place names, its schooling data, and its promise of dire adventure: the method and even the material, to a degree, of Robinson Crusoe. This favorite novel was still captivating “breathless” youth by its spirit of wild adventure, Poe maintains in the January 1836 SLM review of the work. Why should he not perform a similar miracle through the potent power of “identification” with a similarly discontented seeker for “a state of perfect isolation”?(5) Poe’s previous parodies had been of respectable well-wrought works, whose spirit had often sustained and invigorated his own tales. Defoe’s was by no means a juvenile novel, that still aborning form; nor was Cooper’s popular The Pilot, which may have given the name Ariel to Pym’s sloop. Similarly, Frederick Marryat, prolific author of sea fictions, could contribute material to Pym, although in his criticism Poe abominated [page 6:] the captain’s popular style and lack of reflective comment and integrated plot. Thomas W. White, the nonliterary proprietor of the SLM, hints at Poe’s admitting Marryat’s influence in a letter of January 31, 1837, which also seems to settle the much mooted question of the date of his leaving Richmond: “Poe pesters me no little-he is trying every manoeuvre to foist himself on some one at the North. . . . He is continually after me for money. . . . Tell me candidly what you think of his Pym [(]Marryat’s style I suppose[)] and his Poetry.”(6) In 1841 Marryat in the preface to Masterman Ready, asserted the need to write for the juvenile audience a counter-Swiss Family Robinson by wrecking a credible family on a real island and forcing them to survive sensibly and accurately under the guidance of an expert seaman. Literary historians date juvenile sea fiction from this publication of Marryat, overlooking the large body of earlier third-rate literature, long catering to youth and uneducated adults.

Interest in the dangers and romance of the distant seas was being exploited by the booksellers and publishers of the 1830s. In 1831 Harper and Brothers began its series of “The Boy’s and Girl’s Library,” totaling thirty-two titles by 1840. Volume 12, by the prolific British writer Mrs. Barbara Hoole Hofland, was titled The Young Crusoe; or, The Adventures of a Shipwrecked Family on a Desolate Island. For Pym, Poe may have derived a general inspiration and a few specific elements from various aspects: the reduction of the ship to a “mere bulk,” the death from fever of Captain Gordon, the name of the surgeon — “Mr. Parker“and the age of the self-reliant boy hero at the end-fourteen.(7) The series was being advertised and even reviewed in the daily press. For example, the New York Weekly Messenger, whose owner and editor, B. Badger and William Scott, had agreed to praise or puff the SLM, according to letters exchanged with White, featured a “Children’s Books” column from December 1835 into June 1836. Singled out for review was the Harper’s book Perils of the Sea, which was drawn from the mariners’ chronicles which Poe was to use.(8) Another prominent British exemplar [page 7:] of this apt subject in fiction was Michael Scott’s Tom Cringle’s Log, appearing first in isolated sketches in Blackwood’s Edinburgh Magazine (September 1829-August 1833).

Elements in the tone and plot of the SLM portion of Pym make it seem likely that Poe used the tales and novels of the sea both as models for and targets of a mild type of parody, which youthful or naive adult readers could accept as serious narrative. His leading characters at the outset are juvenile like those of Marryat and Michael Scott. Pym’s fourteen years and Augustus’ sixteen are augmented by two years in the 1838 version (see 2.2A), probably to appeal to a more mature readership and to render the characters more fitting objects first of suffering and, finally, of exploratory and scientific fervor. For the frame of the Preface and epilogue or “Note,” added for the book version, Poe had to preserve virtually intact the SLM text, since only minor changes could be made without detection in the portion that had appeared in the January and February 1837 issues (no reviewer, however, pointed out even the change in the boys’ ages). Persisting, therefore, is the juvenile orientation: the stress upon “fun or frolic” (1.2); the boyish dialogue of Pym and Augustus (1.4); the sententious references to schoolboy “deception” (1.12) and “hypocrisy” (2.3); the crude humor of the vaudeville trick played upon old Grandfather Peterson (2.4); and the pietistic references to God (1.5). The author tests or chaffs the mature reader also through discrepant narrative situations, geography, natural science, nautical lore, names, and human characteristics. Man and beast assume a “grotesquerie,” to use a favorite Poe neologism (see Poe, Creator of Words, p. 27), that seems convincing if not examined critically. Consider, for example, the initial farrago of names (1.1) which almost confuses its about the location of Pym’s schooling and about the families Pym and Barnard, the humorous “Pankey & Co.,” and Robert and Emmet Ross, comprising together one Irish patriot in old New England (2.3), the sloop Ariel, whose tonnage he cannot remember and whose helm he cannot manage after many mad “freaks.” Pym faints at the warning “shriek” of the Penguin’s crew (1.6-7), but survives being transfixed through the sinews below his right ear, while Augustus survives a strangling rope, prolonged immersion, and a blow on the head. The experienced captain-father takes his son on a three-year journey in an “old hulk . . . scarcely seaworthy” with an uninspected, jumbled stowage. The huge dog, miraculously hidden, bears a message written in the dark and tied under his “shoulder,” battles Pym within a narrow box, and is carried, though deemed rabid, through a tangle of obstacles, traversing the erroneous “orlop deck” to the forecastle, called “steerage,” where he would increase the pirates’ suspicion of [page 8:] Augustus. Surely these and many more incredibilities were intended to banter the mature and gull the juvenile reader.

