The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym (1838)


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This volume was issued in July of 1838. (An owner signed and dated his acquisition of the book as August 1838.) For uncertain reasons, the copyright was formally registered as June 10, 1837.

The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym (1838)

The number of copies printed is uncertain. Poe mentions this book in only one letter: “You once wrote in your magazine a sharp critique upon a book of mine — a very silly book — Pym. Had I written a similar criticism upon a book of yours, you feel that you would have been my enemy for life, and you therefore imagine in my bosom a latent hostility towards yourself” (Poe to William E. Burton, June 1, 1840).


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Bibliographic Data:

12mo. (7 3/8 in x 4 1/2 in). Pages [1]-2 [advertsements] [iii]-[viii], [9]-198, [199]-201, [1]-2 [advertisments]. Bindings: Several bindings are known, all in muslin, black and dark blue, both embossed and unembossed. The embossing has been described as leaves or pebble-grain. Paper label on spine, reading: “PYM’s ADVENTURES AND DISCOVERIES WITH AN ACCOUNT OF A HORRIBLE BUTCHERY, FAMINE, &c., &c. “. Instead of a paper label, the spine for the English edition is blind stamped: “PYM’s ADVENTURES & DISCOVERIES.”



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Census of Copies:

There are many surviving copies, although copies in the original binding are less common. It would be impractical to attempt a complete census of copies, but here are some significant ones:

  • William S. Reese, a bookseller in New Haven, CT, owns the copy of Pym (London, 1838) which belonged to Gansevoort Melville, the older brother of Herman Melville. (The preface page bears the inscription “Gansevoort Melville London.” It was presumably purchased between August 1845, when Gansevoort travelled to England, and May 12, 1846, when he died in London. The book is rebound.) It is possible that Herman inherited the book from his brother. (Mr. Reese notes that after Herman Melville’s death, the bulk of his library was sold to a Brooklyn bookseller for $110. A few volumes which were retained by the family are now in the New York Public Library and the Harvard Library.)
  • American Book-Prices Current notes a “presentation copy to Thomas Wyatt from Poe, with autograph inscription in pencil.” This copy has “some pages slightly water-stained.” It sold on June 10, 1910 for $320 (ABC, 1910, p. 543).

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Bibliography:

  • Blanck, Jacob, “Edgar Allan Poe,” Bibliography of American Literature ; volume 7: James Kirke Paulding to Frank Richard Stockton, New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1983. (Volume 7 is edited and completed by Virginia L. Smyers and Michael Winship.)
  • Pollin, Burton R., “A Comprehensive Bibliography of Editions and Translations of Arthur Gordon Pym ,”  ATQ (American Transcendental Quarterly ), Winter 1978, pp. 93- 110.
  • Pollin, Burton R., ed., The Collected Writings of Edgar Allan Poe , Vol 1 - The Imaginary Voyages: Pym, Hans Pfaall, Julius Rodman, Boston: Twayne Publishers, 1981, reprinted by Goridan Press.

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[S:0 - JAS] - Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - Works - Editions - Narrative of A. G. Pym (1838)