Text: R. A. Stewart (ed. J. A. Harrison), “Introduction to the Notes,” The Complete Works of Edgar Allan PoeVol. II: Tales - part 01 (1902), pp. 299-306


[page 299:]


THE works of few authors have been subjected by the authors themselves to such careful and repeated revision as were the Tales of Poe. The great majority of these tales were published in magazines, newspapers, or volumes at least twice, sometimes as many as four or five times, during Poe’s lifetime; and on nearly every republication the Tales appeared in a revised form, the revision varying in extent from a few unimportant emendations to the careful reconstruction of almost every sentence.

Poe never seemed fully content with any state of his work, correcting and emending with manuscript notes on the margin even the latest printed form as found in the edition of 1845 and in the Broadway Journal. The carelessness of editors and of printers of that period was a source of constant irritation to him, and he was ever fearful that the work which he had been at such pains to perfect would be bungled and mutilated at their hands. The words taken as the motto of this edition, “I am naturally anxious that what I have written should circulate as I wrote it, if it circulate at all,” express clearly his intense solicitude for the preservation of the integrity of his work, and it is in the hope of fulfilling as nearly as possible this earnest desire that the present work on his text has been undertaken.

Poe was unfortunate in having as the first editor of his collected works a man so entirely lacking in sympathy for him as was Griswold, and the result was an edition incomplete in matter and very defective in typography. Up to [page 300:] the present time nearly every editor has been content to accept the Griswold text with all or most of its blunders, and at the same time to present new errors not found in the original.

In order to determine to what extent the best editions of recent years vary from the Griswold text, and when such variations are justifiable, a careful collation has been made of the Stedman & Woodberry, Stoddard, and Ingram texts with the Griswold, and the results, so far as regards the principal verbal deviations, set down in the Notes. The changes justified by the last form of a tale or by manuscript notes are indicated; others are the result of error or unwarranted change by the editor under discussion. The variations in punctuation are too numerous to catalogue; but it may be stated in general terms that Stoddard follows Griswold closely; Ingram varies chiefly through numerous omissions; and Stedman & Woodberry have made extensive revisions throughout with a view to conforming to modern notions.

The Stedman & Woodberry edition was the first (that is, if we disregard Ingram with his few corrections) to start on independent lines, and attempt to establish a trustworthy text by reference to the original sources; but the end has been but imperfectly accomplished. Some of the Broadway Journal variant readings, together with the manuscript notes, and most of the Lorimer Graham manuscript corrections, have been introduced, but Poe’s punctuation has been ignored even when a correction in such occurs in his own handwriting; capitals have been changed to small letters and small letters to capitals; italics have been disregarded in many cases; a “corrected form” has been substituted for the quotations as given by Poe; the spelling has been altered to conform to present-day “usage and taste”; and with the exception of the edition of 1845 and the Broadway Journal, little use seems to have been made of other final forms, as very few of their variant readings appear in the text.

The Stoddard edition is founded on Griswold, but [page 301:] alters, omits, or inserts numerous words without the authority of the original issue or the manuscript notes of Poe. Some of the typographical errors of Griswold are corrected, but at the same time some of the worst blunders are retained.

As hinted above, Ingram did not accept the text of Griswold absolutely, but made some few changes on the authority of the Broadway Journal, and altered a foreign word here and there. Whatever improvement appears is offset by a number of verbal errors. In several instances unwarranted liberties have been taken with the text, as in the passage in “The Murders in the Rue Morgue,” where the editor attempts to improve the sense by remodelling the sentence, and again the omission of two sentences in “The Tell-tale Heart.” (See Notes.) The earlier Graham state of “The Oval Portrait,” with alterations in spelling and punctuation, is published by Ingram in preference to the shortened form as it appeared later in the Broadway Journal, sanctioned by Poe.