In the chapters probably developed fully after Poe’s departure from Richmond he may have continued to have the same aim — the hope of capturing this double audience. How could Poe have markedly varied his tone and his method without diverging too sharply from the first four, long chapters? The whole section manifests the continuing orientation. The “mate came to Augustus’s berth . . . asked if he thought he could behave himself . . . and. . . promise not to be going into the cabin again. . . . The ruffian set him at liberty, after making him drink from a flask of rum” (6.8). The rivalry of sides is presented like boys’ teams or factions (6.15). Poe disclaims any need to account for the puzzling activities of the weird Dirk Peters (7.9) whose frontier background, misshapen body, and animal toupee are almost impossible even to visualize. Without an outcry a six-foot-six opponent is neatly “tossed over the bulwarks” by this dwarf (7.11). Finally, we are expected to accept the triumphant fight of three against nine, plus the aid of the “animal ex machina” or Tiger, soon inexplicably disappearing. Throughout, the elements of the whimsical and the bizarre continue, deliberately inserted by Poe, even to footnotes: a whaler bearing cast-iron oil tanks and a jolly boat (8.10A); a rope tied by a seasoned sailor around himself so tightly as to cut through his pants into his flesh (9.5B); an unlikely balustrade that entangles a guide rope pulled in one direction but not in the other (9.11); a ship’s rudder hung like that on a small boat. Such anomalies suggest an approach that assumes its own rationale: the half-bantering, half-playful style (both adjectives being Poe’s coinages) which was close to Poe’s heart.(9)

When Poe concluded the horrid circumstances on board the Grampus, with the rescue of the two survivors, he had exhausted the potential for shock and parody in his major source material, the mariners’ chronicles, and resolved to shift to a totally new field of interest, nautical exploration and the travel book. He could not change the style of a purported journal, presented as being by Pym, the living man, but he could vary his method and type of allusions to aim the level at a more mature, scientifically minded reader, without foregoing the juvenile public. (The [page 9:] British reprints of 1841, 1857, and 1861 were intended for boys). Relevant is Poe’s later statement about “Hans Pfaall” in the “Literati Papers” on Richard Adams Locke, his rival moon-explicator in 1835: “[Believing the public, in fact, more readily gullible than did my friends,] I gave up the idea of imparting very close verisimilitude to what I should write. . . . I fell back upon a style half plausible, half bantering, and resolved to give what interest I could to an actual passage from the earth to the moon, describing the lunar scenery as if surveyed and personally examined by the narrator.” Here the voyage was to the South Pole, but the narrative means and tone are the same. The technique, used from the beginning of the novel, now had more of the “plausible,” derived from his new “realistic” sources, Morrell and Reynolds, but we still find exact details, melodramatic tone, varied rhetoric, and the unquestioning acceptance of rank impossibilities by the narrator. It was a method which was to function effectively and convincingly even in his later detective fiction, and it worked well for many of the reviewers of the book.(10)

