Text: Killis Campbell, “The Origins of Poe,” The Mind of Poe and Other Studies (1933), pp. 147-186 (This material is protected by copyright)


[page 147:]



A GOOD deal has already been done by way of revealing Poe’s sources. Even before his death something had been accomplished in this direction, and other suggestions were forthcoming shortly after his death. “Outis,” for instance, in 1845, in the unhappy “Longfellow War,” called attention to the similarity between Poe’s use of the repetend in “The Raven” and Coleridge’s use of that device in “The Ancient Mariner.”(1) In the following year an anonymous contributor to the Philadelphia Saturday Evening Post(2) disclosed the fact that Poe had drawn freely on Captain Thomas Brown’s Textbook of Conchology (1833) for his Conchologist’s First Book (1839), a compilation to which in an evil hour he had attached his name. In 1848 Henry B. Hirst, one-time friend of the poet, pointed out, in an article in the Philadelphia Saturday Courier, that Poe had apparently found the “leading idea” of his “Ulalume” in a poem of Thomas B. Read’s.(3) During the year following [page 148:] Poe’s death Lewis Gaylord Clark, in the Knickerbocker, charged Poe with having borrowed materials for “The Pit and the Pendulum” from a tale in Blackwood’s.(1) And in 1857 a writer in the Southern Literary Messenger noted some of the resemblances between “The Raven” and Mrs. Browning’s “Lady Geraldine’s Courtship.”(2) But it was not until the publication of the biographies of Poe by Ingram and Woodberry — in 1880 and 1885, respectively — that any serious or systematic attempt was made towards laying bare Poe’s sources. Each of these eminent authorities on the poet’s life brought out a good deal of important information about the sources on which Poe drew; and it is to them most of all that we are indebted for such information as we have concerning his literary borrowings, although scarcely a year has passed since the beginning of the century that has not revealed additional evidence as to his origins.

In the present essay I shall attempt to bring together the suggestions that have been made (of a seemingly valid nature) with regard to the poet’s origins;(3) to which I shall add certain suggestions of my own; and on the basis of this assembled evidence I shall venture sundry generalizations as to the nature and extent of Poe’s indebtednesses and as to his methods of working with his originals. [page 149:]

In my discussion of Poe’s backgrounds,(1) I have already touched on one side of the subject. As I endeavored to show there, Poe owed a good deal to his age and to the land in which he lived and wrote. I have also anticipated the subject in a measure in my discussion above of the use made by Poe of his own experiences and observations in his poems and tales.(2) In considering his origins it will be impossible to ignore entirely these aspects of the subject; but I shall concern myself here mainly with Poe’s literary origins, — with his indebtedness to books and the printed page. I shall take up in order his poems, his tales, and his critical and miscellaneous essays.


In any discussion of the origins of Poe’s poems the observation is inevitable at the outset that Poe was a product of the Romantic Movement, a scion of the same stock that gave to us Byron and Shelley and Moore and Coleridge. As with them, so with Poe, the emphasis was largely upon the subjective, the remote, the unusual, the ideal. Here and there, too, especially in his later poems, there was a strain of sentimentality; and in several of the earlier poems — in “Tamerlane” and “Al Aaraaf “ and “Israfel” — he dealt with Oriental materials.

It was to the Romantics, moreover, — and in particular to Byron and Moore and Coleridge, — that [page 150:] Poe looked, in so far as he looked beyond his own experiences and observation, for the materials out of which he was to fabricate his scant half a hundred lyrics; and to them also he turned for models and for inspiration.(1)

His most substantial obligations as poet were to Lord Byron. The longest of his early poems, “Tamerlane,” was evidently written in imitation of The Giaour, which it patterns after both in matter and in style.(2) The death-bed confession to a priest, with which the poem opens, seems also to have owed something to the parallel situation in the third act of Manfred, in which, as in Poe’s poem, the dying hero declines the absolution offered him by a priest. The influence of the anacoluthic style of Byron’s verse-tales is also discoverable in “Tamerlane”; and there are echoes of other poems of Byron, especially of Childe Harold, from which the words “sound of revelry by night” are introduced verbatim into the earliest printed text of the poem.

But even more obvious than the debt to Manfred and The Giaour that appears in “Tamerlane” is the borrowing from Byron seen in his early lyric “Spirits of the Dead,” which is, much of the way, a mosaic of materials drawn from the incantation at the end of the first scene of Manfred. The two lines, [page 151:]

Now are thoughts thou shalt not banish,

Now are visions ne’er to vanish,

manifestly go back to Byron’s lines,

There are shades which will not vanish,

There are thoughts thou canst not banish.

The opening lines of Poe’s poem as first published in 1827,

Thy soul shall find itself alone,

Alone of all on earth — unknown,

seem likewise to hark back to another couplet in the same lyric,

By a power to thee unknown,

Thou canst never be alone;

and there are yet other verbal parallels that can hardly be accidental.

Byron’s influence is also to be detected in “Stanzas,” which takes its cue from a stanza of The Island (used as the motto of the poem) ; in “A Dream Within a Dream” (originally entitled “Imitation,” in acknowledgment, I take it, of an indebtedness to Byron’s “The Dream”) ; and in “Romance,” which was not improbably written, as Professor C. Alphonso Smith once suggested,(1) by way of protest against Byron’s lines “To Romance,” in which the English bard professes, in a fit of caprice, to abjure Romance as a guide. [page 152:]

In a pathetic letter to his foster-father written from Fortress Monroe on May 29, 1829, Poe declared that he had long since “given up Byron as a model”;(1) but the influence of Byron may, nevertheless, be traced also in the volumes of 1829 and 1831 and in still later poems. “The City in the Sea,” for example, seems to have found the suggestion of a number of its details in Byron’s fragment entitled “Darkness.” It is reasonable to assume that “The Coliseum” owes something to the famous description of the Roman amphitheatre in Childe Harold; and Mr. Paul Elmer More has suggested that the refrain “nevermore” in “The Raven” is to be traced to Byron’s use of it in Don Juan.(2)

To Thomas Moore, also, Poe’s debt was not inconsiderable. It may be clearly seen in the volume of 1827 in the lyric “Evening Star,” which was unmistakably based on Moore’s lyric “ While Gazing on the Moon’s Light.” Poe, in a foot-note, confessed, moreover, to an indebtedness to Moore in his “ Fairy-Land “ (1829). The most obvious of his borrowings from the Irish lyrist appears, however, in the long poem “Al Aaraaf.” The catalogue of flowers near the beginning of that poem is largely drawn, as Professor Woodberry pointed out a good many years ago,(3) from Lalla Rookh, some passages being taken [page 153:] from the body of Moore’s poem and others from Moore’s notes. I shall cite two instances. Poe writes of the Nelumbo:

And the Nelumbo bud that floats forever

With Indian Cupid down the holy river.

