Text: James A. Harrison, “Introduction,” The Complete Works of Edgar Allan PoeVol. XII: Literary Criticism - part 04 (1902), pp. vii-ix


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[page vii, unnumbered:]

INTRODUCTION.

THE volumes of Poe’s Later Criticism embrace some of the most interesting productions of his genius, not perhaps so acute and so trenchant as those illustrating the Middle Period, when his critical nature burst forth with tropical exuberance, but in the highest degree characteristic of the man. It opens with his editorial conduct of the Broadway Journal in 1845, — a short-lived publication which Poe began with Briggs, Bisco, and Watson and continued on his own responsibility towards the end of the year. In this journal he poured forth the whole wealth of his literary productivity, whatever of beautiful, quaint or startling he had written up to this date, nearly everything that he cared to preserve from Oblivion, carefully revised and ready for the reader of an after generation. To this storehouse of revised Poeana every lover of Poe should go — though few hitherto have gone thither.

What we reprint here is almost entirely new, even to connoisseurs of Poe, but the interest of much of it is not at all inferior to that of the earlier volumes, more particularly the neglected paragraphs entitled “Editorial Miscellany.” Several of these concern personal controversies of a piquant description with “Boston and the Bostonians;” other papers, continued from week to week, reveal Poe in an entirely new character, as dramatic critic of current contemporary performances; the Chivers critique shows his attitude towards the now famous doctor. [page viii:]

The present volume also places the “Longfellow-Outis War” for the first time in its true position, under its own title, in the chronological order of its parts, dated. There has not been opportunity heretofore to study Poe’s dislike — and admiration — of Longfellow, as of Lowell and others, in the order of their start, evolution, and finish. Our volumes of Criticism give the whole feud as it found utterance, — a one-sided feud, it must be confessed, in which Longfellow, silent through taste or conviction, displayed a most admirable and amiable spirit, never answering his embittered antagonist but once. (See Vol. XVII.)

Poe’s recognition of Bayard Taylor, of Mrs. Browning (then Miss Barrett), of Alfred Tennyson, of Thomas Hood, is set forth with unmistakable earnestness and eloquence, and his dislike of Leigh Hunt and Professor Wilson is likewise recorded. His last word on Hawthorne glows with hearty sympathy and enables us to see how his opinion of the great New England romancer had ripened since the review in Graham’s for April-May, 1842. The final view of Bryant, whom Poe always admired and frequently reviewed, will also be found in these volumes.

A few of the briefer critiques may possibly seem of slight importance. They are, however, of twofold value, giving us a glimpse of Poe’s literary workshop and an insight into the general literary conventionalities of the time.

More than passing interest attaches to our source and authority for the Broadway Journal contributions. They are taken from Poe’s own copy of this periodical, which he presented to Mrs. Whitman, marking with a “P.” or (“E. A. P.” the articles he wrote. There [page ix:] is no doubt, therefore, concerning the authenticity of the material. This highly valuable copy of the Journal eventually passed into the hands of Mr. F. R. Halsey, through whose courtesy we were enabled to make a verbatim copy.

JAMES A. HARRISON.

 


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Notes:

Only this last section of the introduction for the criticism carries Harrison’s signature, suggesting that the three parts were originally written as one continuous essay, broken into the various pieces as part of the process of preparing the volumes.


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