The practice of parody-direct borrowing, close paraphrase, and parallelism of narrative action-Poe continues with his shift of scene and situation into polar exploration and travel (a bit perversely installing an American adviser to the captain on a British vessel). He now adapted a Harper and Brothers best-seller of 1832, Benjamin Morrell’s Narrative of Four Voyages. The firm, probably aware of Poe’s wholesale borrowing, had no basic objections, for James Harper had said to John Stephens, while encouraging him to write Incidents of Travel from their “plenty of books”: “You can just pick out as many as you want . . . you can dish up something.”(12) Parody is still suggested by the uncanny ability of Poe to choose natural history data from his source that are full of fallacies (e.g., the tortoise and the wild sea fowl, in chaps. 12 and 14) or to develop his own fallacies (the skills of Stone-Age savages, in chap. 21). And always the tone and the marshaling of material are deceptively earnest. In bringing in more of the “plausible” or ostensibly factual, Poe was also obliged to introduce a change in Pym’s character: now more [page 10:] adult in his range of interests and in his capacity to assume leadership.(12) Pym now dominates Augustus and casts away the “horrid morsel” (10.5), directs the diving operations while his companions cheat and imbibe the debilitating wine, the effects of which Dr. Pym assuages (11.8), retains his “powers of mind” (11.10), expostulates with the would-be cannibals (12.1), conducts the fatal lottery (12.7), finds the ax (12.13), salvages the tortoise (13.9), and later steers Captain Guy to the south (17.12, 18.1, and 18.8). Peters comes forth chiefly to rescue Pym at the capsizing of the brig (13.16) and at the cliff (23 bis. 4), but is neither an alter ego nor a dominant father figure, merely a narrative companion-needed in a novel without any love interest.

In general, Poe was never concerned with consistency of characterization nor subtlety of motivation. There is no reason to lament the lack of psychological depth in Pym; juvenile fiction and sea tales rarely contain these elements. But some readers conclude that the arbitrary nature of the plot development and the flatness of the characters must signify some intended underlying theme. In order to validate this assumption, critics have searched the text for episodes, motifs, even phrases that seem capable of yielding an interpretation quite separate from their role as plot or structural elements. Poe, for example, changed the departure of Pym from April to June, probably at first to afford a useful parallel in seasons and events for the cruises of Captains Guy and Benjamin Morrell, and this shift did, indeed, furnish a nine-month span for the journey, ending with the first day of spring. But is this an implied gestation, a period of flowering? Is Pym really wiser, riper in emotions, more morally responsible at the end than earlier in the book, when he contemplates suicide at the cliff or ruthlessly kills the savages next to Peters at the end? For that matter, is it really the first day of spring at the South Pole, where the seasons are exactly reversed? Other instances can be cited. It is true that Pym experienced a three days’ sleep with some slight New Testament overtone and often uses the convenient term of “entomb” for “hide or imprison.” The cliff falls with the sound of “universal dissolution” (20.13) and at the descent Pym “felt a new being” (23 bis. 4), and finally the canoe encounters the great “shrouded human figure” of snowy skin (24.14).

These are weak pegs on which to hang the heavy cloaks of thematic interpretation enveloping the story in many modern readings and in none of the contemporary. Moreover, in no letter by Poe of allusion to the [page 11:] book is there a trace of those “undertones” of meaning which commentators infuse into the work. The oneiric interpretations, for example, ignore Poe’s careful differentiation of dream, stupor, sleep, and wakefulness throughout Pym.(13) The redemptive readings, featuring the theme of gnosis, concentrate upon the metaphors common in the prose of a poet or an exaggerating rhetorician. They often depend upon material drawn from the ten years’ distant Eureka for the theme of transcendental unity, held to be parallel with the revelational white light imputed to the ending, pace Edward Davidson and his confusion of physics and metaphysics. Poe’s melodramatic language of hypocrisy and deception and seeming stress upon false appearances (which may be merely the technique of melodramatic reversal of expectation) have led to many a view of Poe as intending a solipsistic comment on the insubstantial universe. A sociological theme is advanced by Sidney Kaplan, that Pym reflects “the Southern self-consciousness of the author . . . an unyielding upholder of slavery,” so that the “eternal hostility of black and white” determines all the events of the Tsalal section and the black cook’s inhumanity as well; but this overlooks the nonwhite aspect of the kindly companion Peters, compact of Negro and Indian qualities.(14)

