Text: Various, “MARGINALIA,” Poe Studies, December 1972, Vol. V, No. 2, 5:50-57


[page 50, column 2:]



This column is devoted to brief notes, comments, queries. We wish to provide here an outlet for such items as source notes which do not require the extended argument and proof that customarily attends them, and for items of very special or peculiar interest which otherwise might not appear. Contributions to this column should generally be one paragraph in form and less than a page and a half of typescript, though notes of three pages with as many paragraphs are acceptable. 


Conflict and Motive in “The Cask of Amontillado”

Critical commentary on “The Cask of Amontillado” has tended to dismiss the question of Montresor’s motive in killing Fortunato, but the tone of the story betrays a narrator confused and troubled by the guilt of a vengeful murder that has deprived him of spiritual peace and sanctifying grace, though convinced of the righteousness of his act. His uneasy conscience has become a kind of retribution for his crime, and the benediction “In pace requiescat” at the conclusion of the story is ironic in the light of his spiritual isolation and psychological unrest and his knowledge that his own soul is damned by mortal sin. Fortunato and Montresor were political enemies but they can also be regarded as religious ones, for Montresor’s act of killing Fortunato is motivated, I suggest, by a faithful Catholic’s hatred and fear of the brotherhood of Freemasonry. [See Marvin Felheim, “The Cask of Amontillado,” Notes and Queries, 199 (1954), 447-448; Donald Pearce, Notes and Queries, 199 (1954), 448-449; and Kathryn Montgomery Harris, “Ironic Revenge in Poe’s ‘The Cask of Amontillado,’” Studies in Short Fiction, 6 ( 1969), 333-335, for important discussions of the Catholic-Masonic conflict.] The last exchange of words between Fortunato and Montresor reveals Montresor’s motive: “‘for the lore of God, Montresor!’ ‘Yes,’ I said, ‘for the love of God!’” Montresor is not merely echoing Fortunato’s oath or plea but is offering a reason, however cryptically expressed, for his fiendish act. Montresor’s execution of vengeance against Fortunato, partaking somewhat of Old Testament morality, is the work of a man who believes he must protect God’s word and His Church against His enemies and who demonstrates his “love” of God in this deed of sacrifice. A defender of the faith, Montresor may also be like the prophet who feels the command of God to undertake a mission of retributive justice. In addition, he may be the political man who has felt his family name and heritage threatened by the power and domination of a faithless secret society. As Felheim notes, when Monttesor refers to Fortunato’s death early in the story as an “immolation,” he is suggesting a kind of religious sacrifice, with himself designated as the sacrificial priest.

That the conflict can be defined as one between political and religious enemies is substantiated if we look very briefly at anti-Catholic themes in the Gothic fiction of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries and at the history of Freemasonry which Poe must have been aware of. Such famous Gothic novels as Lewis’ The Monk, Mrs. Radcliffe’s The Italian and Maturin’s Melmoth the Wanderer portray monastic life as wretched and perverted. As Devendra Varma points out, there are no direct attacks against Catholic theology, but “the anti-Catholic note is struck again and again in the Gothic novels.” [The Gothic Flame (London: Arthur Barker, Ltd., 1957), pp. 171, 219-220.] Such a Gothic writer as Maturin satirized the abuses of religion and the omnipotence of the Catholic Church, as he saw them. In Gothic novels the garb of the votary frequently masks an assassin and the cloister often imprisons its inhabitants scenes of the Inquisition, such as those in The Italian (cf. “The Pit and the Pendulum”) evoke the terror of a powerful political as well as religious institution. Poe’s story differs of course in [page 51:] not being anti-Catholic — Poe passes no judgment on his two characters — but the theme of religious conflict in his story finds an interesting antecedent in the earlier Gothic fiction.

Although the time of Poe’s story is unclear, it could be set during the period of forthright Catholic reaction against Freemasonry: by the eighteenth century some Masons of the French, Italian and other Latin lodges were hostile to the Church, and in 1738 Pope Clement XII condemned Freemasonry in his bull, In Eminenti. Clement declared that those who joined the fraternity were excommunicated because the beliefs of Freemasonry made it a secretive and pagan religion and a possible threat to Church and state; also, he condemned the oaths and ritual. After 1738 many of the largely Catholic countries tried to suppress Freemasonry. [The best short histories of Freemasonry are in Encyclopaedia Britannica ( 1970) and New Catholic Encyclopedia.] As a Freemason and thus a heretic Fortunato would automatically be excommunicated and therefore in Montresor’s deranged mind without the benefits of communion in the Catholic Church, no better than the infidels whom the Crusaders killed. And as a political enemy of the Church Fortunato would be a threat to its secular domination. Also, his Masonic sign, which Montresor calls “grotesque,” would be, by the command of the Pope, offensive. Montresor appointed himself the agent of retribution against this enemy of God and cleverly turned Fortunato’s Freemasonry against him in the plan of the murder, but it is not surprising that as a faithful Catholic Montresor should later be disturbed by his deed, even if he cannot define those feelings nor experience genuine remorse. His discontent is intensified by a strong sense that his wrongs have not been wholly redressed, that he has failed in his vengeance against this religious and political enemy. Because of the complexity of his motivations and personality, Montresor is a character of considerable importance and interest in Gothic fiction. On account of its irony “The Cask of Amontillado” can be read in a variety of ways, not the least of which should take cognizance of the CatholicMasonic conflict, the source of which can be traced to both fact and fiction.

James E. Rocks, Loyola University of Chicago


Poetic Justice in “The Cask of Amontillado”

A Roman Catholic aristocrat takes revenge on his Freemason enemy by walling him into a corner of the family catacombs, thus destroying his life and freedom by masonry. To most readers this is an audacious pun, but to anti-Masonic readers it is poetic justice as well: the remains of Fortunato, the hapless Mason, will lie among the bones of his Roman Catholic enemies, the “great and numerous” Montresors, while the present Montresor lives on. Anti-Masonic readers may be few today, but in the 1840’s they too would have been numerous. There were even more anti-Catholic readers, and many would have hated both in those Know-Nothing days. The very genre of “The Cask of Amontillado,” the Gothic tale, assumes a Protestant audience ready to believe the worst about monks and nuns and to pity poor Protestants under their power. For this audience Poe constructs a correlative dramatic irony, far subtler in its machinery than was usual for Gothic tales. The irony is generated by the opening and closing paragraphs, spoken to somebody in the present and framing the tale which Montresor tells to “you, who so well know the nature of my soul.” Encountering these words at the outset, the reader assumes that he is being addressed, but as the horror mounts, and as we discover in the final paragraph that the events took place fifty years ago, a more distant relationship of reader to teller takes shape. We are overhearing the confession of a dying man whose confessor, although he may know the nature of Montresor’s soul, is ignorant of his greatest secret. That (or this tale) is triumphantly told as Montresor prepares to take his treasure, his apparently successful revenge, into the grave, free from retribution — or so he thinks. This freedom is necessary to revenge, for according to Montresor “a wrong is unredressed when retribution overtakes its redresser.” But vengeance is the Lord’s — as Poe’s contemporaries would have [column 2:] known — and despite the Montresors’ motto (nemo me impssne lacessit), in a Christian universe no private vengeance can be exacted with impunity, and a mortal sin unrepented brings eternal retribution even when it is confessed — especially when it is “confessed’ with relish. The Protestant Christian audience (and here Poe has his own irony to savor) can indulge their ideological hatreds by justly condemning Montresor to hell on the strength of his professed beliefs which, in this matter, they share. He or his confessor may say “In pace requiescat!” but Poe’s contemporary audience sends him howling to hell. Any modern reader able to share that audience’s response will more fully enjoy the rich ironic effects of this tale.

