Text: G. R. Thompson, “Current Poe Studies,” from Poe Newsletter­, June 1970, vol. III, no. 1, 3:23-24


[page 23, column 1:]

Current Poe Studies

Symposium on Gothicism in American Literature

Richard P. Benton (Trinity), editor of New Approaches to Poe: A Symposium (Hartford, Conn.: Transcendental Books, 1970), also published in ESQ (No. 60, Supplement, pp. 1-91), will edit a symposium on “Gothicism in American Literature of the Nineteenth Century” to appear in ESQ or ATQ next year. Professor Benton is particularly interested in essays on Brown, Irving, Poe, Hawthorne, Lippard, and Melville. Address him in care of the Department of English, Trinity College, Hartford, Connecticut 06106.

Five Major Poe Studies

1)  Thomas Ollive Mabbott’s edition of Poe’s Poems has at last appeared as Volume I of Collected Works of Edgar Allan Poe (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard U P, 1969-). It is a thick volume, running to 594 pages without the index; it includes lengthy introductory commentary on the poems and editions of the poems, as well as variants, notes, and special appendices. Of the appendices, the “Annals” (pp. 529-572), is especially notable: a chronicle of “the years of Edgar Poe” (cf. PN, I, 2b), incorporating new data from Mabbott’s fifty years of study.

2)  Floyd Stovall (Virginia) has published Edgar Poe the Poet: Essays New and Old on the Man and His Work (Charlottesville: Univ Press of Virginia, 1969), which collects nine essays representative of Stovall’s forty years of study. Four of the essays are new: “Poet in Search of a Career,” “Poe and ‘The Musiad ’,” “Mood, Meaning and Form in Poe’s Poetry,” and “The Poetic Principle in Prose.”

3)  Robert D. Jacobs (Kentucky) has published his long awaited Poe: Journalist & Critic (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State U P, 1969); this is a very full study (over 450 pages) focused on Poe as a working critic. Jacobs deals simultaneously with two aspects of Poe’s criticism, that is, the theoretical and the practical in terms of their interaction with each other.

4)  Sidney P. Moss (Southern Illinois) has collected together the documents of what he calls Poe’s Major Crisis: His Libel Suit and New York’s Literary World (Durham, N.C.: Duke U P, 1970). These documents, many of them previously unlocated, and numbering over one hundred, are organized into three sections: before, during, and after Poe’s lawsuit against the New York Mirror (May 1846 to September 1847). Each document is prefaced by an introductory comment, and Professor Moss hopes, through this “documentary” method, to show that Poe, rather than succumbing to a fundamental paranoia in his personality, as some biographers have contended, was actually mercilessly persecuted by enemies intent on destroying his literary career. A portion of the study appeared in PN (I, 18-21).

5)  Discoveries in Poe, by Burton R. Pollin (CUNY, Bronx), previously announced in PN, has appeared (Notre Dame, Ind.: Univ of Notre Dame Press, 1970); it too is a full study, running to over 300 pages. It is largely a study of Poe’s reading: its first chapters deal with Poe’s use of French Romantic writers like Chateaubriand, Béranger, Hugo, and others; the later chapters deal with Poe’s use of British writers like Reynolds, Mary Shelley, Byron. All of these new book-length studies of Poe are scheduled for individual review in PN at a later time.  


Stuart G. Levine (Kansas) has nearly completed Edgar Poe: Seer and Craftsman, to be published by Everett/Edwards Inc., possibly so soon as this year. It is Professor Levine’s belief that Poe is basically an occultist, and thus he contends that an analysis of Poe’s philosophy and esthetics in the context of the occult tradition as Poe knew it is essential to an understanding of his poetry and fiction. In sample readings of a number of stories, Levine attempts to integrate this occult aspect of Poe’s work with his artistic environment, having special reference to the nineteenth-century journals. He discusses the contents of these journals, from the literature they contain to such matters as music, filler items, and cuts. Levine contends that these matters, [column 2:] in turn, are relevant to the issue of Poe’s artistic control, evidenced, Levine feels, by the way Poe uses such materials in his minor tales.  

Casebooks and Collections of Essays

Claude Richard (Montpellier) has edited Configuration Critique de Edgar Allan Poe (Paris: Minard, 1969), a collection of eight reprinted essays along with a preface, an annotated bibliography, and a new essay by Richard on Poe as a humorist. Frank Durham (South Carolina) is at work on a casebook on “The Gold-Bug,” date of publication uncertain. Two casebooks on “Usher” will soon be available. Thomas Woodson has edited Twentieth-Century Interpretations of “The Fall of the House of Usher (Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall, 1969, which reprints fifteen essays along with an introduction by Woodson; and Eric Carlson (Connecticut) has nearly completed a casebook on “Usher” for Charles Merrill Co., date of publication uncertain.  