Moore had written in a foot-note: “The Indians feign that Cupid was first seen floating down the Ganges on the Nymphaea Nelumbo.” Of the Sephalica Poe writes:

The Sephalica, budding with young bees,

Uprear’d its purple stem around her knees.

Moore had written in Lalla Rookh:

Of falling waters lulling as the song

Of Indian bees at sunset, when they throng

Around the fragrant Nilica, and deep

In its blue blossoms hum themselves to sleep;

and in a foot-note had explained that the Nilica is the same as the Sephalica.

The debt to Coleridge, on the other hand, though of much more significance than the debt to Byron or to Moore, — for it affected mainly the poems of Poe’s riper years, and involves in no small measure his poetical creed, — was largely unsubstantial. The only very close approximation to Coleridge that I find in Poe’s poems appears in a much-discussed line in the earlier “To Helen,”

Like those Nicean barks of yore, [page 154:]

which clearly resembles Coleridge’s line in “Youth and Age,”

Like those trim skiffs, unknown of yore.

But it was to Coleridge, most of all, that Poe was obligated for his theory of verse, the Biographia Literaria prompting his theorizing on poetics as did no other book or group of books.(1) He was almost certainly influenced by Coleridge, moreover, in the music and diction of some of his best verse. In particular, the mood and style of “Kubla Khan” seem to be reflected in “The City in the Sea”; there are lines in “The Sleeper” that suggest passages in “ Christabel”; and it is altogether plausible that the melody of “The Raven” owed something to the internal rhyme and the repetends in “The Ancient Mariner.”

There were debts also to Keats and Shelley. The immediate impulse to the writing of the “Sonnet. To Science” Poe probably owed to Keats’s “Lamia,” in particular to the famous passage (ll. 229-238) concerning the baleful effects of “cold philosophy” upon beauty and the imagination; and a parallel scarcely less striking exists between the closing lines of Poe’s sonnet,

Hast thou not dragged Diana from her car,

And driven the Hamadryad from the wood

To seek a shelter in some happier star? [page 155:]

Hast thou not torn the Naiad from her flood,

The Elfin from the green grass, and from me

The summer dream beneath the tamarind tree?

and the lines near the beginning of “Lamia”:

Upon a time, before the faery broods

Drove Nymph and Satyr from the prosperous woods,

Before king Oberon’s bright diadem,

Sceptre, and mantle, clasp’d with dewy gem,

Frighted away the Dryads and the Fauns

From rushes green, and brakes, and cowslip’d lawns.

To Shelley, Poe’s debt was, as in the case of his debt to Coleridge, largely a matter of atmosphere and mood rather than of phrasal echo or appropriation. In particular, I find the Shelleyan ideality in “Israfel” and in the songs in “Al Aaraaf”; and there are passages also in the Shelleyan manner in “Dream-Land,” in “To One in Paradise,” and in the “Sonnet. Silence.”

Here and there, too, one may catch echoes of certain of Wordsworth’s lines, despite the fact that Poe more than once recorded his disapproval both of Wordsworth’s theory of verse and of his practice. The lines from “The Valley of Unrest,” for example,

That palpitate like the chill seas

Around the misty Hebrides,

although conventional, probably owed something to Wordsworth’s memorable lines in “The Solitary Reaper,”

Breaking the silence of the seas

Among the farthest Hebrides. [page 156:]

The line,

Gone are the glory and the gloom,

in the 1831 text of “Romance,” is perhaps an echo of a couplet from the “Intimations Ode,”

Whither is fled the visionary gleam?

Where is it now, the glory and the dream?

The collocation “clouds of glory” appeared in a manuscript version of “To —— —— —— “ (“Not long ago, the writer of these lines”) ;(1) and the magic lines,

To the glory that was Greece

And the grandeur that was Rome,

resemble a line from Wordsworth’s “Stanzas: Composed in the Simplon Pass” (1822) :

The beauty of Florence, and the grandeur of Rome.(2)

The indebtedness of “The Raven” to Mrs. Browning’s “Lady Geraldine’s Courtship” (1844) is readily obvious. It appears most plainly in the line (13),

And the silken, sad, uncertain rustling of each purple curtain, [page 157:]

which surely had its origin in Mrs. Browning’s line (381),

With a murmurous stir uncertain, in the air the purple curtain.

It appears also in the line (43),

Then this ebony bird beguiling my sad fancy into smiling,

which goes back evidently to the line (389),

Ever, evermore the while in a slow silence she kept smiling,

and also, apparently, in the line (87),

Desolate yet all undaunted, on this desert land enchanted,

which resembles Mrs. Browning’s line (380),

O’er the desolate sand-desert of my heart and life undone.

There is an unmistakable similarity to Mrs. Browning’s poem, also, in the metrical movement and in the use of internal rhyme.(1) [page 158:]

The idea of the raven, a talking bird, was with almost equal certainty suggested by Dickens’s Barnaby Rudge (1841), which Poe had reviewed in Graham’s Magazine for February, 1842,(1) remarking at the time that Dickens’s raven could have been more effectively used if conceived of as symbolical, the croak-ings of the bird being heard “prophetically. . . in the course of the drama,” what (as he tells us in his “Philosophy of Composition”) is precisely Poe’s conception in “The Raven.”

Hood’s sonnet on “Silence” evidently suggested to Poe his sonnet on the same subject. The two poems possess a good deal in common, though Poe gives to his a different twist. That Poe knew Hood’s “Silence” is proved only too convincingly, moreover, by his reproduction of it above his own initial (whether maliciously or for purposes of mystification we cannot be certain) in Burton’s Gentleman’s Magazine six months before he published there his own sonnet.(2)

Reminiscences of Milton appear in the second part of “Al Aaraaf,” particularly in the description of Nesace’s temple. The basic idea of “Israfel” seems to have been suggested by two lines from Beranger’s “Le Refus” (1830),

Son cœeur est un luth suspendu;

Sitôt qu’on le touche, it résonne, — [page 159:]

lines that Poe later used as a motto for “The Fall of the House of Usher.” His “Enigma” was apparently suggested by a sonnet of Lope de Vega. And a colleague of mine, Professor Robert A. Law, has called attention to a very probable source of “Annabel Lee” in a poem “The Mourner,” published in the Charleston Courier in 1807.(1)

For the rest it is clear that certain ideas for the setting in “Al Aaraaf” came from the Koran, and that both “The City in the Sea” and “The Valley of Unrest” owe something to the Bible. “El Dorado” was confessedly prompted by the California gold rush of 1849; and Politian is a reworking of the newspaper accounts of a murder that took place in Kentucky in the 1820’s.(2)

There is also a good deal of autobiography in Poe’s poems, as I have endeavored to show in another essay in this volume.(3) Aside from the reflections of the poet’s mind and personality, there are several specific references to incidents in his life (as in his sonnet “To My Mother”), there are adumbrations, apparently, of still other incidents in his life (notably in “Tamerlane”), and there are echoes of his opinions and thinking on philosophical and other problems (as in “Al Aaraaf” and “Israfel”).