Kent Bales, University of Minnesota


Three Observations on “Amontillado” and Lolita

George P. Clark’s final point in “A Further Word on Poe and Lolita “ [PN, 3 (1970), 39] strikes me as a misreading of the Poe story. Clark says both Montresor and Humbert Humbert feel revulsion at the end of their respective dramas; that Nabokov’s phrase “with a heavy heart” is the equivalent of Montresor’s “My heart grew sick.” Clark neglects to finish Poe’s sentence, however, and thereby misses the irony attached to the character of Montresor. The line reads: “My heart grew sick; on account of the dampness of the catacombs.” In other words, Montresor feels nothing at all of guilt or remorse or revulsion over his crime. The first part of the sentence sets up a surmise that he does, but the second part kills the idea. Montresor wants to leave in a hurry not because he is murdering an old acquaintance, but because it is chilly and damp down there in the cellar.

William Goldhurst, University of Florida

Please allow me to comment briefly on Mr. George P. Clark’s “A Further Word on Poe and Lolita “ [PN, 3 (1970), 39]. Mr. Clark notes that neither 1, in my Annotated Lolita, nor any earlier commentators have noticed “the incidental parody of ‘The Cask of Amontillado’ in Chapter 35 of Lolita.” I did indeed notice a few loose parallels between the two, and asked Vladimir Nabakov if he had intended a parody. He had not, he said, nor did he remember the tale, which he probably read as a boy. I should have included in my edition an “anti-annotation” to that effect (“Nabokov did not intend . . . .”), as I do in several other instances. Of course, everyone knows that the problem of intention is controversial and arguable, but Mr. Nabokov is the most conscious and self-conscious of artists, and in regard to literary allusions and parodies (as opposed to “symbolism” and “allegory”) he is nothing if not in total control.

Alfred Appel, Jr., Northwestern University

Vladimir Nabokov’s statement to Mr. Appel apparently sufficed to satisfy the latter’s curiosity about “a few loose parallels” between Fortunato’s murder and that of Clare Quilty, this despite the fact that Mr. Appel has elsewhere written t”Lolita: The Springboard of Parody,” in Nabokov: The Man and His Work (Madison: Univ. of Wisconsin Press, 1967), p. 135] that in the Pavor Manor chapter “All the novel’s parodic themes are concluded . . . .” The similarities now seem all the more interesting, for it appears that Nabakov could have Poe’s work very much in mind while writing Lolita and yet be entirely unaware of certain parallels, however loose, between the high point of his narrative and that of a famous Poe story he had read long ago. In this instance, Nabokov’s memory appears to have been heard without speaking — and to very good purpose. There is little I can say to the reader who feels that Montresor is sick at heart because the dampness of the catacombs has chilled him to the bone. I have always supposed the words following the semicolon (hastily plastered to the first of the sentence, the joint still showing) could be taken to indicate the improvised quality of Montresor’s specious explanation.

George P. Clark, Hanover College [page 52:]


“The Murders in the Rue Morgue” and “Doctor D’Arsac”: A Poe Source

Arthur Hobson Quinn [Edgar Allan Poe: A Critical Biography (New York and London: Appleton-Century, 1941), pp. 310-311] has pointed to a series of stories, “Unpublished Passages in the Life of Vidocq, the French Minister of Police,” by “J.M.B.,” published in Burton’s Gentleman’s Magazine between September 1838 and May 1839 (Quinn incorrectly gives the terminal date as December 1838), as a possible source for the name of Poe’s detective, since the heroine of the first story, “Marie Laurent,” bears the maiden name “Dupin.” [See Michael Harrison’s “Dupin: The Reality Behind the Fiction,” in The Exploits of the Chevalier Dupin (Sauk City, Wisconsin: Mycroft & Moran, 1968) for a different speculation.] A further similarity between the second story, “Doctor D’Arsac” (October 1838), and “The Murders in the Rue Morgue” supports Quinn’s theory that Poe knew the series. It is not unlikely that Poe read it. At the time he was living in Philadelphia, where the Gentleman’s Magazine was published; and in July 1839 he became its co-editor, beginning his contact with William Burton, the owner, some two months earlier.

The “Unpublished Passages” are a poor attempt to capitalize upon the considerable legend which Vidocq had built up for himself, primarily with the publication of his ghost-written Memoires in 1828 and 1829 “J.M.B.’s” “Vidocq” bears little resemblance either to the racy original or to Poe’s Dupin. In “Doctor D’Arsac” he even appears obtuse. The story deals with the murder of Madame Audran, a rich elderly invalid, found brutally killed in her apartment; her physician, Doctor D’Arsac, brings the case to Vidocq. Madame Audran’s valuables have been stolen, yet her rooms show no sign of forced entry. Vidocq concludes that the murderer must have been known to the victim and gained entrance under the pretense of a friendly visit. And here, rather casually, he lets the matter rest. Shortly afterwards D’Arsac inherits money from a mysterious uncle and becomes engaged. At his wedding one of the guests recognizes that a brooch the groom had given to his bride belonged to Madame Audran. The denouement is obvious: Vidocq accosts D’Arsac, who confesses to murdering the old lady for her money. He is arrested and sentenced to death, but commits suicide in the condemned cell. Prostrate with grief, his bride secludes herself and soon dies.