New Poe Anthologies in English

Joseph Wood Krutch’s Edgar Allan Poe: Selected Stories and Poems ( New York: F. Watts, 1969) contains a critical and biographical profile in the manner of his previous study of Poe (1926). A complete collection of the fiction in progress is that of Stuart G. Levine (Kansas), with extensive annotation, for Bobbs Merrill, date of publication uncertain. An Indian edition of The Selected Tales of E. A. Poe, with an introduction by D. Ramakrishna, is being brought out by the United States Information Service, New Delhi, India, date of publication uncertain. G. R. Thompson (Washington State) has edited Great Short Works of Edgar Allan Poe for Harper & Row, to be published this fall. Running to nearly 600 pages, the book presents a large selection of Poe’s tales, poems, and essays. A chronology, a bibliographical essay, and a forty-page introduction, emphasizing Poe as an ironist, are other features of the volume.  

Papers, Lectures, Meetings, Symposia

John E. Reilly (Holy Cross) read a paper on the “Legendary Image of Poe” at the initial meeting of the New York-Pennsylvania MLA in April 1968. In December 1968, at the National Meeting of the MLA in New York, Eric W. Carlson (Connecticut) and G. R. Thompson (Washington State) chaired a meeting on “The Direction of Poe Studies.” Approximately two dozen people interested in the development of Poe Newsletter attended to discuss its first year of publication, with special attention to format, frequency of publication, source studies, critical symposia, and reviewing.

On 27-29 March 1969, an Edgar Allan Poe Festival, titled “None Sing So Wildly Well,” was held at Nassau Community College as part of a continuing series of annual celebrations of American poets. The program, put together by Eric W. Carlson, included: readings by interpretative groups of several of Poe’s works; the performance of several appropriate musical works; the performance of a play written especially for the festival, The Raven Rock, by Leonard Melfi, directed by Wesley J. Jensby; the showing of the films “The Haunting” and “Lady in a Cage.” Several readings of contemporary poets were also offered. Of more interest to the Poe scholar were the papers read: Philip Nicholson (Nassau) read “Historical Perspective of Poe’s Times”; Eric Carlson read “Poe’s Vision of Man”; Burton R. Pollin (Bronx) read “Poe and Creative Plagiarism”; Patrick F. Quinn (Wellesley) discussed “The French Face of Poe.”

In December 1969, G. R. Thompson and Eric Carlson co-chaired “Poe and Dark Romanticism,” Seminar 60 of the National MLA Meeting in Denver. Thompson read a brief paper, “Poe and Romantic Irony”; Carlson summarized his view of Poe as an occultist, and the discussion followed these divergent lines. Some two dozen people attended. At the nineteenth-century American Literature Section meeting on Saturday, two Poe papers were read: Eric Carlson read “Poe’s Vision of Man”; Burton R. Pollin read “Poe and Creative Plagiarism.” [page 24:]

More or Less Periodic

Two other periodic publications relevant to Poe have appeared. One is Edgar Allan Poe Scripts by Frank Wuttge, Jr., a typed single-page broadside series which so far includes three items by Mr. Wuttge. The latest is a reprint of a poem by one Orville Guy Victor, who was custodian of the Poe Cottage (in the Bronx) in 1916. The other Poe periodical is The Poe Messenger: From The Edgar Allan Poe Museum in Richmond, edited by Robert Nelson Pollard, Jr. (President of the Poe Foundation, Inc., Richmond), and Virginia Page Chichester (Administrator for the Poe Foundation). Volume I, Number 1 (dated Autumn 1969 but arriving mid-1970) is a small leaflet concerned mainly with the antiquarian; that is, with the Poe Museum’s activities and acquisitions, and with the restoration of Richmond historical treasures.

Of more interest to scholars are the continuing yearly pamphlets of the Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore. Last year’s Poe address, part of the Forty-Seventh Annual Commemoration Program, was delivered on 5 October 1969 by Patrick F. Quinn and has been published by the Poe Society and the Enoch Pratt Free Library (Baltimore, 1970). This twenty-two page pamphlet, Poe and France: The Last Twenty Years, is an important critical guide to the fascination Poe continues to hold for the French, especially the French “new critics” or “structuralists.” Parts of this work appeared in PN (I, 13-14) and in the Poe chapter (pp. 158-176) of American Literary Scholarship: an Annual/1968, which Mr. Quinn has taken over from J. Albert Robbins who has become the new general editor of ALS.

Poe Newsletter, also more-or-less periodic, has had problems in keeping on schedule. Our basic publication dates are spring and fall, which should be interpreted loosely as approximately the first and the second halves of the year. Because of an extra issue last year, we are one issue behind schedule. Although another supplement may also appear this year, we are beginning to catch up; please bear with us for the time being. Also, we need your support; it is easy to forget to renew; please renew for 1970 now.


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[S:1 - PSDR, 1970]