With respect to Poe’s methods of working with his source materials, we have a confession unparalleled, so far as I know, for its circumstantiality in [page 160:] his “Philosophy of Composition,” an essay in which he professes to tell in detail of the processes through which “The Raven” passed in the course of its composition. There is, I imagine, more of truth in Poe’s account than the average reader would at first be disposed to concede. But at least Poe does not tell the whole truth, for he makes no mention of his borrowings from Mrs. Browning and from Dickens,(1) and he ignores the fact that he had, long before writing “The Raven,” dealt with a similar situation in other poems, — notably in his “Lenore,” — and also in some of the tales. But even though we should grant, as more than one able critic has done, that Poe’s account of the composition of “The Raven” is largely true, we can be virtually certain that his account does not represent his practice in the case of many of his poems, — if, indeed, of any other of his poems. That his verses grew slowly under his shaping hand is clearly indicated by the frequency with which he recast most of his lyrics and the very large number of revisions that he made, the cancelled matter exceeding in bulk in some instances the entire poem in its final form.(2)


In the preface of his volume of poems published in 1845, Poe declared that poetry had been with him “not a purpose, but a passion.” The case was different [page 161:] with his short stories. While he must have written some of his stories with much zest, he turned to the writing of fiction primarily, we can be sure, for the purpose of making a living. Poetry, he had found, did not pay, at least in dollars and cents: there was little market for it; and it was necessary for him to resort to something that would bring him in an income. We do not know when he served his apprenticeship with the short story. There is a tradition that he wrote some of his tales before he left the University of Virginia; but of the first of his stories to be published so far as we know — a group of five stories that appeared in the Philadelphia Saturday Courier in 1832 — none can be confidently traced back to that period.(1)

But there was a market for the short story, as Poe learned from his reading in current magazines. He read these closely, both English and American, and he not only discovered that there was a demand for the short story, but he also learned what sort of story the editors found most available. He concluded, as he tells us in a very illuminating letter written in 1835,(2) that the stories most in demand with the periodicals of the day were of four several types: those involving “the fearful colored into the horrible” (that is, the tale of terror, which was most of all in vogue) ; those involving “the ludicrous heightened into the grotesque”; those involving “the witty exaggerated into [page 162:] the burlesque”; and those involving “the singular heightened into the strange and mystical.” How closely he adhered to these types, in catering to the demands of the periodicals, will be at once apparent from an examination of his early stories. “Metzen-gerstein,” which appears to have been the first of his stories to make its way into print, very well illustrates the first of these categories, “the fearful colored into the horrible.” “Loss of Breath” illustrates very effectively the second category, “the ludicrous heightened into the grotesque.” “The Duc de L’Omelette” answers very well to his third category, “the witty exaggerated into the burlesque.” And his “Morella,” to be followed by “Ligeia” and others among his best stories, obviously serves as an example of “the singular heightened into the strange and mystical.” Most of Poe’s early stories and a good many of his later stories fall under one or another of these rubrics.

In this same remarkable letter Poe mentions some of the stories that had found their way into the contemporary magazines and which seemed to him to represent contemporary modes, — among them, Mudford’s “The Man in the Bell,” which he was presently to burlesque in “A Predicament,”(1) and two of Bulwer’s stories, “Monos and Daimonos” (which apparently served as a partial source of [page 163:] “Silence. A Fable”) and “Manuscript Found in a Madhouse”(1) (which perhaps suggested to him the title of the “MS. Found in a Bottle”). In his “How to Write a Blackwood Article” (1838) Poe makes a similar list of stories that had been published in Blackwood’s,(2) including again The Man in the Bell,” and in addition “The Dead Alive,” “The Involuntary Experimentalist,” and Samuel Warren’s “Passages from the Diary of a Late Physician.” In each of this second group of stories, as Miss Margaret Alterton has rightly observed,(3) the emphasis is on the analysis of sensation, which furnishes accordingly a fifth type of story which Poe found to be in vogue and which he proceeded to pattern after in his own stories. For although he ridicules the analysis of sensation both in “How to Write a Blackwood Article” and in “Loss of Breath,” he employed this method for his own purposes and with serious intent in his “MS. Found in a Bottle” among his earlier stories and in “The Pit and the Pendulum,” “A Descent into the Maelström,” and “The Colloquy of Monos and Una” among later stories.

There were many stories of these types in the magazines of the day, and not only in Blackwood’s and other British periodicals, but also in the American periodicals, as Godey’s Lady’s Book, the Mirror, the Casket, and the Saturday Evening Post. Professor [page 164:] Woodberry informs us that W. M. Griswold believed that four stories published in Godey’s in 1833-1834 were Poe’s,(1) basing his belief on the similarity in matter and style to Poe’s fully authenticated stories. Professor Wilt has called attention to upwards of a dozen other stories resembling Poe’s authentic work that appeared in English and American magazines about the same time;(2) and reference to the magazines and weeklies of the thirties will reveal scores of others. It was from such stories that Poe derived the impulse to the writing of his own stories, and their significance in accounting for his origins as a writer of short stories cannot easily be overestimated.

Poe also, as I have already brought out in discussing his backgrounds, catered to the demands of his day in treating in his stories a number of specific subjects that were popular with contributors to the current periodicals, — as the pestilence and its terrors, exploration by land and sea, premature burial, and mesmerism.

Several of his stories, moreover, originated as satires on contemporary books or fashions or customs for which Poe had developed a distaste. In “How to Write a Blackwood Article” and its sequel, “A Predicament,” he endeavors to satirize the type of story in favor with Blackwood’s. “Loss of Breath,” which originally bore the sub-title “A Tale Neither In Nor Out of Blackwood,” is confessedly a burlesque [page 165:] on Blackwood’s. “A Tale of Jerusalem,” as Professor James Southall Wilson has shown,(1) was intended as a burlesque of Horace Smith’s Zillah, a Tale of Jerusalem (1828). “X-ing a Paragrab” and “The Literary Life of Thingum Bob, Esq.,” among later stories, have to do with the foibles of editors and with their animosities. “Lionizing” is directed against extravagance in praise of some popular hero, specifically in this instance of N. P. Willis. “Never Bet the Devil Your Head” pokes fun at the moral tale, “The Devil in the Belfry” at small-town complacency, and “The Business Man” and “Diddling Considered as One of the Exact Sciences” at various kinds of fraud and quackery.

