Text: Burton R. Pollin, “January 1836 (Notes),” The Collected Writings of Edgar Allan PoeVol. V: SLM (1997), pp. 100-103 (This material is protected by copyright)


[page 100:]

Notes [[for January 1836]]

[column 1:]

January 1836 - 1 Titles: (1) Lydia H. Sigourney. Zinzendorff and Other Poems. New York: Leavitt, Lord & Co., 1836; (2) Hannah Flagg Gould. Poems. Boston: Hilliard, Gray & Co., 1835.; (3) Elizabeth F. Ellet. Poems: Translated and Original. Philadelphia: Key and Biddle, 1835. SLM text: pp. 112-17. All three women poets appealed to large audiences in their day. For Sigourney, see note to June 1835 - 7. In 1846 Poe and Ellet became involved in a public scandal over her letters to him. The episode resulted in her lasting enmity; for details, see the Poe Log, pp. 622 ff. Poe included Gould in “Autography” in the August 1836 SLM, p. 601.

a Hemans: see note to June 1835 - 7.

b unity ... of interest] Another instance of Poe’s developing critical principle.

b1 A green oasis] Frequently Poe’s faultings of individual words in poetry citations seem wrong or arbitrary, owing to two factors: his rigidity about a strict rhythm, almost march-like in regularity and disallowing such variations as a trochee in an iambic verse, and Poe’s lack of a comprehensive dictionary covering England and America for variations and dialectal differences. Here, for example, Sigourney is following standard accentuation for “oasis,” but Poe prefers and apparently knows only an alternate which the OED gives as secondary but widespread in Scotland and America, namely “o’ a sis“. In her verses above, “misanthrope’s bosom” varies the pattern with a trochee followed by an iamb. Above too, the OED inclines towards considering “enthusiasm” as ambiguously pronounced in three “hurried” syllables. Throughout Poe’s career as lecturer and reader of his own poems, auditors complained about the monotonous regularity of his poetic stress-rhythm.

* marchande des modes / marchande de modes] A milliner. Possibly a typographical [column 2:] error, though it is more likely that Poe made the error in the French phrase.

c Campbell] Thomas Campbell, Gertrude of Wyoming, 1, 1.

c1 not English] Poe condemns this blend of “wast” and “wert” which entered the language in the 16th century and became a favorite with many poets and orators. See Burns’s “Oh, wert thou in the cauld, cauld blast,” and also Poe’s single instance in the “Mysterious Star” Introduction to “Al Aaraaf’: “Thou wert my dream ... / Be now my theme!” This accords with his protest against “poetic diction earlier in Sigourney’s poem and elsewhere. Many precedents can be found to justify this form. Poe repeats this charge (April 1836 - 3 at n. p).

d Friends of Man] See SLM 1 (September 1835): 755-56.

d1 homelinesses] As the italics and the parenthetical clause shows, Poe is aware of creating an unconventional plural here. The OED gives no other instance.

d2 words] Hamlet 2.2.195.

d3 purifier of silver] Poe here quotes Malachi 3.3.

e Miss Gould] For Poe on Gould, see Pollin 2: 172-73.

* Beranger / Béranger (see next asterisk also)

f the lady’s translation] Poe carped at Ellet’s acknowledged expertise as a translator. For his gross errors and unjust charges in this instance, see Pollin, Discoveries, pp. 59-62.

* Pierre Jean de Beranger / Jean-Pierre de Béranger

g Lamartine] For Poe’s disdain of the popular Alphonse Lamartine, see Pollin 2: 151, note d.

h plagiarism entire] Poe, inept in both Italian and Spanish, could hardly have observed any plagiarism by himself. A survey of Poe’s actual grasp of modern tongues, including German, can be found [page 101:] in Hansen and Pollin, The German Face of Poe, chapters 3-5.

i drama of Nicolini’s] For a possible later use of the name, see Mabbott 3: 934, n. 3.

j midnight bell! ... iron tongue] There is a possible echo of these phrases in Poe’s “The Bells,” stanza 4,11. 1 - 4.