Granted that this trite little story is but a pale precursor of “Rue Morgue,” one striking detail common to both stories should be noted. Vidocq describes his visit to the scene of the murder: “I accompanied him [D’Arsac] to her rooms, and found, as he had stated, the poor old woman lying in her bed, with her throat cut so as almost to sever the head from the body” [3, 246, my italics]. The bloody detail appears to have stuck in Poe’s mind, for he elaborated upon it in describing the discovery of Madame L’Espanaye’s body. In the first published version of “Rue Morgue,” “. . . the party made its way into a small paved yard in the rear of the building, where lay the corpse of the old lady, with her throat so entirely cut that, apon an attempt to raise her, the head fell off, and rolled to some distance “ [Graham’s Lady’s and Gentleman’s Magazine, 18 (April 1841), 169, my italics]. In the revised form in which the tale is usually printed, the final touch of horror — the head rolling “to some distance” — is omitted, but the essentials of the scene and their similarity to Madame Audran’s death remain. There are more general similarities between the stories: in both the victim is an old lady with a large amount of money whose apartment is entered with “no appearance of force” [3, 246]. It is the differences, however, which Poe wrought from similar details that best reveal his craft. Where “J.M.B.” opts for the simplest explanation of the absence of a forced entry, Poe devises an intricate locked room puzzle. Poe makes the unimaginative detective not the hero, as “J.M.B.” does, but the hero’s foil. Finally, greed, the real motive for the crime in the earlier story, becomes in Poe the motive which the police incorrectly guess at, the only interpretation of which their limited imaginations are capable.

Ian V. K. Ousby, Teaching Fellow, Harvard University [column 2:]


An Arabian Source for Poe’s “The Pit and the Pendulum”

D. L. Clark in “The Sources of Poe’s ‘The Pit and the Pendulum’ “ [MLN, 44 (1929), 349-356] and Margaret Alterton in “An Additional Source for Poe’s ‘The Pit and the Pendulum’ “ [MLN, 48 (1933), 349-365] have thrown extensive light on the sources Poe may have used for his tale. There exists still another source that may have been germinal in the creation of Poe’s tale, George Sale’s commentary and translation of the Koran. Poe’s knowledge of the Koran may be inferred from his poems “Al-Aaraaf” and “Israfel.” Poe documented his familiarity with Sale in a note to his “The Thousand-and-Second Tale of Scheherazade” [Works, ed. Harrison, VI, 96], while Burton R. Pollin’s Dictionary of Names and Titles in Poe’s Collected Works ( 1968) lists several references to the Koran [Works, XIV, 38; XVI, 30, 41, 175]. As Killis Campbell in The Poems of Edgar Allan Poe [(Boston: Ginn & Co., 1917), p. 205] observes, Poe’s “early first-hand acquaintance with Sale is pretty well established by his notes on Al-Aaraaf.” (Sale’s notes to the Koranic chapter “The Celestial Signs” refer also to Chapter 7, “Al-Araf.”) T. O. Mabbott has also recognized this knowledge in his notes to “Al-Aaraaf” [Collected Works of Edgar Allan Poe: Vol. I, Poems (Cambridge: Harvard Univ. Press, 1969), 95-96]. L. Moffit Cecil’s essay “Poe’s Arabesque,” Comparative Literature, 28 (1966), 55-69, discusses at some length Poe’s knowledge of the Koran and other Arabian sources. In view of this evidence it may justifiably be assumed that Poe came across the following passage occurring very early in Sale’s commentary:

One of whom, Yusef surname Dhu Nowas, was remarkable for his zeal and terrible persecution of all who would not turn Jews, putting them to death by various tortures the most common of which was throwing them into a glowing pit of fire, whence he had the opprobrious appellation of the Lord of the Pit. [(New York: Frederick Warne, 1887), P. 17]

In his note to this passage, Sale refers the readers to the Koranic text in Chapter 85 entitled “The Celestial Signs” that also concerns the same “pit”:

By the promised day of judgement: by the witness and the witnessed; cursed were the contrivers of the pit, of fire supplied with the fuel, when they sat around the same, and were witnesses of what they did against the true believers: and they afflicted them for no other reason, bur because they believed in the mighty, the glorious God, unto whom belongeth the kingdom of heaven and earth: Verily for those who persecute the true believers of either sex, and afterwards repent not, us prepared the torment of hell. Hath not the story of the hosts of Pharaoh and of Thamud reached thee? Yet the unbelievers cease not to accuse the divine revelations of falsehood [pp. 442-43]

Beyond the use of the pit as a means of torture, this quotation provides significant correspondences to other recurrent Poe themes. For one thing, Poe’s references to the Day of Judgment may have their source here as well as in the Bible, as David Hirsch has documented in “The Pit and the Apocalypse” [Sewanee Review, 76 (1968), 632-652]. From the Koran may also stem Poe’s related theme of retribution overtaking the executioners. In the motto and the tale, Poe refers to the Spanish Inquisitors and the French Jacobins; both eventually victimized themselves. It was largely the passage of time — the swinging pendulum — that brought them to destruction. The Inquisitors and Jacobins also correspond to “the hosts of Pharaoh and of Thamud” who willfully surrendered themselves to evil. Such thematic affinities argue for the Koran as one of Poe’s sources.

Athar Murtuza, Washington State University


A Further Word on Richard Wright’s Use of Poe in Native Son

Echoes of Poe are evident in almost all of Richard Wright’s fiction. There are several general parallels between Poe and Wright — stylistic qualities, for instance, and the use of black, white, and red color imagery. In Native Son, the evidence of Poe’s influence on Wright is more specific. Michel Fabre’s recent Poe Studies article, “Black Cat and White Cat: Richard Wright’s Debt to Edgar Allan Poe” [4 (1971), 17-19] explores Wright’s basic Poesque characteristics, especially in Native Son. Also, Dan McCall in his The Example of Richard Wright [New [page 53:] York: Harcourt, Brace & World, 1969, p. 71] has a brief discussion of Poe’s “The Black Cat” as the source for Wright’s symbolic, ironic inversion of the white cat in Native Son. McCall only mentions, however, the influence of “The Murders in the Rue Morgue,” and this point deserves exploration. Bigger Thomas, Wright’s protagonist, first smothers the young girl, Mary Dalton. He then takes her body to the furnace room of the Dalton home, cuts off her head with a hatchet, and stuffs her body into the furnace. The parallels are evident in the double murder in “The Murders in the Rue Morgue”: the first victim is strangled and her body stuffed into the chimney, the second victim’s head is severed with a razor. Later in the novel the reasons for Wright’s use of Poe become more apparent. In both “The Murders in the Rue Morgue” and Native Son there are sensational and short-sighted newspaper accounts of the murders. In the early series of articlff in Poe’s story, the murderer is assumed to be a man — multilingual and physically powerful. And by means of a later, rather incidental article, Dupin discovers that the real murderer is a missing orang-utan. In Native Son, the murderer is described by Chicago newspapers as an animal: “‘He looks exactly like an ape!’ exclaimed a terrified young white girl who watched the black slayer being loaded onto a stretcher after he had fainted. Though the Negro killer’s body doff not seem compactly built, he gives the impression of possessing abnormal physical strength. . . . His lower jaw protrudes obnoxiously, reminding one of a jungle beast. . . . All in all, he seems a beast utterly untouched by the softening influences of modern civilization. . . . He acted like an earlier missing link in the human species” [New York: Harper & Row, p. 260]. Poe’s murderer, then, an ape, is assumed by the authorities to be a man; Wright’s murderer, a man, is assumed to be an ape. It is through this ironic inversion of Poe’s story that Wright reinforces one of the central themes of his novel — the white man’s failure to recognize the essential humanity of the black man and the desperation to which he has been driven. Thus through a knowledge of Poe, Wright’s irony can be fully appreciated.