Poe would probably find fascinating but inapplicable the many explications read into his purposefully simple and exciting narrative. In the canon of Poe’s criticism, serious and deliberate allegory or underlying, integrating theme receives no praise, and the idea that a novel is a long, complex explication of an unconsciously maintained viewpoint about life — not literature — is inadmissable for a deliberate craftsman. Concerning Undine in his September 1839 Gentleman’s Magazine review, Poe asserted that “allegory” is “the most indefensible species of writing,” and in 1847 he still said: “There is scarcely one respectable word to be said [about it].”(15) Finally, in his posthumous essay, “The Poetic Principle,” he powerfully summarizes the thematic approach as “the heresy [page 12:] of The Didactic.” (Imaginative prose and poetry are here to be considered together, his criticism shows.) Yet, it must be remembered, Poe would exempt from this condemnation an author’s intention to satirize a literary genre or work. In some measure, this obvious tendency operates in Pym and the other two long narratives with respect to his reliance upon source material.

Apart from the disjointed development of the whole narrative, a given fact which reduces the likelihood of his intending any unifying theme, we must also consider the implications of Poe’s nonchalant treatment of his own text and subsequent attitude toward the book itself. Poe, the meticulous craftsman, often utilized successive reprints of his works for revisions and, in his magazine critiques, excoriated authors for slack writing. But errors and infelicities of grammar, syntax, and wording are freely scattered through Pym, a few instances of which may be cited here: “upon seeing me . . . his exclamations . . . excited . . . laughter” (1.7); “both Augustus and myself managed” (1.12); “amply long enough” (2.1); “having rubbed in the phosphorus, a brilliancy ensued” (3.4); “as much influence, if not more, than the mate” (4.4); “ordered to follow, which they did” (4.5); “having concluded to write, the difficulty was now” (5.4); “she shipped a sea, several of which came . . . down” (8.10); “having explained my object, he expressed himself indebted to me” (11.8).(16) Even in the text of 1838 Poe fails to improve the instances in the SLM installments cited above, although most of them were of precisely the type that attracted his sharp-tempered disapproval in books being reviewed. It is a weak argument to claim that Pym’s “distrust in my own abilities as a writer” (Preface) of a book whose “very uncouthness, if there were any” would be self-justifying as fictional truth or consistency. For one thing, there is no difference in style between editor Poe’s part (so-called) and Pym’s; for another, Pym is supposed to be sufficiently educated to write more correctly. Without question, in style Pym is Poe’s least careful, least polished work.

Beside his indifference to matters of style, Poe manifested a marked indifference in textual and petty factual matters that shows his low regard for the novel as a finished work of art. All readers notice that “many years elapsed” before Pym learns the truth from Augustus who, however, dies within a month (5.7). Later Pym speaks of “nine long years crowded with events of . . . unconceivable character,” purportedly given in the [page 13:] novel, which will end in eight months of time (10.1), These were not noted by the contemporary reviewers, nor were more obvious errors and confusions, such as Poe’s miscopying “wings” for the “rings” of sea slugs (20.4) or “east” for “south” for one of Morrell’s nautical positions (16.6). Poe wrote “pelicans” for “penguins” (19.3) despite his earlier description of the rookery, followed Morrell in his obviously wrong spelling of “gasteropeda” (20.4), and allowed errors in Morrell and Reynolds to lead to two different spellings for Weddell and Bennett (15.9, 16.5, 16.10, 17.11, 24.3, 24.5) and a misspelling for Biscoe (16.10). He miscopied Lisiansky and Kruzenstern (16.4) and gave the Enderby firm two home bases (2.2, 16.9).