In the present edition the latest form of the tale printed in Poe’s lifetime has been taken as the text, wherever this form was known and accessible, and this original issue has been followed as closely as possible, the only changes made being the insertion of manuscript notes of Poe, the correction of a few obvious errors on the authority of an earlier state of the tale, and the correction by the Editor of foreign or technical words; but in every case where the original text is changed, the fact is stated in the Notes. Under no circumstances has unwarranted liberty been taken with either spelling, punctuation, or verbiage, but the aim has been to preserve the text as nearly as possible as Poe wrote it. In the Notes, readings of the text variant from Griswold will be found with the Griswold form immediately following in parentheses. In the case of a foreign or a technical word corrected by the Editor, the corrected form comes first enclosed in square brackets, with the incorrect Griswold form following in parentheses, as elsewhere. [page 302:]

The Broadway Journal furnishes the text for forty-one of Poe’s tales, and as most of these were printed under his own eye and supervision, we are to expect greater typographical accuracy here than elsewhere; and such we find to be the case. We have further the advantage of knowing that Poe must have been fairly well satisfied with the work, as the corrections made by him in manuscript in his own copy of the Journal are confined to one verbal change and the correction of a few typographical errors. A few obvious errors, however, were overlooked by Poe, and these have been corrected in this edition on the authority of an earlier text.

The Duyckinck edition of 1845 contains the latest form for eleven more of the Tales. Here, too, we have the final seal of authority in the revisions as found in the Lorimer Graham copy, formerly owned by Poe. These manuscript corrections are much more numerous than those found in the Broadway Journal, but are confined to “The Gold Bug,” “A Descent into the Maelström,” “The Murders in the Rue Morgue,” “The Mystery of Marie Rogêt,” “The Purloined Letter,” “The Man of the Crowd,” and “Mesmeric Revelation,” the last two, however, having only one slight correction each. In “The Gold Bug” the emendations are much more frequent than in any of the others, and some are quite important.

All the manuscript corrections in “A Descent into the Maelström,” as well as several in “The Gold Bug” and in “The Mystery of Marie Roget,” and nearly all the corrections in punctuation appear in this edition for the first time incorporated in a printed text. The above mentioned constitute the extent of known manuscript corrections in the Tales; elsewhere we have to accept the printed form as final.

“Thou art the Man,” “The Cask of Amontillado,” and “Mellonta Tauta “ follow the text as found in Godey’s Lady’s Book. “The Cask of Amontillado “ appears in a somewhat revised form in Griswold, but as [page 303:] we have no positive evidence that these changes were made by Poe, the Godey form was preferred for the text, the Griswold readings being placed in the Notes. “The Domain of Arnheim “ and ((The Angel of the Odd “ follow the Cobmbian Magazine form. The original form of the latter of these, which had eluded the search of recent editors, was lately discovered by the present writer in the Cohmbian Magazine of October, 1844. “The System of Dr. Tarr and Prof. Fether “ follows Graham. “The Balloon Hoax” has been taken from Griswold, the original issue in the New York Sun having been filched from the files in the Sun office. “The Elk (Morning on the Wissahiccon),” which appears in a slightly altered form in the Stedman & Woodberry edition, is here accurately reproduced from the original form in “The Opal “ of 1844. “Hans Pfaall “ and “Metzengerstein” do not follow 1840, but in these two the Griswold readings are preferred as undoubtedly founded on a revised form of the text in the hands of the editor. “The Thousand and Second Tale” also shows evidence of some revision in Griswold, several insertions and emendations occurring 5 these changes have been retained in the text, which elsewhere conforms to the Broadway Journal. “A. Gordon Pym “ follows the text of the edition of 1838. “The Journal of Julius Rodman “ is taken from the original in Burton’s Gentleman’s Magazine. “The Imp of the Perverse “ is the only tale the final form of which was known, that is not followed in the original, for the “Mayflower “ was not accessible for collation, and the Griswold text had to be accepted instead. For the rest of the tales, “Hop Frog,” “X-ing a Paragrab,” “The Sphinx,” “Van Kempelen and His Discovery,” and “Landor’s Cottage,” the final form has so far eluded search, and in these Griswold has of necessity been followed.

Besides establishing an authentic text for this edition, the editors have made a careful collation with the text of all available original issues in order that the student of [page 304:] Poe may determine the extent of the revision each tale underwent from one publication to another and may trace the gradual transformation of the text to its highly finished state under the repeated touches of the master’s hand. The results of these collations have been collected into groups of notes arranged in chronological order. The first group of each body of notes gives the variations of the earliest collated form of the tale from the text of the edition, the reading of the text standing first, with the corresponding reading of the collated form in parentheses. In order to economize space, the second, third, or fourth state was in most cases collated with the earliest form, the reading of the later form being placed first in the Notes with the earliest form in parentheses.