Linda T. Prior, Detroit, Michigan


Classical Raven Lore and Poe’s Raven

Several reasons for Poe’s choice of bird for the harbinger of despair in “The Raven” are manifest: ravens can be taught to speak, they have a reputation for following armies and relishing death, and their dark plumage suggests melancholy and gloom. More subtle and ironic significance, however, can be found in the curious traditions which have accrued to this dark bird, associating him with wisdom, deviousness, and messenger service. In Hebrew folklore the raven, originally white, was turned black in punishment for not returning to the ark when Noah sent him out to check the flood conditions. His failure to return when he learned the waters were receding was attributed to bestial appetite, for which he was constrained ever after to feed on carrion. In Norse mythology Odin possessed two ravens, Hugin and Mugin, representing the mind and the will and thus symbolic of intelligence and power. Classical mythology has Pallas, the embodiment of wisdom, as the raven’s original master, a tradition Poe evidently drew upon in perching his raven on her white bust. And in Ovid (Metamorphoses, Book II), the raven again was white before Apollo made it black for tattling about his beloved’s unfaithfulness. Like Apollo’s, Poe’s raven is all too eager to deliver his unwelcome message of unfaithfulness — this time of the ultimate unfaithfulness of death. But the tradition most strikingly appropriate to Poe’s poem is that which invests the raven as the symbol of hope. The sound the raven makes which we transcribe as “caw” the Greeks and Romans transliterated into the Greek word “cras,” meaning “tomorrow.” The raven represented hope, then, for all the reasons that “tomorrow” suggests hope or gives reason for optimism. Although this association of the raven with hope was not widespread — neither Pliny nor Ovid mentions it — Seutonius makes it in Twelve Caesars, a common school text and one very likely used by Poe. It is as a bearer of hope that Poe’s persona initially greets his raven, as bringing “Respite, respite and nepenthe / From this memory of Lenore.” The [column 2:] bird, however, speaks not with the Greek word “cras,” “tomorrow,” but the exact reverse, “Nevermore,” the message not of hope but of despair. Though the persona first thinks the bird has been “taught” mechanically to repeat his single word, a pattern of sense soon emerges, the message that his lover’s death is total and final, without hope even of reunion after death in the “distant Aidenn.” It is difficult to believe that this inversion is mere coincidence; the specific relevance of the words as well as the patness of the reversal are simply too logical and appropriate. Rather, the raven’s value as a symbol of hope and the ironic reversal of that value seem central to the conception of the poem, certainly to the choice of the particular word Poe’s raven speaks. In the course of the poem, the raven develops and modifies this and its other associations, becoming more and more a private symbol, more and more a dream or hallucinatory figure generated by the persona’s emotional bankruptcy, increasingly symbolizing private spiritual dryness rather than personal lamentation for a specific loss. As such, the raven figure has often been taken as a contrivance with a significance largely unearned, ultimately without objective correlative. But the private symbol is confirmed and contained by an objective logic and system of reference. The traditional associations of the raven serve to broaden the ironic dimension and range of application of the private symbol, improving its logic and consistency, enriching its significance, raising it above a mere macabre hallucination.

John F. Adams, Washington State University


Devil Lore in “The Raven”

So much emphasis has been placed upon Poe’s essay of “The Philosophy of Composition” with its carefully crafted analysis of the creation of “The Raven” that other ways of looking at the poem are generally neglected. I wish to offer here an explication of the folklore context in the poem which gives perhaps a better reason for Poe’s selecting the raven as the bird of ill omen than that which his essay suggests. For it is the folkloric connotation of the raven as the Devil’s bird and as one of the forms he takes upon occasion for convenience which makes clear exactly why the young man will never again see his lost Lenore. It’s not simply that she is dead. It is that he has damned himself. It is no mistake that the month is “bleak December” rather than an equally dreary November. The forces of darkness are never more powerful than during the high holy days of the Christian year, and December, with its share of the twelve days of Christmas, ranks foremost. The mention of “each separate dying ember [which] wrought its ghost upon the floor,” is reminiscent of Coleridge’s “Christabel” in which other embers reflect the presence of evil in much the same way. The “many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore” may very well be books of black magic which the protagonist studies in order to raise the ghost of his beloved, and so attain “surcease of sorrow.” In his semi-somnolent state it does not occur to him that he has actually raised something by his endeavors, for he mistakes the odd tapping for that of a midnight visitor. The darkness and silence he meets when he opens his door lead him in to strange musings, not in the least lightened by his own whisper of “Lenore?” It evolves, of course, that the tapping is at his window, through which a raven steps into his room and at once takes its position on a bust of Pallas. That the bird should perch on the representation of the goddess of wisdom is suitable, for the protagonist had been seeking mastery of dangerous knowledge. At first the young man is somewhat amused by his visitor. The first ominous indication arises from the student’s ah-poor-me comment that the raven will no doubt leave just as all others have: the bird states, “Nevermore.” Further, the student admits his Hopes have all fled; this is what happens to those who commit suicide, and it is the only unpardonable sin in Christian belief: the total loss of Hope. In such a state he is ready to be claimed by the Devil. That repeated “Nevermore” with its implications of hopeless eternity has a sobering effect on the protagonist. For the moment he continues to find some rational explanation for the aptness of the single word to his situation. But it becomes clear that this is no ordinary raven “whose fiery eyes burned into [the student’s] bosom core.” In folklore, the Devil’s eyes [page 54:] become fiery when he is about to seize a soul. The reference may imply the casting of a spell (the evil eye) on the young man. In any event, there is no more mention of smiling. Although overcome by a paroxysm of grief, the student imagines he detects fragrance from a censer, perhaps even the presence of good spirits come to give him solace, which he should seize and hold. It is not to be. The raven croaks his indomitable sentence of doom, “Nevermore.” There is a rapidly rising pitch to the poem from this point to its conclusion. The forlorn student addresses the raven directly as “Prophet still, if bird or devil” (my italics), and demands to know, calling upon Heaven and God as witnesses, whether he will after death again clasp his beloved. Again the word, “Nevermore.” This reply sends the protagonist into a fury: “bird or fiend,” he shrieks, no longer doubting its identity. Frantic, he orders the raven to leave: “Take thy beak from out my heart, and take thy form from off my door!” The student’s doom becomes clear with the raven’s final “Nevermore.” The protagonist, in seeking to bring Lenore back from the dead — if only for a moment — has succeeded in selling his own soul to the Devil. Never again will he escape a destiny he has brought upon himself. The evil bird sits dreaming on the bust of Pallas as the lamplight throws its shadow on the floor. Submerged in that shadow is the soul of the student: “And my soul from out that shadow that lies floating on the floor/ Shall be lifted — nevermore!” When one sells his soul to the Devil. the first manifestation is the loss of one’s own shadow, for it has united with all that is the Devil’s.