January 1836 - 2 Title: [William Gilmore Simms]. The Partisan. New York: Harper & Brothers, 1835. SLM text: pp. 117-21. Simms, prolific novelist and poet, was the antebellum South’s premier literary figure. The Partisan was the first of what became a seven-novel panorama of the Revolution as fought in the lower colonies. Poe’s review stung Simms. In a much later letter (March 15, 1845), Simms wrote to Evert A. Duyckinck: “Poe is no friend of mine, as I believe. He began by a very savage attack on one of my novels — the Partisan. I cannot say that he was much out in his estimate. In some respects, as a story for example,& in certain matters of taste and style, that was one of the very worst of the books I have ever written. Poe’s critique, however, paid little heed to what was really good in the thing, and he did injustice to other portions which were not quite so good. Besides, he was rude & offensive & personal, in the manner of the thing. ...” Yet Simms went on to acknowledge Poe’s merits: “I do not puff the man when I say I consider him a remarkable one. He has more real imaginative power than 99 in the 100 of our poets & tale writers.” For the full passage, see Mary C. Simms Oliphant, Alfred Taylor Odell, and T. C. Duncan Eaves, eds., The Letters of William Gilmore Simms (Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 1953), 2: 42-43. Poe was more respectful of Simms in later comments, though he continued to point out defects in his work. By the mid1840s they had met several times in New York City, and a closer relationship developed. For a long letter of fatherly advice from Simms to Poe during the controversy over Poe’s “Literati” sketches, see Letters ... of Simms, 2: 174-77.

a equally as bad] Another redundancy. [column 2:] See May 1835 -1 note d 1.

a1 Poe again comments on a favorite target: authors’ fawning dedications.

b French “convulsives”] Poe discusses “convulsive” fiction in his commentary on Eugene Sue’s sMysteries of Paris; see Pollin 2: 292-95.

January 1836 - 3 Title: Charles Joseph Latrobe. The Rambler in North America, 1832-33. New York: Harper & Brothers, 1835. SLM text: 121-22. John H. B. Latrobe was one of the three judges in the Baltimore Saturday Visiter contest in October 1833, in which Poe won first prize for fiction. Poe may have known of the relationship between the English and American branches of the Latrobe family.

a Dan to Beersheba] Judges 20.1; 1 Samuel 3.20. As was his custom, Poe is defensive about the critical remarks of English visitors.

January 1836 - 4 Title: [Joseph Holt Ingraham]. The South-West. New York: Harper & Brothers, 1835. SLM text: pp. 123-24. Ingraham, whose several occupations included stints as teacher and minister, was best known as the prolific author of historical romances. Poe reviewed his Lafitte in the August 1836 SLM. A later work, The Prince of the House of David, was a sensational bestseller.

a caviare to the multitude] This varies Hamlet’s “caviar to the general” (2.2.465).

b slavery] This defense of slavery and the concomitant attack on abolitionist views reflect the editorial position of the SLM. However, there is no reason to doubt that these comments represent Poe’s personal views.

* ore / are

January 1836 - 5 Title: Sarah Stickney. The Poetry of Life. Philadelphia: Carey, Lea, & Blanchard, 1835. SLM text: pp. 123-24 After she wed in 1837 the Rev. William Ellis, an English missionary to the South Seas and author of Polynesian Researches, Sarah Stickney was known by her married name. Following this early work, Mrs. Ellis published many [page 102:] volumes of poetry, fiction, and moral instruction. In his last paragraph Poe mocks her uncompromising earnestness.

a For Poe’s admiration of Shelley, see Pollin 2: 357-60.

January 1836 - 6 Title: Catharine M. Sedgwick. Tales and Sketches. Philadelphia: Carey, Lea, & Blanchard, 1835. SLM text: p. 124. Sedgwick was a frequent contributor to gift books and annuals, such as the Atlantic Souvenir and Youth’s Keepsake.

a Poe had reviewed The Linwoods in the previous issue. He used much of this material in his praise of Sedgwick’s work in “The Literati” sketch in Godey’s (September 1846).

b Facilis ... Averni] “The descent to Hell is easy.” Virgil, Aeneid 6.126. Used also in “The Purloined Letter” (Mabbott 3: 993), in both with an error for “Averno.”