The plots for a number of his stories Poe found in the periodicals of his time. Two very interesting examples of his reliance upon contemporary newspapers are afforded by “The Mystery of Marie Roger and “Three Sundays in a Week.” “The Mystery of Marie Rogêt,” as Poe reveals in a succession of foot-notes, was built up on newspaper accounts of the murder of Mary Rogers at Weehawken, in June, 1841;(2) while “Three Sundays in a Week” is an ingenious reworking of a story, “Three Thursdays [page 166:] days in One Week,” published in the Philadelphia Public Ledger for October 29, 1841.(1)

A very interesting example of Poe’s use of materials found in contemporary magazines is afforded by his tale “The Pit and the Pendulum,” which represents, as Professor D. L. Clark has shown,(2) the amalgamation of three stories from Blackwood’s, — “The Man in the Bell,” “The Iron Shroud,” and “The Involuntary Experimentalist,” — together with supplementary material from Charles Brock-den Brown’s Edgar Huntley. Other stories that seem to have been based, at least in part, on materials drawn from periodicals are “William Wilson,” which appears to have had its origin in a similar story of double selfhood told by Irving in an article entitled “An Unwritten Drama of Lord Byron’s” and published in the Knickerbocker for August, 1835;(3) “A Descent into the Maelström,” which was probably suggested in part by the account of the Drontheim Whirlpool in Alexander’s Weekly Messenger for October 10, 1838; and “The Premature Burial,” which apparently drew its account of the burial alive of [page 167:] “Mademoiselle Victorine Lafourcade”(1) from the Philadelphia Casket of September, 1827.(2) It is possible, too, that the gory ending of “Berenice” was suggested by a paragraph in the Baltimore Saturday Visiter of February 23, 1833, about the robbing of graves “for the sake of obtaining human teeth,” and that “Some Words with a Mummy” drew suggestions from a similar tale entitled “Letter from a Revived Mummy” published in the New York Mirror of January 21, 1832.(3) And it is altogether likely that his “X-ing a Paragrab” owes something to a skit entitled “Xtraordinary Play upon Xes,” published in the Mirror for September 12, 1840.(4)

Still other stories grew out of Poe’s interest in contemporary exploration. During the year preceding the publication of the first installment of his Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym Poe had reviewed in the Southern Literary Messenger (August, 1836) (5) a report made to Congress by his friend J. N. Reynolds on a projected expedition into the South Seas, and from this report, as Mr. R. L. Rhea has shown,(6) he borrowed a good deal of the material that went into [page 168:] his story, paraphrasing his original very closely at several points and actually reproducing without change in a few instances passages of a dozen words or more. For the same story Poe also borrowed freely from Captain Benjamin Morrell’s Narrative of Four Voyages, to the South Sea (1832).(1)

Another of his stories in which he endeavors to capitalize the contemporary interest in exploration is “The Journal of Julius Rodman,” which has to do, however, not with discoveries at sea, but with an expedition by land into the unexplored regions of the Northwest. For this story also he drew freely on the accounts of others. For much of his material, as Professor Woodberry has demonstrated,(2) he relied on Irving’s Astoria; he also drew, as Mr. H. A. Turner has pointed out, on Irving’s The Adventures of Captain Bonneville;(3) and he borrowed extensively from Lewis and Clark’s Expedition,(4) in each instance resorting to the same method as that adopted in the composition of his Arthur Gordon Pym, — that of compilation and of close paraphrase.

And yet other stories are an outgrowth of Poe’s interest in metaphysics and the natural sciences. “Bon-Bon” and “The Duc de L’Omelette” are farces in which would-be philosophers play the central [page 169:] rôles; “Morella” is made to turn upon the philosophical idea of identity, which Poe attributes to Schelling;(1) and “The Power of Words” is based on the ancient idea that “the source of all motion is thought.”(2) Among stories that have to do with scientific problems are “A Descent into the Maelström,” the climax of which is based on a principle which Poe attributes to Archimedes;(3) “Some Words with a Mummy,” in which the galvanic battery is made to play an important part; and “The Strange Case of M. Valdemar” and “Mesmeric Revelation,” both of which are concerned with the pseudo-science of mesmerism.(4) Semi-scientific also are his “Adventures of Hans Pfaall,” which describes a balloon trip to the moon, and “The Balloon Hoax,” in which Poe professes to give an account of the first crossing of the Atlantic in an air-ship.

In three of his sketches — “Landor’s Cottage,” “The Domain of Arnheim,” and “The Landscape Garden” — he availed himself of the contemporary interest in landscape gardening. So, too, in “The Conversation of Eiros and Charmion” he capitalized the excitement aroused in the thirties and forties by Father Miller’s predictions as to the end of the world, [page 170:] — though he also avails himself, as Miss Alterton has shown, of a passage in Dr. Thomas Dick’s The Christian Philosopher.(1) “The Oval Portrait” is said to have had its origin in a painting done by the artist Robert M. Sully.(2) And the original of Poe’s description of the cottage in “Landor’s Cottage” appears to have been, forsooth, a Currier and Ives print.(3)

Perhaps as many as a dozen of Poe’s stories were suggested in some measure by the work of other novelists. “King Pest” was evidently founded on a chapter in Disraeli’s Vivian Grey, in which we have an account of an adventure with a similar group of roisterers;(4) and “Metzengerstein” apparently borrowed Gothic details both from Vivian Grey and from The Castle of Otranto.(5) “Lionizing” is an extravaganza done in the manner of Bulwer’s “Too Handsome for Anything.”(6) “Silence. A Fable” appears to have drawn hints from Bulwer’s “Monos and Daimonos”; and “The Cask of Amontillado” has perhaps profited by a scene in The Last Days of Pompeii.(8) The incident of the walling up of the victim in “The Cask of Amontillado” probably goes back to a similar incident in Balzac’s story “La [page 171:] Grande Bretèche.”(1) “The Mask of the Red Death” is pretty clearly indebted to William Harrison Ainsworth’s Old Saint Paul’s.(2) “A Tale of Jerusalem” borrowed its title from the sub-title adopted by Horace Smith for his novel Zillah (1828), and also much of its detail, with here and there a phrase from the same source.(3)