Byrd Howell Granger, University of Arizona


“The Raven” and the Chair

In addition to the literary precedents Poe made use of in devising his talking bird in “The Raven,” there may also be biographical sources for his interest in ravens. One may lie in an uncommon black wooden chair in the Poe Shrine in Richmond, Virginia, which the staff there attests to be from the dining suite of the John Allan family. Mounted on its high cane back (and duplicated on the cross piece between the two front legs) is a carved bird with wings outspread, bearing an unmistakable likeness to a raven, which, I suggest, may have been a subconscious source for the bird and its import. In The Life and Works of Edgar Allan Poe (London: Imago Pub. Co., 1949), Marie Bonaparte comments that “The Raven,” like much of Poe’s work, shows the imposition of “the lost-love motif” whereby Poe, separated from his dying mother as a child and brought into the Allan household, manifests the urge to regain his lost mother — a pattern Bonaparte finds governing the poet’s personal relationship with women as well. For the Princess Bonaparte, the sisterhood of lost loves that A. H. Quinn and others have noted conceals the original lost love of his mother; and Poe, always so much the conscious literary strategist on one level, is, on another level, finally unaware of the hidden “cause” and desired “effect” (within himself) of his writings. “But who, then, is this Raven?” Bonaparte asks. “For a long time I was at a loss and it was only when analysing Annabel Lee that I realized its identity with the ‘highborn kinsmen’ who separate the poet from his Annabel Lee. Like them, the Raven is a father figure, an Oedipus father symbol placed between mother and child” (p. 131). At the risk of seeming to exchange the hard and palpable reality of the raven chair for the subjective ease of the psychoanalyst’s couch, I would suggest that the former, a steady feature of the Allan dining room, could well have been fixed in young Poe’s mind as an emblem of John Allan. And the Richmond merchant’s succession to guardianship of the poet (with all attending ill feelings between them) may, in the logic of childhood, have been felt by Poe as the “cause” of the loss of his mother. The unvarying utterance of the bird — ”Nevermore” — then easily seems the appropriate verbal expression of Allan’s role in Poe’s life, a role that (again, to the child’s mind) “put an end” to his earlier life with his mother. Only “The Raven,” it is interesting to note, was published by Poe under a particular nom de plume which, in this context, seems oddly like a nom de guerre: “Quarles.”

Miles D. Orvell, Temple University [column 2:]


Lucretius and “The City in the Sea”

The high concentration of parallels between Lucretius’ De Rersum Natura and “The City in the Sea” suggests that the classical work is a major source for Poe’s poem. Lucretius’ Book V, in which thirty-five of eighty-five consecutive lines bear parallels with Poe, is especially pertinent. In pointing out these similarities, I shall refer, unless otherwise noted, to John Mason Good’s translation of 1805 (London), probably the best of the six English translations available to Poe. [John Selby Watson, trans., On the Nature of Things (London, 1904), p. xxi, agrees with William Augustus Merrill, ed. De Rerum Natura ( New York, 1907), pp. 11-56, that “Good is still the best verse translation in English” almost a century after its first appearance. Poe might, of course, have read Lucretius in the original.] In the first place, many affinities in diction and imagery may be found in the two works [Killis Campbell, “Poe’s Indebtedness to Byron,” Nation (11 March 1909), p. 249, believed Byron’s “Darkness” the foremost source, yet admitted that “there are no verbal agreements between the two poems.”], as seen in the following representative pairings: “with its filmy drapery veils the heavens” [Lucretius, V, 485], and “A void within the filmy Heaven” [Poe, 47]; “‘Twixt earth and ether, in the midway air/ . . . So ‘twixt the two they hovered” [Lucretius, V, 490-495], and “That all seemed pendulous in air” [Poe, 27]. Imagery intertwining light and liquid is central to both poems. In describing the “melancholy” and “hideously serene” sea, Poe echoes several passages from Book V of Lucretius:

the bright stream below

Then fades, and all the sickening scene is shade, [302-303]

Concentrated close, and to the lowliest base

Fell, the foul faeces of th’ unfolding world:

While ocean, air, and ether filled with fire,

Sprang from the remnant atoms more refined.

Yet these, too, differed; for though liquid all,

And light, most liquid, and in heaven sublime

Hence loftiest towered it, never mingling once

With the rude tummults of the lowlier air. [515-523]

As flows the undevious Euxine, and preserves

One ceaseless tenor, limpid and serene. [527-528]

Further, something much like Poe’s climactic image of the simultaneous sinking of an inactive city and rising of a fiery hell is found in Lucretius. The Latin poet recounts

Long since, all matter to the extremes” depth

Had sunk supine . . . . [1, 1043 - 1044]

Flame triumphed once, and once the boisterous waves

Leaped o’er their boundaries, and the world engulfed. [V, 410-411]

. . . much next of earth

Subsided sudden, and the gulf disclosed

Where ocean rolls his blue and briny tide.

And as th’ ethereal gas, and solar blaze

Flowed more profuse, and lashed, with ceaseless rage, [V, 499-504]

the seeds terrene. . . .

. . . towards the center conglobating sunk.

And, as the bond grew firmer ampler forth

Pressed they the fluent essences that reared [V, 467-471]

The huge and elevated figure of Poe’s Death, who “from a proud tower in the town/ . . . Iooks gigantically down,” is akin to Lucretius’ figure in Book 1:

Them long the tyrant power

Of Superstition swayed, uplifting proud

Her head to heaven, and with horrific limbs

Brooding o’er the earth. [63-66]

De Rerum Natura is pervaded with allusions to a day of doom which may have suggested Poe’s early title, “The Doomed City.” Lucretius speaks of Time’s victims:

these one common day shall doom

To utter ruin, when, for ages props

The world’s vast system shall itself dissolve [V. 100-103]

E’en seest thou not how stones themselves decay?

