Text: Burton R. Pollin, “The Broadway Journal: Authenticating the Poe Prose (Introduction),” The Collected Writings of Edgar Allan Poe — Vol. IV: Broadway Journal (Annotations) (1986), pp. xliii-xlv (This material is protected by copyright)


[page xliii, continued:]


The process of authenticating the Poe materials in the magazine, was begun in 1968, during the course of a sabbatical leave [page xliv:] intended for this purpose. Various other projects intervened, fortunately, since I was aided much later by a riper acquaintance with Poe’s life and works and by the development of three instruments that shed considerable light on various phases of his content and style. All but a dozen small articles and a few columns of “Miscellany” which Poe borrowed from other journals, have been positively verified and are here presented. The methods used for culling approximately 350 equivalently full columns from about three to four times that amount of printing (since all his reprinted poetry and fiction are excluded) are based on the following factors:

1. Some of the items are signed by Poe with his name or initials in print.

2. Many were signed by Poe in pencil in the copy of the twovolume set that he gave to Sarah Helen Whitman in 1848 and which is now in the Huntington Library in San Marino (see the special section below on “Poe’s Markings”). I studied the “printed out” frames from the Duke University Library microfilm of the “Whitman” copy for its added initials, underlinings, sidelinings, and small corrections — as clues to his authorship.

3. Previous scholars have studied particular articles to allocate them to the canon, and have briefly published their findings (see the Bibliography below): Margaret Alterton, Killis Campbell, Heartman and Canny, T. O. Mabbott, Perry Miller, J. W. Robertson. In addition I have weighed the evaluations in the theses of James Reece and, above all, William Doyle Hull, III. This last unpublished work has been particularly helpful, although it addressed only the canon of review material. Originally I prepared a scale for each item of “positively, probably, or possibly by Poe,” taking into account all previous views on the subject for each article or set of reviews. Ultimately, I relied on my own judgment and, occasionally, intuition. The doubts and problems are recorded and discussed in the related notes.

4. Poe’s characteristic or habitual vocabulary can be studied through my Word Index (1983) which is virtually a concordance to all his tales and sketches in the Mabbott-Pollin edition. This sometimes helps to decide stylistically upon an article that may be by Briggs or Watson or Poe. Along with this, and even more useful, is an instrument that lists his word coinages together with all their loci in the Harrison edition. Since there are over 1,000 of these in my updated, revised Poe, Creator of Words (1976; 1981), more than one article can be determined by the coincidence of a Poe creation elsewhere.

5. Poe’s allusions to various persons, sometimes obscure, in his present or past associations, along with reference to titles, sometimes very arcane, need to be traced from columns of the BJ into other [page xlv:] works. My Dictionary of Names and Titles in Poe’s Works (1968) for all volumes of Harrison’s edition grants ready access to such names for this sort of checking.

6. Biographical data, often tied to other contemporaneous writings and actions by Poe, shed light on his content. Sources of these are Poe’s letters (Ostrom, ed.) and biographical works by A. H. Quinn, Hervey Allen, George Woodberry, and T. O. Mabbott, and the forthcoming Poe Log by D. K. Jackson and D. Thomas.

7. Parallels for style, rhetoric and content in other Poe works can be derived through studies with onomastic and thematic indices or lists, such as An Index to Poe’s Critical Vocabulary (1966) by Cauthen and Dameron, or the extensive index in the Tales (Mabbott ed., 1978).

8. A useful tool also has been my own edition of his many short pieces subsumed in The Brevities (1985), since many of his columns in the BJ found their way into the “Marginalia” in an abridged or modified form, this fact occasionally determining it as in the Poe canon. It may be well to mention here that there are no manuscripts for Poe’s writings in the BJ and there are no variants as there would be for a tale or poem reprinted later. However, to the extent that a modified article in a BJ column is a variant, the elements that both have in common have been discussed in my notes and if there is a close proximity, collations have been given.






[S:0 - BRP4J, 1986] - Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - Editions - The Collected Writings of Edgar Allan Poe (B. R. Pollin) (Authenticating the Poe Prose)