Text: John Frost, “[Review of Tales of the Grotesque and Arabesque],” Alexander’s Weekly Messenger (Philadelphia, PA), vol. III, no. 50, December 18, 1839, p. 2, col. 4


[page 2, bottom of column 4:]

TALES OF THE GROTESQUE AND ARABESQUE. By Edgar A. Poe. Philadelphia, Lea & Blanchard, 1839.

To say we have read this production attentively is not enough. We have studied it. It is every way worthy of such a distinction, and whoever shall give it a careful study and a philosopical [[philosophical]] analysis, will find in it the evidences of an original, vigorous, and independent mind, stored with rich and various learning and capable of sucessful [[successful]] application to a great variety of subjects. As a writer of fiction, Mr. Poe passes “from grave to gay, from lively to severe,” with an ease and buoyancy not less remarkable than the unfailing vigor of his style and prodigious extent of his resources for illustration and embellishment. He is capable of great things; and beautiful and interesting as the tales before us are, we deem them much less remarkable as actual performances than as evidences of ability for much more serious and sustained efforts. They seem to us the playful effusion of a remarkable and powerful intellect. We counsel the writer not to repose upon his laurels. He has placed himself in the foremost rank of American writers, as it respects ability. Let him maintain his position by untiring exertion and show that he fully deserves it by actual performance. He has raised the highest expectations. We trust he will not fail to fulfil them.




Although unsigned, the author of this review was identified by name in the biographical article on Poe in the Philadelphia Saturday Museum, first printed on February 25, 1843 and reprinted on March 4, 1843.

The masthead of the newspaper boasts a circulation of over twenty-five thousand copies, but only a single copy of this particular issue appears to have survived. The issue from the Ohio State Archaeolgical and Historical Society that was examined by Clarence S. Brigham in 1943 has not been located. The Ohio Historical Society, which apparently absorbed the Ohio State Archaeological and Historical Society, made a search in 2008 at the request of the Poe Society but was unable to find any record of the issue or any file of the periodical in their collection. After numerous failed attempts, a file of Alexander’s Weekly Messenger for 1839 was eventually discovered at the New York State Library, from which the present text is taken.


[S:1 - AWM, 1839] - Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - Bookshelf - Review of Tales of the Grotesque and Arabesque (J. Frost, 1839)