How turrets totter, and the rigid rick

Crumbles in time to dust? how yield, at length,

Fanes, altars, images by age worn out? [V, 319-322]

The images of corrosive time are similar to the specific negation [page 55:] of Poe’s “Time-eaten towers that tremble not!” Finally, both poets establish an atmosphere of utter strangeness. Poe’s world of edifices which “resemble nothing that is ours” recalls Lucretius’ setting, in which

Nor ocean nor heaven, nor even earth nor air,

Nor aught of things like unto things of ours

Could be then seen —

[Here I have used the translation of William Ellery Leonard (New York, 1950), p. 205, Book V, 11. 446-452, since it points up the similarity more strikingly than Good’s translation, which reads “Nor aught of prospect mortal sight surveys.”] That Poe should find a model in Lucretius is not surprising, since both poets wrote expositions of natural law as hypothesized by the Greek atomist Epicurus. In Eureka, Poe qualifies his atoms as “true Epicurean atoms” [Harrison ea., XVI, 266]. The two philosopher-poets also concur on the belief that there is a pre-determined amount of joy in one’s life which it is impossible to increase [De Rerum Natsura, VI, 1-34; Eureka, XVI, 313-314]. A strong parallel is also apparent between the closing lines of De Rerum Natura describing plague victims “drowned . . . / Within and outwards, with putrescent grume” [VI, 1324-1325], and the final phrase of “The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar,” describing the title character “a nearly liquid mass of loathsome — of detestable putridity.” Although I do not wish to clutter further the already absurdly long list of sources ascribed to ‘The Raven,” which has become a source-hunter’s tradition of sorts, I would like to cite Lucretius’ description of a fuming temple where pallid spirits are thought to be drawn down to hell by ‘infernal powers”:

Where never raven, e’en when victims smoke

O’er the red altar, shows his jerry plumes

Yet not restrained . . .

By wrath of Pallas o’er the tell-tale spy. [VI, 780-783]

Perhaps translator Leonard sensed the sympathy between the subject; and atmospheres of the two poems when he attached to the curious bird the word “evermore” [p. 280].

Daniel Driskell, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania


Spenser and “The City in the Sea”

The number of references to Spenser in Poe’s work enhances the possibility that one source for lines 26-29 of “The City in the Sea” can be found in The Faerie Queene. In his essay on “Poe’s Reading” [Texas Studies in English, 5 (1925), 176], Killis Campbell mentions, but does not cite, five reference to The Faerie Queene in Poe’s poetry. Haldeen Braddy [Glorious Incense, 2nd ed. (Port Washington, N.Y.: Kennikat, 1968), p. 67] likewise mentions the use of Spenser in Poe’s Fifty Ssuggestions, without citing lines 905-906 of Mother Hubberd’s Tale upon which Poe bases “Suggestion XLII” [Complete Works, ed. Harrison (New York: Crowell, 1902), XIV, 184]. Neither critic Citff Poe’s remark in Pinakidia [Works, XIV, 53] that “the idea of ‘No light but rather darkness visible’ was perhaps suggested to Milton by Spenser’s ‘A little gloaming light much like a shade.’” B. R. Pollin’s Dictionary of Names and Titles In Poe’s Collected Works [New York: Da Capo, 1968] lists seven more references to Spenser in Poe’s prose writings, while T. O. Mabbott’s recent edition mentions Spenser in connection with six of Poe’s poems. For example, the answer to the riddle in the first line of “The Enigma” — ”The noblest name in Allegory’s page” — is Spenser [Mabbott, Collected Works of Edgar Allan Poe: 1, Poems (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard Univ. Prffs. 1969), 221]. Mabbott notes the parallel between line 28 of “The City” and Paradise Lost [V, 907] and “Tamerlane” [140-141], both of which make use of the phrase “proud towers,” but doff not cite The Faerie Queene [II, ix, xiv] in which this phrase also occurs. Poe’s “proud tower,” highest and most portentous of those turrets which seem “pendulous in air,” is clearly a symbol of death and moral decay. It is “proud” because it is the “throne” on which “Death has reared himself” [1. 1]. Being “proud,” it is distinguished from other I=s significant “Time [column 2:] eaten towers that tremble not” [1. 7]:

So blend the turrets and shadows there

That all seem pendulous in air.

While from a proud tower in the town

Death looks gigantically down.

Spenser’s description of the highest feature on the House of Alma is similar to Poe’s lines in several respects:

That Turrets frame most admirable was,

Like highest heauen compassed around

And lifted high aboue this earthly masse

Which it suruew’d. as hils doen lower ground;

But not on ground mote like to this be found,

Not that. which antique Cadmus whylome built

In Thebes, which Alexander did confound;

Nor that proud towre of Troy, though richly guilt,

From which young Hectors bloud by quell Greekes was spin.

It is likely that certain features of this stanza occurred to Poe as he made the final revision of “The City,” the only version containing the phrase “proud tower.” The height of Poe’s ‘turrets and shadows” makes them “seem pendulous in air,” and Spenser’s turret is “lifted high aboue this earthly masse.” Poe’s tower and city are decorated with “wreathed friezes” of “sculptured ivy and stone flowers” [11. 20-23], and Spenser’s “proud tower” is “richly guilt.” From Poe’s tower “Death looks gigantically down,” while Spenser’s turret “suruew’d” all below it. Spenser uses the phrase “proud tower” to convey the imminence of death by the reference to Hector and the allusions to death in the Cadmus story. Significantly, Poe uses the same phrase to describe a tower whose sole purpose is also the expression of death. Though Killis Campbell asserts that Byron’s “Darkness” is an important source for “The City” [The Poems of Edgar Allan Poe (New York, 1917, rpt. 1962), pp. 208-210] he makes no mention of Spenser, whose influence on the poem is supported by Mabbott’s conviction that, although “Poe disliked epics and says little of Spenser, . . . he read more of him than may be often supposed” [p. xxvii].