Professor Palmer Cobb(4) has endeavored to show that several of Poe’s plots were borrowed from the tales of E. T. A. Hoffmann And he has proved his case, in my judgment, in at least one instance, — that of Poe’s early story “The Assignation,” which he derives from Hoffmann’s “Doge and Dogaressa,”(5) a story that has the same setting, essentially the same major characters, and a closely parallel situation involving a liaison between the heroine, who has married (against the will of the doge of Venice) a young man to whom she is indebted for the rescue from drowning of her child (as with Poe) or of her husband (as with Hoffmann). [page 172:]

An extremely interesting example of the transformation which Poe was capable of bringing about in a story borrowed from another is afforded by his gruesome tale “Hop-Frog,” which was obviously based on an incident from Froissart’s Chronicles, an account of a mumming held at the court of Charles VI in celebration of a state marriage. This story as Poe found it (in the Broadway Journal of February 1, 1845,(1) while he was one of its editors) was merely a bald recounting of the historical incident with little or nothing of the dramatic; but Poe has made out of it a vividly tragic story of revenge, introducing also a “touch of fantasy” in representing the king and his squires as appearing in the guise of ourang-outangs.

“The Gold-Bug” is unique among Poe’s stories in that it is built up on an American legend, that of Captain Kidd’s buried treasure. Irving had treated the same legend in “The Devil and Tom Walker,” as had also Poe’s friend R. M. Bird in his Sheppard Lee (1836). With both of these narratives Poe was doubtless familiar, and it may well be that he derived hints for his story from Sheppard Lee,(2) in which we have not only the digging for gold under a huge tree in a forest, but two characters that correspond roughly to Legrand and Jupiter, the chief characters in “The Gold-Bug.”’ But Poe probably relied much [page 173:] less on his reading in this instance than was usual with him, evidently utilizing for the first half of the story reminiscences of his stay at Charleston while in the army, and capitalizing very ingeniously for the second half of the story his knowledge of cryptography.

Another illustration of Poe’s resourcefulness in utilizing materials near at hand is afforded by “The Thousand-and-Second Tale of Scheherazade,” which owes its framework to the Arabian Nights, but is largely a catalogue of the marvels of modern invention, as the steamboat, the railway train, the daguerreotype, the incubator, and the like.(1) Three other stories, “The Spectacles,” “The Man that was Used Up,” and “Why the Little Frenchman Wears his Hand in a Sling,” were apparently drawn from even less remote sources, being little more than elaborations of anecdotes which Poe had probably heard in conversation.

For several of his stories Poe made use of materials that he found in encyclopaedias. For “A Descent into the Maelström” he borrowed important details from an early edition of the Encyclopædia Britannica;(2) in “Some Words with a Mummy” he paraphrased passages from two articles in the Encyclopædia Americana;(3) and for “The Adventures of [page 174:] Hans Pfaall” he borrowed in like fashion from Rees’s Cyclopcedia.(1) Other instances of a similar appropriation of materials are afforded by “A Tale of the Ragged Mountains,” in which he copied with immaterial changes a passage from Macaulay’s “ Warren Hastings,”(2) and “The Balloon Hoax,” for which, as Professor W. B. Norris has shown,(3) he paraphrased at length from several contemporary accounts of ballooning.(4)

Besides these more tangible indebtednesses there were also literary indebtednesses of a less palpable nature. The influence of Defoe is, I think, reflected, in Arthur Gordon Pym and other early stories, in the [page 175:] simplicity and downrightness of style, and in the ingenious methods employed in the interest of verisimilitude.(1) The influence of Sterne is evident in “Lionizing.” I have fancied that Dickens’s example helps to account for “The Man of the Crowd,” and that the influence of De Quincey asserts itself in the ornateness and the mellowness of style in “The Masque of the Red Death.”(2) Hawthorne seems for once to have influenced Poe in “The Oval Portrait”;(3) and the influence of Irving’s humor is unmistakable in “Hans Pfaall” and “The Devil in the Belfry.”

In a good many of his stories Poe dealt afresh with materials that he had used in earlier stories. “Morella,” for instance, was, as Poe admitted in a letter to Philip Pendleton Cooke,(4) a fore-study for “Ligeia”; “The Due de L’Omelette” appears to have been a fore-study for “Bon-Bon”;(5) and “A Predicament” treats a situation that was later to appear in “The Devil in the Belfry” and “The Pit and the Pendulum.” In like manner the plot of [page 176:] “The Tell-Tale Heart” furnished also the plot of “The Black Cat,” and much the same situation as underlies “The Business Man” reappears in “Diddling Considered as One of the Exact Sciences.”(1)

For some of the tales, there is, in my judgment, little occasion to look for a source outside of Poe’s own fancy. Possessed of an acute and inquiring mind, Poe took pleasure in wrestling with problems of science and of philosophy, and especially in the analysis of situation. Thus it seems not improbable that “The Man of the Crowd” had its origin merely in the attempt on the part of the poet to analyze the situation presented by the initial incident of the story, that of a character obsessed by the idea of not being alone. So, also, “The Tell-Tale Heart” and “The Colloquy of Monos and Una” may be merely the elaboration of situations which the poet had conceived independently of anything he had read; and it is possible, I think, that “The Fall of the House of Usher” had a similar genesis. [page 177:]

With regard to Poe’s methods of working with his borrowed materials, there is, I think, nothing new or unfamiliar to those acquainted with the methods employed by others. In his article “Peter Snook” Poe declares that “to originate is carefully, patiently, and understandingly to combine.”(1) The process of composition with him was very largely that of combination, the combining of borrowed materials with materials evolved from his own experience and thinking, but always with more or less of modification, and a pretty constant effort to concentrate and focus and vivify.

Certain formulas as to his practice will help to explain his methods. A score or more of his tales represent the elaboration of some borrowed incident or situation, with which is combined material evoked out of his own brain or from his own experience. This is the case with his “William Wilson,” for instance, or with “The Premature Burial.” A few of the tales, as “The Pit and the Pendulum,” involve the combination of several borrowed stories or situations. Still others, as “The Business Man” and “The Thousand-and-Second Tale of Scheherazade,” are the product of a combination of miscellaneous materials, largely expository or descriptive in nature, which are incorporated in a narrative framework. And yet others, as “Shadow. A Parable” or “The Man of the Crowd,” involve the analysis and elaboration of some situation or mood; while others, — a [page 178:] good many others, — as “The Pit and the Pendulum,” “The Power of Words,” “A Descent into the Maelström,” “The Imp of the Perverse,” and “The Colloquy of Monos and Una,” represent the development of some idea (philosophical, psychological, scientific, or pseudo-scientific). These five formulas will, I believe, account for the evolution of four-fifths of Poe’s stories.(1)


I come finally to a consideration of Poe’s critical and miscellaneous essays.

