Rejected — “An Opinion on Dreams”


Sections:  Hist. Texts    Misc. Texts    Bibliography

Attribution of this unsigned item has gone back and forth between Poe and Horace Binney Wallace, both of whom contributed to Burton's Gentleman's Magazine at this time. (Wallace wrote under the name “William Landor.”) T. O. Mabbott tentatively assigned Wallace as the author in 1953 with the sentence that the essay is “sometimes ascribed to Poe himself, but in my opinion, the work of Horace Binney Wallace” (Mabbott, Notes and Queries, December 1953, p. 543). George E. Hatvary has argued again for considering Poe the writer (George E. Hatvary, “Poe's Possible Authorship of ‘An Opinion on Dreams’,Poe Studies, XIV, no. 2, December 1981, pp. 21-22). Hatvary's attribution is briefly disputed by Burton Pollin, in The Brevities (p. 57, note to Pinakidia 84), although Pollin seems to accept the idea that H. B. Wallace is also not the author.

In an e-mail sent to the Poe Society on May 28, 2014, Ton Fafianie reported having identified the text as directly lifted from Chaos and the Creation: An Epic Poem, in Eight Cantos, with Elucidative Notes, by Trinitarius, London: Hatchard and Son, 1834, where it appears as notes to Canto III, pp. 103-105. Checking a copy of the book provided by Google books verified his findings. This item may now safely be removed from the Poe canon.


Historical Texts:

Manuscripts and Authorized Printings:



  • “An Opinion on Dreams” (rejected) — 1934, the title and most of the last two paragraphs were printed by John W. Robertson, Bibliography of the Writings of Edgar A. Poe, (San Francisco: Russian Hill Private Press), vol. I, p. 136 (There is no indication that the initial sentences are missing, and the selection ends in the middle of the last paragraph. Robertson states that “This article has not been attributed to Poe and I may be in error in so assigning it. The contents are my justification. Poe was a ‘dreamer’ and certain of his stories and poems had, as a basis, this lapse of memory — day-dreaming such as he described in certain of his stoires and in communications with intimate friends, notably Mrs. Whitman.” In this statement, Robertson shows that he is unaware of the prior attribution by J. H. Whitty, and the comment on it by Killis Campbell.)


Scholarly and Noteworthy Reprints:

  • “An Opinion on Dreams” (rejected) — December 1981, the text is printed as part of an article: George E. Hatvary, “Poe's Possible Authorship of ‘An Opinion on Dreams’,” (Poe Studies, vol. 14, no. 2, December 1981, pp. 21-22 (Hatvary argues in favor of Poe's possible authorship.)


Associated Material and Special Versions:

Miscellaneous Texts and Related Items:

  • None



  • Campbell, Killis, “The Poe Canon,” PMLA, vol. XXVII, no. 3, September 1912, p. 348, note 2. (reprinted in The Mind of Poe and Other Studies, 1933, p. 234, note 2.)
  • Davidson, Edward H., Poe: A Critical Study, Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard Univ. Press, 1957, p. 281, n. 6
  • Fafianie, Ton, “Not Poe's Opinion on Dreams,” (Poe Studies, vol. 48, 2015, pp. 84-88
  • Hatvary, George E., “Poe's Possible Authorship of ‘An Opinion on Dreams’,” (Poe Studies, vol. 14, no. 2, December 1981, pp. 21-22
  • Heartman, Charles F., “Poe's Contributions to Burton's Magazine,” A Priced Catalogue of a Very Remarkable Collection of Early American Fiction, September 1941, pp. 26-31. (The attribution of “An Opinion on Dreams” appears on p. 29. The 1940 bibliography by Heartman and Canny lists for Poe's contributions to the Gentleman's Magazine primarly the tales and poems and similar signed items, with a few of literary notices.)
  • Heartman, Charles F. and James R. Canny, A Bibliography of First Printings of the Writings of Edgar Allan Poe, Hattiesburg, MS: The Book Farm, 1943, pp. 190-191. (A brief comment notes that Mabbott was already attributing the work to H. B. Wallace, in private correspondence with the Heartman, probably in response to Heartman's 1941 article on Poe's contributions to Burton's.)
  • Mabbott, Thomas Ollive, “Poe's Vaults,” Notes & Queries, no. 198 (December 1953), p. 543
  • Pollin, Burton R., ed., The Collected Writings of Edgar Allan Poe; Vol II: The Brevities (Including “Marginalia,” etc.) 2:57, note to Pin-084
  • Robertson, John, Bibliography of the Writings of Edgar A. Poe, San Francisco: Russian Hill Private Press, 1:136
  • Whitty, James Howard, “[Letter to the editor],” New York Times, Saturday Review of Books section, March 19, 1910, p. 29, col. 2. (The letter is signed “J. H. W.” and dated March 14, 1910. Whitty mentions but does not directly identify the note on dreams, which is revealed in his “Memoir” of Poe.)
  • Whitty, James Howard, “Memoir,” The Complete Poems of Edgar Allan Poe, Boston: Houghton Mifflin & Co., 1911, pp. lxiii-lxiv.


[S:0 - JAS] - Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - Works - Essays - An Opinion on Dreams