Christopher P. Baker, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill


Dr. Maudsley, Forgotten Poe Diagnostician

An unnoticed diagnosis of Poe’s psychological condition written in 1860 by Dr. Henry Maudsley, M.D., Medical Superintendent of the Manchester Royal Lunatic Hospital, and published in the British Journal of Mental Science, 6, No. 33 [April 1860], 328369, may be of interest to Poe readers. Dr. Maudsley sees Poe as the product of his nature and circumstances, unable to meet the demands of a petty but respectable society because of inherent physical and psychological weaknesses. Emphasizing Poe’s probable tendency toward physical weakness inherited from his consumptive mother and accentuated by three years of extreme poverty, Dr. Maudsley traces Poe’s early years chronologically. Poe’s life with the Allans did not encourage normal psychological growth, for they openly scorned his family background and, while Mrs. Allan spoiled the boy, Mr. Allan did little more than pay for his keep. Unstable as he was, Poe was unable to meet the demands of either university or military discipline, abandoned both, and tried to make his way as a writer. That Poe attracted women does not surprise Dr. Maudsley. His relationships proved unsatisfactory, however, because Poe, selfish and immature, accepted financial and emotional assistance as rightfully his and gave nothing in return. Rejected by a sterile society in his attempts as a writer and unable to cope with the business world, Poe sought in drink the power, success, happiness, and beauty which reality denied him. His unhappy, selfish pursuit of the beautiful, Dr. Maudsley concludes, convinced Poe that the world was a “damned place” where ultimately the ‘conqueror worm” would rule. Dr. Maudsley’s mid-nineteenth-century diagnosis, written under the handicaps of distance and lack of perspective, should be added to the documents of the development of the Poe legend.

Mary C. Leibman, Kansas City, Missouri [page 56:]


Another Mallarme-Manet Bookplate for Poe’s Raven

Two Mementoes from the Poe-Ingram Collection, published last year by the Bibliographical Society of the University of Virginia, presented facsimiles of Mallarme’s first version of his elegiac sonnet on Poe and of a bookplate designed by Manet and autographed by him and by Mallarme for the latter’s translation of The Raven. In the introduction to the Mementoes I wrote that the bookplate, inscribed for Poe’s great English editor, John Ingram, might be “probably unique for its autographs.” Mr. William Fredeman of Oxford, England, however, has recently written that he has discovered a framed example of the Raven bookplate among the pictures in the possession of Mrs. Imogen Dennis, granddaughter of William Michael Rossetti, who lives in Woodstock. The inscription, differing in form from the one to Ingram, reads “W. M. Rossetti Esq./ with compliments and kind regards/ S. Mallarme/ and E. Manet.” Mr. Fredeman suggests that Mallarme and Manet may have presented copies to contemporary Poe enthusiasts. I should be happy to hear of other of these autographed bookplates that may emerge.

I. B. Cauthen, Jr., University of Virginia


An 1839 Review of Poe’s Tales in Willis’ The Corsair

Among Poe’s literary acquaintances N. P. Willis was outstanding for his kindly solicitude and public appreciation of Poe’s merits. This fact gives especial interest to an unnoticed review of Tales of the Grotesque and Arabesque published in the New York magazine The Corsair, jointly edited by Willis and Dr. Timothy O. Porter, from March 16, 1839, to March 7, 1840, its death date. At the beginning of 1839, Willis had severed connections with his partner on The Mirror, George Pope Morris. The Corsair, as its name indicates, frankly intended, according to Willis’ prospectus, “to take advantage” of the legal right to “pirate” material and to “convey” into the columns “the cream and spirit of everything that ventures to light in England, France, and Germany” [see Henry H. Beers, Willis (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1885), pp. 239-243, and Cortland P. Auser, Willis (New York: Twayne, 1969), pp. 48-50]. About Dr. Timothy O. Porter, I can learn only that he did editorial work for his brother William T. Porter, who was editor and publisher of the sporting journal of New York Spirit of the Times and who was, therefore, known to Poe if not personally by him. [see Poe’s reference to correspondence with him in 1846, in Ostrom, Letter, II, 313-315]. Timothy appears to be an old friend of Willis, to judge by the letters that Willis sent him, a few of which are printed by Beers — tacit proof of Willis’ friendship and esteem. This is important for the review, since Willis left for England on May 20, 1839, and could have had no hand in the writing of the review. In all probability, considering the pirated nature of the material and paucity of reviews in The Corsair, the review of Poe’s Tales, in No. 41 of December 21, 1839 (p. 653, colt 1), was written by Porter himself. Its interest lies in several factors. Its mere presence shows the importance that Willis’ editorial partner attached to Poe’s name, even at that early date. Intrinsically, the review also shows the intermingled admiration and bewilderment evoked in readers of Poe’s day:

We have skimmed over the surface of these volumes and found them possessed of a fair claim upon our admiration. A sparkling dash of fancy, sentiment and wit intermingled, — clothed in rich language, and pink’d off with the latest gloss of transcendentalism, with little regard to definite plot or story-like denouement [sic], with an occasional burst of the ‘grotesque admirably sustained, recommend these Tales to those who hail with avidity a novelty in the literary matt.

Considering the variety of styles and techniques displayed in these twenty-five tales, which include all those of the “Folio Club,” this is a fair and appreciative comment. By “transcendentalism” doff the reviewer mean the German narrative style of Tieck or Hoffmann, or the tone of Hawthorne or even the ideas of Emerson? Whoever the writer and whatever his exact meaning, it is interesting to compare this review in Willis’ journal with that in the New-York Mirror of December 20, 1839 [XVII, 215], still being published by Morris. This review is further proof that Poe was not ignored or undervalued in his own day, even at the start of his career in New York.

Burton R. Pollin, The City University of New York, Bronx

Community College [column 2:]


A Few Words of Clarification on “Hans Pfaal”

Several inquiries about my article, “A Note on the Composition of Poe’s ‘Hans Pfaal’” [PN, 3 (1970), 2-5], suggest that some clarification is in order. Because I quote Poe’s erroneous statement that “Hans Pfaal” was published in the Southern Literary Messenger when he was editor, and because a footnote calling attention to Poe’s error was omitted in the editing of my manuscript for publication, more than one reader may have assumed, as has Richard P. Benton in “Edgar Allan Poe: Current Bibliography” [PS, 4 (1971), 40], that I think that Poe composed the tale after he “became connected with the Southern Literary Messenger in 1835 and not before.” An examination of Poe’s statement, however, will reveal that he erred only concerning the time that he became editor of the Messenger and not concerning the time that he wrote his tale. Poe definitely states that he wrote it about six months before publishing it. Actually my article is not concerned with the precise time that “Hans Pfaal” was composed except insofar as to prove that it could not have been begun in 1833 (as Mr. J. O. Bailey has suggested) and still have been inspired, as Poe maintained, by an American edition of Herschel’s A Treatise on Astronomy published near the end of 1834. Since, however, “Hans Pfaal” appeared in the June 1835 number of the Messenger, I should judge the time of composition to be certainly no later than January 1835 and more probably near the end of 1834 after Poe had had time thoroughly to digest the content of Herschel’s A Treatise on Astronomy. Finally, let me add that the omitted footnote also accounted for the variant spellings of Pfaal appearing in my article, Poe having spelled the name over a number of years in four different ways.