The collation has been of the most minute character, attempting to show even the slightest deviation in punctuation as well as the most important verbal changes. Every known text, with a few exceptions, has been collated. The uncollated known texts are those in the Philadelphia papers and in the “Mayflower,” which were not accessible, and “The Baltimore Saturday Visiter,” “The Flag of Our Union,” and the exceedingly rare edition of 1843, “Prose Romances of Edgar A. Poe,” none of which can be located. [[All of these have since been located — JAS]]

As before stated, the revisions discovered by collation vary considerably in extent, being now confined to several slight changes in punctuation and verbiage, again amounting to a rewriting verbally of the whole tale. As to the character of these changes, we find the phraseology polished and simplified, objectionable passages omitted, the punctuation improved, titles altered, typographical errors and inaccuracies of various kinds corrected, mottoes added or omitted, notes introduced, and so on.

Of the forty-one tales that appeared in the Broadway Journal, nearly all are found there in a far more revised state than in any previous publication. Besides the other changes, several of the tales were shortened, one considerably . In “Berenice “ one gruesome passage was [page 305:] omitted entirely. In “Morella “ the hymn is left out.”Lionizing “ was extensively revised, so many variations being noted that they would occupy nearly as much space as the tale itself, so here the earliest, Southern Literary Messenger, form is given in the Notes instead. “Loss of Breath “ was abridged more than any other tale, several pages describing the death on the gallows and subsequent burial being left out entirely. “The Oval Portrait “ is shortened by the omission of all the passages referring to the use of opium. “The Business Man “ is the only tale that occurs in the Broadway Journal lengthened to any considerable extent. A number of the other Broadway Journal tales show the omission or insertion of a sentence or phrase here and there, but in no others is such variation in length discovered as in those above mentioned.

In the collation of the tales of the edition of 1845 with the earlier form of these tales, the changes are found to be in general less extensive than those observed in the case of the Broadway Journal tales. However, in some instances this revision was considerable, as in “The Murders in the Rue Morgue,” “The Mystery of Marie Rogêt,” and “ The Fall of the House of Usher.” The extent of revision in “The Gold Bug” and “The Black Cat” cannot be stated, as the earlier issues could not be found and were not collated. [[Both have since been located — JAS]]

Of the tales other than those in the Broadway Journal and in the 1845 edition, the greater part are not known to have appeared in print more than once, and the rest show no great revision in their latest form, except “The Imp of the Perverse,” which underwent extensive verbal emendation.

The first chapters of “A. Gordon Pym,” which were published in the Southern Literary Messenger, appear but slightly revised in the edition of 1838.

The tales of the edition of 1840 which appeared in the Southern Literary Messenger show no great number of variations from the latter form. In general a few verbal [page 306:] emendations were made, the spelling and punctuation revised, and many of the numerous capitals of the Southern Literary Messenger substituted by small letters. So, for the most part, the variations of the 1840 tales from the earlier texts, Burton’s Gentleman’s Magazine, American Museum, etc., are seen to be few as compared with the last revision. For more detailed information as to the various revisions, the reader is referred to the Notes themselves.


NOTE: — The editions used in collation were: — Ingram (The Tales and Poems of Edgar Allan Poe | by John H. Ingram | in four volumes | London | John C. Nimmo | 1884); Stedman & Woodberry (The Works of Edgar Allan Poe | Chicago | Stone & Kimball | MDCCCXCV); Stoddard (Fordham Edition | New York | A. C. Armstrong & Son | 1895); Griswold (J. S. Redfield, New York, 1849-50 —— 56).

The text of the Tales in the Ingram edition published by Black of Edinburgh was also collated, and found to be substantially the same as the same editor’s edition published by Nimmo.






[S:0 - JAHCW, 1902] - Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - Editions - The Complete Works of Edgar Allan Poe (J. A. Harrison) (Introduction to the Notes)