Another broad area of casualness appears in his handling of dialogue, so vital to narrative fiction for the explanation of motive, as he himself asserted in his Nov. 1843 Graham’s review of Cooper’s Wyandotté. Keith Huntress points out a mere sixteen direct speeches in all of Pym, including “Ay, ay” and four utterances of “Tekeli-li.” By including spoken commands at sea, he could have raised the small total to eighteen, and still be correct in his criticism.(17) Poe was even indifferent in the paragraphing of the book. The long first chapter, for example, contains only twelve divisions, chap. 4 has six, chap. 5 has eight, chap. 7 has twelve, and the lengthy 20 has only thirteen. Poe’s principle is fairly clear-each paragraph to comprise a separate scene or to designate a shift of characters or of fictional time; this derives more from the exigencies of the stage than of narrative and indicates Poe’s melodramatic tendencies throughout the book. Baudelaire often broke up the monotonously long paragraphs by using all the snippets of dialogue for separation and quite arbitrarily subdividing them to underscore the topics.

Whether Poe would have conscientiously revised his text for another edition can be a subject for conjecture. Despite the generally favorable reviews — especially in England — Pym was not a commercial success after its publication on July 30, 1838.(18) Was this one reason that in his letter [page 14:] to Burton of June 1, 1840, he wrote this deprecatory statement, usually abridged in citations:

You once wrote in your magazine [a sharp critique] upon a book of mine — a [very silly book — Pym. Had I written a simi]lar critici[sm] upon a book of yours, you feel that you would [have been] my enemy for life, and you therefore ima[give in my] bosom a latent hostility towards yourself. . . . Your criticism was essentially correct and therefore, although severe, it did not occasion one solitary emotion either of anger or dislike.” (Letters, p. 130)

He was not, however, unwilling to let the novel sink totally out of sight and probably entertained the notion of reprinting it in some revised form, perhaps as one of the Prose Romances, begun in 1843. In the material that he gave to Henry Hirst for the long biographical sketch in the Saturday Museum of March 4, 1843, he termed it “a book which ran through many English editions” — an inaccurate reference to the two editions of 1838 and 1841. He apparently sent a copy to Robert Carter, after the New Englander had abridged the Museum biographical sketch for the Boston Notion of April 29, 1843; Carter’s letter of June 19, 1843 tells of reading it and lending it to Oliver Wendell Holmes’s brother, who praised its “authentic” details (save for the “jib boom” of 1.5; Works, 17:146-48). In November 1843, Poe’s journalist friend, George Lippard, probably at Poe’s instigation, praised Pym for its “powers that rival De Foe’s” in the Citizen Soldier of Philadelphia (see PS, June 1974, 7:22). Two months later Poe first publicly but still indirectly acknowledged his authorship in the uncollected January 1844 Graham’s review of Cooper’s Ned Myers, another book, says Poe, “edited” by its real author (see Discoveries in Poe, pp. 136-37). On the other hand, referring to subsequent opinions expressed by Poe, Evert Duyckink reported: “Poe did not appear in his conversation to pride himself much upon it” (Cyclopaedia of American Literature [New York, 1855], 2:538),

The instinctive workmanship of Poe, it should be noted, prevented him from constructing an entirely artless book. He may not have known where he intended to send Pym at various stages of the narrative, but seen as a whole, the novel evidences a form which Harry Levin was the first to declare as “almost symmetrical”: Preface and end-“Note,” preliminary Ariel and final canoe episodes, cruises of the Grampus and the Jane Guy. Harold Beaver exploits more fully the inferred symmetry for an allegorical reading of reflecting halves and the interfusion of life and death. Patrick Quinn’s earlier view of Pym, influentially reprinted in [page 15:] his book of studies of Poe, also finds constructive skill and artistry in the consistent “theme of deception” and “the pattern of revolt.”(19)

The contemporary reviewers saw none of these clever and ingenious structures and scarcely any of the playful method, although a few commented in passing on the hoax nature of the story, largely because of the “Note.” They noted the surprises, horrors, and shocks promised in the subtitle and the Preface and were impressed or repelled by the rhetorical power of many passages of the text. Collectively they managed to cite all the outstandingly graphic or emotionally enthralling scenes which linger with the reader long after the borrowed details of nature lore and geography or the repetitions of mishaps on the brig have been forgotten.