January 1836 - 7 Title: Francis Lieber. Reminiscences of an Intercourse with Mr. Niebuhr. ... Philadelphia: Carey, Lea, & Blanchard, 1835. SLM text: pp. 12527. Barthold Georg Niebuhr was born in Copenhagen. At the time Lieber met him he was Prussian ambassador to the Vatican. His notable history of Rome was published 1811-32. Francis Lieber, born in Berlin, served at the age of fifteen in the Prussian army at Waterloo; later he fought for Greek independence. In 1827 he came to the United States and, as noted, commenced the preparation of the Encyclopædia Americana. He was an influential professor of history and economics at South Carolina College and later at Columbia College in New York City. At T. W. White’s behest, Poe solicited him for a contribution; see John Ostrom, “Fourth Supplement to The Letters of Poe,” American Literature 45 (January 1974): 514. In response, Lieber submitted “A Reminiscence,” published in the August 1836 SLM, pp. 535-38. Poe commented on him in “Autography” in the August 1836 SLM, p. 603; see also August 1836 - 11.

a Gesta Romanorum] A medieval collection of moralized Latin tales; a source [column 2:] for Chaucer and Shakespeare. For “the monk,” see Pollin 2: 88-89.

b Encyclopædia Americana] Poe drew on this work for “The Gold-Bug” and other tales. See Mabbott 3: 847, 1176, 1196, 1198.

c bonhommie / bonhomie] This is probably Poe’s own spelling.

* näiveté / na├»veté] For Poe’s idiosyncratic use of the dieresis — placing it over the first vowel-see Pollin 2: xxxviii-xl.

* teturned / returned

* Inspruck / Innsbruck] This may be Poe’s own spelling or a misreading of his hand by a compositor.

January 1836 - 8 Title: [Anon.] The Young Wife’s Book. Philadelphia: Carey, Lea, & Blanchard, 1835. SLM text: p. 127.

a biblical] The OED does not record any use of this word in the sense of “bibliographical.”

b primâ facie] The error in punctuation raises again the problem of Poe’s punctuation of Latin words. The use of a circumflex instead of a macron (long horizontal line) over the vowel appears to be his own idiosyncrasy.

January 1836 - 9 Title: [Daniel Defoe]. The Life and Surprising Adventures of Robinson Crusoe. New York: Harper & Brothers, 1835. SLM text: pp. 127-28. In reviewing a translation of Euripides (September 1835 - 5), Poe had turned to a secondary source for material in order to give his remarks a tone of erudition. Here he employs a second technique-incorporating details and phraseology derived directly from the work reviewed. As Pollin demonstrates at length in “Poe and Daniel Defoe: A Significant Relationship” (Topic 16 [1976]: 3-22), the information about Defoe and his works is “almost entirely a restatement” of the anonymous “Biographical Sketch of Daniel Defoe,” printed as a preface in the Harper edition (pp. ix-xxiii). Poe must have felt secure that few of his readers would use this edition to check up on him. If anyone did, he could have pointed to his occasional use of quotation marks to protect himself against the charge of [page 103:] plagiarism. In discussing the relevancy of this review to Poe’s developing theory of fiction, particularly the importance of verisimilitude, Pollin issues a salutary warning to critics: We must be careful not to cite Poe’s critical remarks as distinctively his own until we have first examined the prefaces and texts of the specific editions he was reviewing. Robinson Crusoe itself would contribute to Poe’s The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym (see the Index to Pollin 1 for citations).

a Vapid] Poe again quotes from Frederick Reynolds’s The Dramatist. See December 1835 - 9.

b “undiscovered bournes”] A misquotation of Hamlet 3.1.79: “The undiscovered country from whose bourne / No traveller returns. ...

c Scoresby ... Ross & Co.] Poe had mentioned these explorers in his notice of The Edinburgh Review (December 1835 - 4). Paul Pry is the eponymous hero of an 1825 comedy by John Poole.

* Christendom? / Christendom!] The compositor probably misread Poe’s exclamation point as a query.

* ourselves? / ourselves!] See preceding note.

d identification] See Poe’s review of Hazlitt in 1845 for his application of this idea to Hamlet (Pollin 3: 212, 4: 165).

* Jaque / Jacque

* materiel / matériel

e worthy of all praise] Pollin comments that actually the book is not very well printed, its woodcuts are not first-rate, and the text is badly edited. He speculates that here, as elsewhere in his reviews, Poe may have been seeking the favor of a potential publisher of his tales.

January 1836 - 10 Title: [Anon.]. The Christian Florist. Philadelphia: Carey, Lea, & Blanchard, 1835. SLM text: p. 128.

a bigotry] Poe’s use of the word suggests that the objection was to Moore’s being Irish and a Roman Catholic. Moore had an enormous influence on Poe. See Pollin, “Light on ’Shadow’ and Other Pieces by Poe; or, More of Thomas Moore,” Emerson Society Quarterly 18 (1972): 166-73.






[S:0 - BRP5S, 1997] - Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - Editions - The Collected Writings of Edgar Allan Poe (B. R. Pollin) (January 1836 (Notes))