I have said that Poe turned to the writing of stories as a means of making a living. If this was true of his stories, how much more true it was of his critical and editorial writing, most of it hack work, to which he was driven by stern necessity. That he acquired [page 179:] extraordinary deftness in handling the book-review, and that he at times found genuine pleasure in his work as editor and reviewer, scarcely affects the truth of this observation.

His first reviewing was probably done in Baltimore after his return from West Point in 1831, though just how soon thereafter we do not know. It is not improbable that he was employed on some Philadelphia newspaper,(1) forwarding his articles from Baltimore, as he was presently to forward his reviews to Richmond for the Messenger. At all events, he had become known to the editors of the Baltimore newspapers by 1835, and had little difficulty in procuring publication there of brief notices of successive issues of the Messenger.(2) And that he had become interested in criticism even before going to Baltimore is proved by his “Letter to B ——,” first published as the “Preface” of his Poems of 1831.

What served him as models for his reviews is a matter of interesting speculation. In every likelihood he found his models largely in the British magazines of the day, which also furnished him aid of various sorts, as we have seen, in fabricating the materials for his stories. There was, to be sure, something in the Southern temper of a hundred years ago that helps to explain him. Was it unnatural that frankness and independence and open-mindedness [page 180:] should characterize the work of one who grew up almost under the shadow of Monticello? The sharpness of some of his criticisms, too, may be explained in a measure by the fieriness of mood well known in the lower South and not unknown in Virginia, — as exhibited by John Randolph of Roanoke, for instance, or by Beverly Tucker, whom the lamented Mr. Parrington has placed along with the “fire-eaters.”(1)

But I am convinced that the chief explanation of his occasional severity and his habitual outspokenness, not to mention other commendable traits, in his reviewing, is to be found in the example set by the British reviewers, and that he was largely indebted to the British reviewers of his generation and the generation immediately preceding him, — to Jeffrey and Kit North and Gifford and Hazlitt and Macaulay. Though he satirized Blackwood’s in several instances, he nevertheless followed the example of its crusty editor by showing neither fear nor favor in his own critical judgments. He early established a familiarity with the current British magazines,(2) and he evidently had access also, particularly during his Baltimore period,(3) to back numbers of the magazines.(4) [page 181:] Both Wilson and Hazlitt he reviewed once or oftener; and he also noticed on various occasions Macaulay’s critical essays, praising them without stint at almost every point.(1)

Macaulay’s example probably meant a good deal to him by way of suggesting to him the value of concreteness and of analysis; and it has been suggested, not without plausibility, that Macaulay’s smashing review of Montgomery’s poems helped to confirm in him the disposition to “use up” an occasional victim.(2)

He owed something, too, I suspect, to Hazlitt, whose boldness and plain speaking naturally aroused his admiration; and it is not unlikely that he derived from Hazlitt the suggestion of his doctrine of “in-definitiveness” as one of the cardinal virtues of the lyric, a theory that Hazlitt had put forward in his essay “On Poetry in General” in 1818.

But his greatest indebtedness as critic was, beyond any doubt, to Coleridge. In particular, he was indebted to the Biographia Literaria for the suggestion of his earliest definition of poetry as embodied in his “Letter to B ——,” which takes as a point of departure Coleridge’s famous differentiation between poetry and science. He was also influenced by Coleridge’s well-known differentiation between imagination and fancy, to which he adverts more than once in his reviews; and he perhaps owed to him also, [page 182:] as Prescott(1) suggests, the idea that a long poem cannot exist. At least indirectly he must also have been obligated to Wordsworth, whose critical prefaces he had read,(2) and whose insistence upon instruction as an end in art doubtless helped him to clarify his own thinking on the subject and thus opened the way to his vigorous repudiation of didacticism.

He perhaps owed something also to August Wilhelm Schlegel, with whom he associates, in an early review in the Southern Literary Messenger,(3) the doctrine of “unity or totality of interest,” out of which he presently developed the idea which lies at the base of his famous definition of the short story, that of “unity or totality of effect.”(4)

Of more specific sources it may be noted that in the case of his review of Stephens’s Arabia Petræa, a critique on which he plumed himself, he made use of materials supplied him by the classical scholar Dr. Charles Anthon.(5) And he probably did a good deal more of the same sort of thing.

In other instances, as we know, — and I suspect in a good many other instances, — he adopted the short cut of paraphrasing or copying outright from the [page 183:] book under review, — much as he did in his borrowings for a number of his stories. This was done extensively in his review of Irving’s Astoria,(1) for which he carried over, with immaterial changes, a dozen or more pages from Irving’s book.

As for his miscellaneous prose writings, Professor Woodberry has shown that he levied on Brewster’s Letters on Natural Magic for some of the information embodied in his article on “Maelzel’s Chess-Player”;(2) and it is plain that he drew upon Newton, Laplace, Kepler, Humboldt, Sir John Herschel, Leverrier, and others for the materials underlying his Eureka. Miss Alterton has recently shown that he borrowed at one point in Eureka from Dr. Dick’s The Christian Philosopher, a semi-popular treatise of the day;(3) and Mr. M. N. Posey has drawn attention to the fact that he also embodied a passage from Rees’s Cyclopædia in his notes on Eureka.(4)

For his “Literary Small Talk,” as Mr. T. O. Mabbott has pointed out, he borrowed from Gibbon’s Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire.(5) For his “Pinakidia “ he ransacked such works as Disraeli’s Curiosities of Literature, Montgomery’s Lectures on Literature, Bryant’s Mythology, and Bielfeld’s Les Premiers Traits de l’Erudition Universelle.(6) At least [page 184:] one of his “Marginalia,” the pun on the quail, he borrowed from Sheridan.(1)

And there is the unhappy story of the composition of his Conchologist’s First Book. For this work, which reveals Poe’s creative powers at their lowest ebb, and which furnishes one of the unhappiest chapters in his history, he paraphrased or boldly copied virtually everything in the volume from a similar treatise by a Captain Thomas Brown. It scarcely affects the case that Poe withdrew his name from the title-page of the book when attention was publicly called to his appropriation of another’s materials, — though it must be conceded that the circumstances attending his connection with the volume, in which he collaborated with a Dr. Wyatt, are not entirely clear.(2) But the case seems bad enough, whatever may be the extenuating circumstances. Poe’s defense of himself when publicly pilloried for what he appears to have done was that “all school-books are necessarily made in a similar way.”(3) [page 185:]


I began my discussion of Poe’s origins with the statement that much has already been done by way of revealing the poet’s sources. I shall conclude with the statement that much yet remains to be done. In particular, I think we may look forward to having fuller information as to the origins of Poe’s stories. A good deal will come out, if I am not much mistaken, with a more thorough examination of the newspapers and magazines of Poe’s time; and I look for further revelations to follow upon a closer examination of French and German literature. Are there perhaps prototypes of his early farces, “Bon-Bon” and “The Due de L ‘Omelette,” in French literature? Did he owe anything to Voltaire? With the passing of time more light will also be thrown, I believe, on the origins of his critical theory. What, if anything, did he owe to Schlegel? Was he influenced by Novalis?(1) And how much and what did he owe to the German philosophers?

