Text: Charles Jacobs Peterson, “[Review of The Literati],” Peterson's Magazine (Philadelphia, PA), vol. 18, no. 5, November 1850, pp. 214-215


[page 214, column 3, continued:]


The Literati; or, Some Honest Opinions about Autorial Merits and Demerits. 1 vol. New York: J. S. Redfield. — This is a collection of criticisms, by the late Edgar A. Poe, on a number of American authors. The articles were written during different periods of Poe's career: and while some are indisputably able and candid, others are weak and personal. We knew Poe well. He was a strange, eccentric creature, with many and great faults; yet, on the whole, a man to be pitied rather than condemned. But his reviews were not to be relied on as always just. With many of the qualities of a first-rate critic, he yet wanted a rigid sense of justice; and hence personal prejudice, or the desire of writing a slashing article, or same whim of the moment would often induce him to abuse where he should have praised. The editor of the present volume, Rufus W. Griswold, knew this well, and, therefore, ought not to have re-published these criticisms. But this is not the only fault we have to find with the volume. The book is prefaced by a biography of Poe, which paints his character in the darkest colors, and gives, we sincerely believe, as altogether wrong impression of Poe. It is bad enough, under any circumstances, to misrepresent the dead; but when the traducer is the deceased's literary executor, it is a breach of trust. If the friend to whom ‘the departed man has confided his [page 215:] reputation, betrays his good name to obloquy, what may be expected from the world at large! We never, during Poe's life-time, hesitated to speak of his habits of plagiarism, or of his want of candor as a critic; but we would cut off our right hand before we would write such a memoir as this, which his pretended friend has written. We speak thus severely because this is the first instance, in American literary history, of such a breach of trust.



Although the review is unsigned, Charles Jacob Peterson (1818-1887) was the editor, and did know Poe from his time with Graham's Magazine. Thus, he is presumed to be the author.


[S:0 - PM, 1850] - Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - Works - Bookshelf - Review of The Literati (C. J. Peterson, 1850)