Text: Burton R. Pollin, “Introduction for Supplementary Marginalia,” The Collected Writings of Edgar Allan Poe — Vol. II: The Brevities (1985), pp. xv-xxiv (This material is protected by copyright)


[page xxix, continued:]


In December 1850 the New York City firm of J. S. Redfield published volume 3 of The Works of the Late Edgar Allan Poe, Rufus W. Griswold, editor. The first two volumes had come out in January, and the fourth volume was to be issued only in 1856. It is noteworthy that the title-page was changed slightly in the subsequent and numerous editions, which, for the first three volumes, began coming out in 1853; the first alone stressed the Marginalia and Fifty Suggestions, perhaps indicating the use of Poe’s personally marked copy: The Literati: . . .Together with Marginalia, Suggestions, and Essays. Subsequent editions [page xxx:] retained only the first two words. The Marginalia occupied pages 483-596, and Fifty Suggestions, 597-607 (the last in the book). Not one of the other Brevities was inserted (by Poe) into the authorized versions. Another probable intervention by Poe in the first edition of volume 3 was the printing of a sentence by Francis Bacon from Marginalia 62 as one of two epigraphs on the title page, the other being a quotation on truth by Lord Coke (not found elsewhere in Poe’s works). It is absolutely impossible that Griswold would have chosen these two quotations for Poe’s mottoes on volume 3, bearing his contumelious long “Memoir” which he had been developing out of his “Ludwig” editorial in the Tribune of 10/9/49. All editions of the Works after the first omitted Poe’s quotations on truth and the aim to improve, here applied to his writings. All of this betokens a suitably Poe-esque situation: Poe’s leaving his literary papers, somewhat revised and organized, with specific instructions, to an executor who turns out (probably through the devices of others) to be his inveterate literary foe; the latter quickly publishes the material which attains a popular favor and sales volume unprecedented in the living Poe’s experience, but alters a few aspects of the volumes, includes a damaging biography, and appropriates the revenues of the sales assumed by all to be intended for Poe’s aunt and/or sister — and all so furtively that Poe is even deprived of credit for having largely prepared his own posthumously published papers.

To justify my adding to the canon of the Marginalia the twenty-five Supplementary Marginalia articles, I must furnish a few of the facts mentioned in the Marginalia Introduction above. The series of seventeen installments contained 291 articles, of which 90 were dropped when the Marginalia were reprinted with 25 additions to make a total of 226. Unquestionably Poe had left the text (marked copies of the original journal pages) for these 25. In all cases they were drawn from Poe’s previous reviews, some of them dating from the 1836 Southern Literary Messenger, others from Graham’s, the Broadway Journal, and the Columbian. These were not the reviews which became parts of the Redfield volumes, nor could Griswold have taken the time either to collect them or even to make excerpts from them. He told Lowell late in October that he had only “three weeks” to process the first two volumes (Quinn, p. 659), although much more time, it is true, for the third. Some of these source reviews were sufficiently obscure or inconspicuous to escape even Harrison’s vigilant search for his 1902 edition (see nos. 1, 8, 11, 23 below). Clearly, these 25 articles were left for reprint by Poe himself. (See the TABLE OF PROVENANCE on p. xxxi.)

Moreover, Poe’s selective touch was obviously exerted in the deletion of 90 items from the 291 of the first series of Marginalia. They are, with two large areas of exception, taken from various parts of the whole for reasons that argue the determination of the author rather than the hurried and unsympathetic editor, R. W. Griswold. The two large areas [page xxxi:] present a curious coincidence requiring conclusions in a detective’s style. In the “Manuscripts” section of this Introduction are included the autograph changes made by Poe in two of the Democratic Review installments of the Marginalia, obviously for an edition that never used the changes; hence, the variants are not included in my text, although transcribed and recorded below from the detached pages of the magazine, now in the Gilman Collection of the library of the Johns Hopkins University, which has graciously allowed them to be copied. These are Installments I (nos. 1-43), VI (155-169), and VII (170-175). Now, the deleted numbers of the articles of the Marginalia, given at the foot of my “conversion” table showing the Brevities series versus the 1850 shorter series, indicate the omissions; nos. 1-43 and 170-175 are totally missing. The autograph changes on the copy of the Democratic Review are multifold for the first installment (MM 1-43), and although there are no changes at all for no. VII (MM 170-175), the clean copy belongs with the rest. [page xxxii:] We note that the omitted item numbers cover these two installments. In fact, the sixth installment covers MM 155-169, the first of which is changed by Poe and has been dropped from the 1850 reprints, although a few of the others in that installment have been retained. My inference is that the first and sixth were inscribed by Poe with changes for the future volume and were safely tucked away, along with the seventh, where he could not find them to place them with the rest of his papers. Certainly the first installment, rife with changes, should have been included, for it had the author’s alterations and the material was basically no different from that of the Marginalia which “survived” in the 1850 reprint. There must be some explanation for how another copy of installment VI, a few of which were reprinted, found its way into the papers; surely a duplicate of a sheaf from the magazine could have been procured by Poe or might have been present. In any event, Griswold was not likely to search out copies of the missing two, according to a note left by Poe. Much later Mrs. Clemm may have found all three installments and given them away to friends, whence they eventually found their way into the library.

The data offered in the lists above invite speculation concerning the Supplementary Marginalia. For example, if Poe realized that his papers had “lost” these three installments, comprising 64 Marginalia items and if he felt inclined to delete 26 more (that is 90 minus 64), then the “new” Marginalia section for the “Collected Works” might seem too meagre. Hence, there would be a need to add the 25 new ones, excerpted from old reviews. One might postulate that he did not have much time that last summer of his life, when he was busy lecturing and courting in Virginia and still planning for his magazine “The Stylus.” His reshaping the whole collection may have been casual and careless, for example, with regard to the placement of the Supplementary Marginalia articles, twelve of which are at the end, although too similar in themselves. In general, did Poe improve the arrangement of topics by the reshuffling? To help analysis of this sort of subject, I have included a list of summarizing “topics” for the “old Marginalia” (as well as the Fifty Suggestions) and for the 25 new or Supplementary Marginalia. In the table which follows on the next page, the 226 articles are shown before the number of the corresponding Brevities item — for the 201 that were retained. The others are listed at the bottom. It should be noted that none of the original first set (1-43) appeared in the 1850 set. The numbers 1-25 (in square brackets) are, in reality, my own assigned numbers for the “new” or Supplementary Marginalia. No one save E. H. O‘Neill in his rather off-hand way, has regarded these 25 little articles as eligible for the canon of essay-notes. It is a pleasure therefore to present these for study along with the body of the 291 Marginalia for the first time in any language.

Table Showing the Shifts of Marginalia Articles from the “Edition” of the 1840s (Br. = Brevities) to that of 1850






[S:0 - BRP2B, 1985] - Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - Editions - The Collected Writings of Edgar Allan Poe (B. R. Pollin) (Introduction for Supplementary Marginalia)