I shall venture one further generalization as to Poe’s method of working with his sources. It has frequently been said that his method as artist was thoroughly mechanical: this is what Mr. Lewis Mum-ford meant,(2) if I read him aright, when he asserted that Poe’s world was “plutonian like that of Watt [page 186:] and Fulton and Gradgrind.” I am aware that Poe’s account of the composition of “The Raven” lends color to such a view; and so also with the too obviously mechanical nature of some of his poems — as “Lenore” in its final form — and of some of his stories, — as “William Wilson” and “The Business Man”; and so also with what we know of his habits of revision. But I am not sure that this theory will hold for the bulk of Poe’s work. On the contrary, I wonder whether Poe’s methods of composition in the case of most of his poems and tales were radically different from the methods employed by other artists of whatever age or race.



[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 147:]

1.  Poe’s Works, XII, 50 f. “Outis” made light of this, to be sure, but the poet Stedman, years later, expressed the opinion (Poe’s Works, ed. Stedman and Woodberry, X, xxvi) that Poe “surely found his clew” in Coleridge’s poem.

2.  In its issue of March 14, 1846.

3.  The Philadelphia Saturday Courier, January 22, 1848.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 148:]

1.  The Knickerbocker, XXXV, 163 (February, 1850).

2.  The Southern Literary Messenger, XXV, 334-335 (November, 1857).

3.  In foot-notes I have endeavored to make acknowledgment of all specific suggestions that I have availed myself of.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 149:]

1.  Supra, pp. 99 f.

2.  Pp. 126 f.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 150:]

1.  The nature of these indebtednesses I have tried to bring out in detail in my edition of Poe’s Poems (Boston, 1917). I shall here do little more than mention the chief influences and borrowings.

2.  See Poe’s Works, ed. Stedman and Woodberry, X, xx.

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 151:]

1.  Modern Language Notes, XXXVIII, 174 (March, 1918).

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 152:]

1.  The “Valentine Letters,” p. 134.

2.  Studies in Philology, XX, 306 (July, 1923). It should be noted, however, that Shelley had used the same refrain in his lines entitled “A Lament,” and that Lowell had also used it in his “Threnodia” (1839).

3.  Poe’s Works, ed. Stedman and Woodberry, X, 223.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 154:]

1.  See Floyd Stovall, “Poe’s Debt to Coleridge,” University of Texas Studies in English, No. 10, pp. 70 f. (1930).

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 156:]

1.  See Poe’s Works, ed. Stedman and Woodberry, X, 194-195.

2.  Poe’s lines originally read,

“To the beauty of fair Greece,

To the grandeur of old Rome,”

which approximates Wordsworth’s line even more closely. — See for other possible indebtednesses to Wordsworth, H. M. Belden’s Observation and Imagination in Coleridge and Poe, pp. 30, 36.

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 157, running to the bottom of page 158:]

1.  Poe had reviewed Mrs. Browning’s volume (The Drama of Exile, and Other Poems) containing “Lady Geraldine’s Courtship” in the Broadway Journal of January 4 and 11, 1845 (Poe’s Works, XII, 1 f.), and had in the course of his review remarked that with one exception he had “never perused a poem combining so much of the fiercest passion with so much of the most ethereal fancy, as the ‘Lady Geraldine’s Courtship’ “ (ibid., p. 16), and in the same connection he had quoted (ibid., p. 18) from Mrs. Browning’s poem the stanza containing the last of her lines cited above. Among other passages quoted in his review (ibid., p. 30) is the stanza from Mrs. Browning’s “The Lost Bower,” beginning:

“So, young muser, I sat listening

To my Fancy’s wildest word:

On a sudden, through the glistening

Leaves around, a little stirred,

Came a sound, a sense of music which was rather felt than heard,” [page 158:]

which will, I think, also remind one of “The Raven,” and certainly of its rhythmical movement. 1 Poe’s Works, XI, 63.

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 158:]

2.  Burton’s Gentleman’s Magazine, V, 144 (September, 1839).

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 159:]

1.  Journal of English and Germanic Philology, XXI, 341 f. (April, 1922).

2.  See Poe’s Politian, ed. Mabbott, Richmond, 1923, pp. 51 f.

3.  Supra, pp. 131 f.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 160:]

1.  Supra, pp. 156 f.

2.  His habits of revision I have discussed in the introduction of my edition of Poe’s poems, pp. xxxv f.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 161:]

1.  See the Dial, LX, 146 (February 17, 1916).

2.  See the article of Professor Napier Wilt, Modern Philology, XXV, 101 f. (August, 1927).

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 162:]

1.  He drew on the same story in the composition of three other stories: “The Devil in the Belfry,” “Never Bet the Devil Your Head,” and “The Pit and the Pendulum.”

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 163:]

1.  Both of these stories appeared in an early edition published at Boston by Phillips, Sampson, and Company.

2.  Poe’s Works, II, 273-274.

3.  Origins of Poe’s Critical Theory, pp. 30 f.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 164:]

1.  Woodberry, I, 134 n.

2.  Modern Philology, XXV, 103.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 165:]

1.  The American Mercury, XXIV, 218 (October, 1931).

2.  The plot of his companion story, “The Murders in the Rue Morgue,” was also in every likelihood drawn from newspaper accounts, I may note in passing, though I have been unable to establish this. An apparent clue to its origin is an altogether circumstantial statement published anonymously in the Washington Post for October 3, 1912, according to which Poe’s story originated in accounts of the murder of a Parisian courtesan, Rose Delacourt.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 166:]

1.  See the article of Miss F. N. Cherry in American Literature, II, 223 f. (November, 1930).

2.  “The Sources of Poe’s The Pit and the Pendulum,” Modern Language Notes, XLIV, 349 f. (June, 1929).