It is this residual effect in memory, especially of the haunting and teasing conclusion, that has given Pym a considerable influence over other writers and has tempted several to endeavor to penetrate “beyond the veil” (24.14). In 1864 Jules Verne called for a solution and finally in 1897 postulated a pull upon Pym’s rifle by the magnetic mound or white “figure” at the end in Le Sphinx des Glaces; Poe’s work, more recently, affected the active imagination of Blaise Cendrars in Dan Yack (1946). Another “solution” was offered by C. A. Dake in A Strange Discovery (1899), a curious mixture of utopianism and romance, which in turn contributed elements to the more powerful science-fiction continuation of H. P. Lovecraft, At the Mountains of Madness (magazine publication, 1936; book, 1964). The influence of Pym has been suggested for Melville’s Moby Dick and Mardi, for H. G. Wells’s Mr. Blettsworthy on Rampole Island (1928), and for Walter de la Mare’s The Three Mulla-Mulgars (1910). Other French writers beside Verne have been under the sway of the novel, starting most illustriously with Rimbaud in Le Bateau ivre and including André Gide.(20) In view of the outpouring of critical commentary and the many new editions in the [page 16:] 1960s and 1970s,(21) it may be assumed that Pym will continue to evoke a creative response from many others who “cannot choose but hear.”

 


[[Footnotes]]

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 4:]

1.  James A. Harrison, ed., The Complete Works of Edgar Allan Poe (New York, 1902), 2:xxxvi-xxix, and John W. Ostrom, ed., The Letters of Edgar Allan Poe (Cambridge, Mass., 1948), pp. 103-5. For an account of the Folio Club see T. O. Mabbott, Tales, 1:13-15 and 203-7, and see useful material in the articles by Alexander Hammond, despite the questionable views about “Shadow” and “Diddling,” in PS, December 1972, ESQ, 1972, and The Library Chronicle, Spring 1976.

2.  See John W. Wilson, American Mercury, 1931, 24:215-20.

3.  Michael Allen, Poe and the British Magazine Tradition (New York, 1969), pp. 174-81, influentially discusses Poe’s expectation if not conviction of having a “coterie audience” of appreciative elite readers.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 5:]

4.  Given by Arthur H. Quinn, Edgar Allan Poe (New York, 1941), p. 231. For Kennedy’s letter, see Works, 17:19.

5.  For a full account see my study “Poe and Daniel Defoe: A Significant Relationship” in Topic: 30, Fall 1976, pp. 3-22.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 6:]

6.  Cited from a copy in the University of Virginia Library by William Doyle Hull, “A Canon of the Critical Works of . . . Poe” (Ph.D. diss., University of Virginia, 1941), p. 65. He also cites a letter of January 24, which thus proves that Poe was not yet “off.”

7.  Eugene Exman, The Brothers Harper (New York, 1965), p. 21, for the start of the series gives the 1831 date for Mrs. Hofland’s book, published in London in 1829. The Library of Congress catalog shows only an 1832 edition of the Harpers, but as a reprint. Over twelve of her juvenile works had been reprinted in America by 1836.

8.  My thanks are due to David K. Jackson for providing me with copies of these letters, a few of which are cited by Hull (pp. 62-66) as coming from the Abernathy Collection of American Literature, Middlebury College.

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 8:]

9.  Several commentators have proposed explanations for Pym’s shift in tone and for its deceptiveness: G. R. Thompson, Poe’s Fiction (Madison, 1973), pp. 176-87, makes Pym a “clear example” of “Romantic Irony”; Evelyn Hinz, Genre, 1970, 3:379-99, applying Northrup Frye’s concept of Menippean satire, instances numerous shifts and inconsistencies; J. G. Kennedy, Topic: 30, Fall 1976, pp. 41-53, postulates an author playing with “the problem of truth.”

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 9:]

10.  For the reception of Pym see my study with the texts furnished in Studies in American Fiction, Spring 1974, 2:37-54, and PS, 1975, 8:32-35; also that by J. D, Vann, in PS, 1976, 9:43-44. For Poe’s method in his detective fiction, see my study in Studies in the American Renaissance, 1977, 1:235-59. Even the reviews of the Griswold reprint of 1856, when there was more general knowledge about the Antarctic, commend the book for its “scrupulous correctness,” as in E. V. Smith’s long review-article in the North American Review, October 1856, 83:427-55.