William H. Gravely, Jr., University of Maryland


Thomas Ollive Mabbott on the Canon of Poe’s Reviews

Unfortunately there is no reasonably complete and accurate text of Poe’s critical essays and reviews. Within the past fifty years, only a few studies — notably Charles F. Heartman and Kenneth Rede’s standard A Census of First Editions and Source Materials by Edgar Allan Poe in American Collections. . . [2 vols., Metuchen, N.J., 1932] and Heartman and Canny’s A Bibliography of First Printings of the Writings of Edgar Allan Poe [Hattiesburg, Miss.: The Brook Farm, 1943] — have attempted to identify Poe’s critical writings published in the periodical literature of his day. To my knowledge there are no immediate plans for a standard text of Poe’s criticism that will rectify errors found in James Harrison’s generally accepted “Virginia” edition, The Complete Works of Edgar Allan Poe [17 vols., New York: Thomas Crowell, 1902]. As a consequence, critics of Poe will undoubtedly continue to draw conclusions from a text that is neither accurate nor complete. [For instance, Sidney Kaplan in his “Introduction” to The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym (New York: Hill and Wang, 1960) assumes that Poe wrote a review of Paulding’s Slavery in the United States (Works, VIII, 265-275).]

No one worked longer and harder on establishing the Poe canon than the late Professor Thomas O. Mabbott, who spent many years preparing an edition of Poe’s works. [Volume I, entitled Poems (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard Univ. Press, 1969), of Professor Mabbott’s proposed edition Collected Works of Edgar Allan Poe has appeared, and two additional volumes of Tales and Sketches will appear in the near future. Publication plans for subsequent volumes devoted to Poe’s critical prose have not been announced.] My purpose here is to present Professor Mabbott’s opinion, conveyed in a 1966 letter to Professor Eric W. Carlson of the University of Connecticut, relative to the authorship of a few specific reviews appearing in the Virginia edition. I have no knowledge at this time that Professor Mabbott modified this opinion before his death in 1968.

In his letter dated February 9, 1966 (forwarded to me by Professor Carlson), Professor Mabbott stated that the following reviews and essays appearing in the Virginia edition should not be attributed to Poe [Professor Charles Stagg and I adhered to this opinion in compiling our Index to Poe’s Critical Vocabulary (Hartford, Conn.: Transcendental Books, 1966); see ‘Foreword,” p. 5. Carlson, in forwarding Mabbott’s letter to me, stated that Mabbott’s date of February 9, 1966, was incorrect and suggested July 9, 1966, as more likely. Permission to use the letter has been granted by Mrs. Thomas O. Mabbott, Professor Carlson, and the Belknap Press of Harvard Univ. Press, where Mabbott’s Collected Works of Poe are being published.]:

(1) “Poems, by William Cullen Bryant” (Works, VIII, 1-2)

(2) “I Promessi Sposi, or the Betrothed Lovers . . . by G. W. Featherstonhaugh” (Works, VIII, 12-19)

(3) “Journal by Frances Anne Butler” (Works, VIII, 1931)

(4) “The Infidel, or the Fall of Mexico . . . by [Robert Montgomery Bird]” (Works, VIII, 32-37)

(5) “The Conquest of Florida . . . by Theodore Irving” (Works, VIII, 37-39)

(6) “The Crayon Miscellany, No. 11 [by Washington Irving]” (Works, VIII, 40-41)

(7) “Slavery in the United States, by J. K. Paulding” (Works, VIII, 265-275)

(8) “Mercedes of Castile, a Romance, by J. Fenimore Cooper” (Works, X, 96-99)

(9) “The Dream, and Other Poems. By the Hon. Mrs. Norton” (Works, X, 100-105)

(10) “The Antediluvians, or the World Destroyed . . . By James McHenry, M.D.” (Works, X, 105-109) [In his letter, Mabbott neglected to list this review, which he obviously intended to include. He clearly states that all reviews appearing on pages 96-114 of Volume X of the Virginia edition are not by Poe.]

(11) “The Tower of London: A Historical Romance. By W. H. Ainsworth” (Works, X, 110-111)

(12) “Visits to Remarkable Places . . . (Works, X, 112-114)

(13) “The Works of Lord Bolingbroke. . .” (Works, X, 171-174)

(14) “Zanoni, a Novel. [by Edward Bulwer-Lytton]” (Works, XI, 115-123)

(15) “The Poems of Alfred Tennyson “ (Works, XI, 127-131). By W. Howitt”

Professor Mabbott also stated that the critical notice of G. P. R. James’ Corse de Leon: or the Brigand (Works, X, 160-162) may not be Poe’s, and that the review entitled “The Poets and Poetry of America, With an Historical Introduction. By Rufus W. Griswold . . .” (Works, XI, 220-243) was composed by Henry B. Hirst, although “some parts are perhaps the result of conversations with Poe.”

With few exceptions, Professor Mabbott’s listing agrees with that of William Doyle Hull, who, in an unpublished dissertation entitled “A Canon of the Critical Works of Edgar Allan Poe with a Study of Poe as Editor and Reviewer” [Univ. of Virginia 1941], undertook perhaps the most systematic study of the canon of Poe’s critical reviews. Hull, unlike Mabbott, attributes to Poe the reviews of “Journal By Frances Anne Butler” (Works, VIII, 19-31); “The Infidel, or the Fall of Mexico . . .” [by Robert Montgomery Bird] (Works, VIII, 32-37); and the brief critical notice of James’ Corse de Leon: or the Brigand (Works, X, 160-162). Having no opportunity to examine the Philadelphia Saturday Museum in which the review of Griswold’s The Poets and Poetry of America (3rd edition) appeared in 1843 (Works, XI, 220-243), Hull (p. vii) does not comment upon the authorship of this essay which, according to Mabbott, may be in part the result of Hirst’s conversations with Poe.

Obviously, a great deal needs to be done to continue the work that both Professor Mabbott and William Doyle Hull have begun. [See Professor Robert Jacobs’ Poe: Journalist and Critic (Louisiana State University Press, 1969), pp. 61-93, for an informative discussion of Poe’s contributions to the Southern Literary Messenger.] The Virginia edition not only includes reviews that Poe did not compose, but also leaves out some (how many we do not know) that are most certainly his — reviews that may well be very significant in understanding his critical attitudes and theory.

J. Lasley Dameron, Memphis State University


Associated Article(s) and Related Material:

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[S:0 - PS, 1972]