Text: Burton R. Pollin, “May 1835 (Notes),” The Collected Writings of Edgar Allan PoeVol. V: SLM (1997), p. 17 (This material is protected by copyright)


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Notes [[for May 1835]]

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May 1835 - 1 Title: [John Pendleton Kennedy]. Horse-Shoe Robinson; a Tale of the Tory Ascendency. Philadelphia: Carey, Lea and Blanchard, 1835. SLM text: pp. 522-24. Kennedy, a native of Baltimore, had come to prominence as a Southern writer with his set of sketches of life on a Virginia plantation, Swallow Barn, published in 1832. Soon after, under entreaties by his publisher, he began work on a historical romance dealing with events in the lower South during the American Revolution.

The text was finished sometime early in 1835, but his publisher wished to hold off publication until autumn, when, he felt, there would be a better market. Kennedy, however, overruled him and had the new book issued simultaneously in Philadelphia and London on June 20 in order to forestall potential British literary pirates (J. V. Ridgely, John Pendleton Kennedy. New York: Twayne, 1966, pp. 65-67). Poe was apparently unacquainted with Kennedy’s strategy, for both in a letter to White and in his two notices in Baltimore newspapers quoted above he wondered why the novel had been delayed. Kennedy certainly exercised tight control over the release; as Poe notes in the last paragraph of his review: “We regret that the late period of receiving his book will not allow us to take that extended notice of it which we could desire.”

Poe was, of course, desirous of repaying some of his debt to Kennedy in this his first extended review in the SLM. On the whole, the praise of the novel must have pleased both Kennedy and White, though, typically, Poe spent one long paragraph in criticizing the punctuation.

In a letter of May 30 to White, Poe tried to excuse what he felt had been an inadequate performance: “I have not seen Mr Kennedy for some days, having been too unwell to go abroad. When I [column 2:] saw him last he assured me his book would reach Rich” in time for your next number, and under this assurance, I thought it useless to make such extracts from the book as I wished-thinking you could please yourself in this matter. I cannot imagine what delays its publication, for it has been for some time ready for issue. In regard to my critique I seriously feel ashamed of what I have written. I fully intended to have given the work a thorough review, and examine it in detail. Ill health alone prevented me from so doing. At the time I wrote the hasty sketch I sent you I was so ill as to be hardly able to see the paper on which I wrote, and finished in a state of complete exhaustion. I have therefore, not done any thing like justice to the book, and I am vexed about the matter, for Mr K has proved himself a kind friend to me in every respect, and I am sincerely grateful to him for many acts of generosity and attention” (Letters 1: 59-60). Later, in his second “Autography” series (Graham’s, November 1841), Poe did attempt, though briefly, to acknowledge Kennedy’s pioneering role in creating the Revolutionary War romance.

a “such might be ... insecurity”] I, 145-46. Poe cites the other quotations.

b fear of the critic] Romans iii.18.

b1 at the beginning] For Poe’s several uses of this jest, inaccurately derived from The Tempest, see Pollin 2: 404-405.

c Sancho] Sancho Panza, in Cervantes’s Don Quixote.

d Poe returned to his strictures on the use of the dash in a later “Marginalia” entry; see Pollin 2: 325-26.

d1 equally as well] Universally condemned as redundant in Poe’s day and today (Fowler in 1926 calling it “an illiterate tautology”). Poe uses it also in paragraph two or article 1 of January 1836.

e Poe misspells the names of the characters Tyrrel and Habershaw.

* prophecy / prophesy






[S:0 - BRP5S, 1997] - Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - Editions - The Collected Writings of Edgar Allan Poe (B. R. Pollin) (May 1835 (Notes))