11.  See Exman, The Brothers Harper, pp. 94-95.

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 10:]

12.  Highly influential has been the view of W. H. Auden, Edgar Allan Poe: Selected Prose, Poetry, and Eureka (New York, 1950), p. vii: “The hero is as purely passive as the I in dreams.”

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 11:]

13.  See Poe’s objection to a reliance upon dream for the solution of such narrative “intrigue” as in Bird’s Sheppard Lee, reviewed in the September 1836 SLM.

14.  Sidney Kaplan, Narrative of . . . Pym (New York, 1960), Introduction. Mr. Kaplan addresses himself solely to “the concluding portion” in this interpretation and ascribes no latent theme to the rest. His evidence for Poe’s racial prejudice unfortunately includes a review of Paulding’s Slavery in the United States, in the April 1836 SLM, which Poe did not write, despite Bernard Rosenthal’s “Reexamination” in PS, December 1974, 7:29-38.

15.  My study, “Undine in the Works of Poe,” Studies in Romanticism, Winter 1975, 14:59-74, cites more of the evidence from Poe himself. For a cogent argument against finding in Pym any unifying theme see Sidney P. Moss, University Review, Summer 1967, 33:299-306.

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 12:]

16.  Other instances can be found in 1.4, 1.9, 2.16, 3.4, 5.7 (three), 6.7, 7.2, 7.4, 8.1, 9.5, 12.17, 13.17, 17.10, 18.7, 18.9, 19.2, 19.7, 20.2, 22.3, 23.7 (three), 23.10, 23 bis.2 and 3, 23 bis.6, 24.1.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 13:]

17.  Huntress, ed., Narratives of Shipwrecks and Disasters, 1586-1860 (Ames, Iowa, 1974), Introduction, pp. xxviii-xxx.

18.  This date is given in an advertisement by Isaac Post, New York bookseller, in the New York American of July 31. A letter to Poe from Harper and Brothers, of February 20, 1839 (in the Griswold MSS. in the Boston Public Library) says: “We are inclined to think that ‘Pym’ has not succeeded or been received as well in this country as it has in England. . . . We sent 100 copies of it to London — and we presume that they have been sold. In addition to which we understand that an English edition has been printed.” This was incorrectly cited by Killis Campbell in The Mind of Poe (Cambridge, 1932), p. 49; my thanks for a full transcript are due to Ian Walker, of the University of Manchester.

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 15:]

19.  Patrick Quinn, The Hudson Review, Winter 1952, 4:562-85, and The French Face of Poe (Carbondale, 1957), p. 177; Levin, The Power of Blackness (New York, 1958), pp. 114-15; and Harold Beaver, Pym (1975), pp. 29-30.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 15, running to the bottom of page 16:]

20.  For Verne, see Monique Sprout. Revue de Littérature Comparée, March 1967, 41:101-5; for Cendrars, see J. M. Santraud, Etudes Anglaises, 1972, 25:353-66; for Melville’s Moby Dick, see L. S. Mansfield and H. P. Vincent, eds., Moby Dick (1952), notes on pp, 607, 705, 710, 780, 828, and Patrick Quinn (see n. 19 supra) and for Mardi see Faith Pullen, ed., New Perspectives on Melville (Kent, Ohio, 1978), pp. 34-38; for Wells, see Alexander Cowie, The Rise of the American Novel (New York, 1951), p. 801, n. 106; for de la Mare, see E. Wagenknecht, Poe (New York, 1963), p. 248; for Rimbaud, see E. Noulet, Le Premier visage de Rimbaud (Brussels, 1953), pp. 212-13; for Gide’s Le Vovage d‘Urien, see Jean Delay, La Jeunesse d‘André Gide (Paris, 1956), [page 16:] and for other French writers see P. Mac Orlan’s Introduction to Pym (Paris, 1956), and that of C. Moulin, Pym (Paris, 1966).

21.  See my “Comprehensive Bibliography of Editions and Translations of Arthur Gordon Pym,” ATQ, 37 (Winter 1978), 93-110, listing 320 items chronologically and by country.

 


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Notes:

None.


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[S:0 - BRPIMV, 1981/1994] - Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - Editions - The Collected Writings of Edgar Allan Poe (B. R. Pollin) (Pym)