3.  VI, 142 f. — It was probably this article to which Irving referred in an entry in his Journal for July 18, 1859 (P. M. Irving’s Life of Irving, IV, 305), in which he says that Poe wrote him on one occasion asking for permission to use material of his for a story; though possibly the reference was to materials used in his “Journal of Julius Rodman” (see below, p. 168). See also in this connection Woodberry, I, 232 n.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 167:]

1.  Poe’s Works, V, 258 f. See also the suggestion of Miss Lucille King (University of Texas Studies in English, No. 10, pp. 128 f., 1930) to the effect that the incident of a “Mr. Stapleton” told by Poe in the same story (Poe’s Works, V, 261 f.) is from a tale entitled “The Buried Alive” published in Blackwood’s for October, 1821 (X, 262 f.).

2.  II, 340 f.

3.  As Miss Lucille King has suggested in University of Texas Studies in English, No. 10, pp. 130 f. (1930).

4.  I am indebted for this suggestion to Mrs. Gladys E. Steen.

5.  Poe’s Works, IX, 84 f.

6.  University of Texas Studies in English, No. 10, pp. 135 f. (1930).

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 168:]

1.  Poe’s Works, ed. Stedman and Woodberry, V, 355 f.; J. W. Robertson, Poe: A Study, San Francisco, 1921, p. 259.

2.  Poe’s Works, ed. Stedman and Woodberry, V, 359 f.

3.  University of Texas Studies in English, No. 10, pp. 147 f.

4.  As Miss P. P. Crawford has shown: ibid., No. 12, pp. 158 f. (1932).

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 169:]

1.  Poe’s Works, II, 29.

2.  Ibid., VI, 143.

3.  See Modern Language Notes, XLII, 520 (December, 1927).

4.  It has been suggested (see T. T. Watts, Rambles and Reveries of an Art Student in Europe, pp. 36 f.) that a partial source of this story was a novel, The Seeress of Prevorst, published by the Harpers, and advertised in the Broadway Journal of August 2, 1845 (II, 63).

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 170:]

1.  Origins of Poe’s Critical Theory, p. 141.

2.  See Miss Phillips, Poe — the Man, p. 691.

3.  As suggested by Professor Henry S. Canby in his Classic Americans, New York [1931], p. 273.

4.  Poe’s Works, ed. Stedman and Woodberry, iv, 295.

5.  University of Texas Studies in English, No. 10, p. 129 (1930).

6.  Woodberry, I, 130.

7.  Poe’s Works, ed. Stedman and Woodberry, iv, 296.

8.  Bk. IV, chap. 13.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 171:]

1.  H. S. Canby and others, in their English Composition, New York, 1909, pp. 348 f., have reprinted these two stories side by side.

2.  Transactions of the American Philological Association for 1907, p. xxxi. It is possible, I think, that Poe also owed something to an account by N. P. Willis in the New York Mirror for June 2, 1832 (IX, 380), of a masked ball that he had attended in Paris, in the course of which there was a “cholera waltz” and a “cholera galopade,” and a masked figure impersonating the “ Cholera itself.”

3.  James Southall Wilson, in the American Mercury, XXIV, 215 f. (October, 1931).

4.  The Influence of E. T. A. Hoffman on the Tales of Edgar Allan Poe. Chapel Hill, North Carolina, 1908.

5.  Ibid., pp. 81 f.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 172:]

1.  I, 71.

2.  Poe had reviewed Sheppard Lee in the Southern Literary Messenger for September, 1836 (Poe’s Works, IX, 126 f.).

3.  See the Nation, XC, 625 f. (June 23, 1910).

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 173:]

1.  The same basic plot, it may be noted, Washington Irving had adopted some twenty years before for his farce Abou Hassan, using as his immediate source Von Weber’s opera of the same name.

2.  Poe’s Works, ed. Stedman and Woodberry, IV, 290 f.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 173, running to the bottom of page 174:]

3.  See University of Texas Studies in English, No. 10, pp. 131 f. (1930). It is possible also to account for the names of a number of Poe’s [page 174:] characters. “William Wilson” was the name of one of John Allan’s agents in England, a Quaker who lived first in Cheapside and later at Kendal. “Wormley” and “Thornton,” from the “Journal of Julius Rodman,” and “Preston” from “William Wilson,” are names of Virginia families with which Poe was familiar. “Julius Rodman” is, I suspect, a modification of the given names of Joseph Rodman Drake. The name “Dupin” was in all likelihood suggested by the family name of “George Sand,” Madame Dupin. “Pauline Dubourg” in “The Murders in the Rue Morgue” must have been suggested by the proprietors of the school which Poe attended in London in 1816-1817. It is not mere coincidence, I suspect, that characters bearing the surnames “Alexandre” and “Dumas” appear in close juxtaposition in the same story. Poe had employed a similar makeshift in his Politian in utilizing the given name of Baldassare Castiglione for one of his characters and the surname for another.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 174:]

1.  See the article of Mr. M. N. Posey in Modern Language Notes, xLv, 505 f. (December, 1930).

2.  Cf. Henry Austin in Literature for August 4, 1899.

3.  See the Nation, XCI, 389 f. (October 27, 1910).

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 174, running to the bottom of page 175:]

4.  Certain of Poe’s titles, moreover, were evidently drawn from his reading. “Eiros and Charmion” must have come from Shakespeare’s Antony and Cleopatra. “Monos and Una” (involving one of Poe’s many puns) was perhaps suggested by Bulwer’s title “Monos and Daimonos.” “Diddling Considered as One of the Exact Sciences” involves a reminiscence [page 175:] of James Kenney’s Jeremy Diddler. “A Tale of Jerusalem” adopts as its title the sub-title of Horace Smith’s Zillah. “Mellonta Tauta” is from the Antigone of Sophocles, the rejected titles “Siope” and “Epimanes” are adaptations of common nouns from the Greek, and “Ligeia,” “Berenice,” and “The Sphinx” obviously go back to Greek myth.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 175:]

1.  There are also passages in Arthur Gordon Pym and “MS. Found in a Bottle” that suggest the influence of “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner.”

2.  A parallel in situation between De Quincey’s Klosterheim and Poe’s “The Masque of the Red Death” may also be worth noting.

3.  As well in substance as in style.

4.  Poe’s Works, xvii, 52 ff.

5.  Or did “Bon-Bon” serve as a fore-study for “The Due de L ‘Omelette,” in spite of the fact that “The Duc de L’Omelette” was published ahead of it?

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 176:]

1.  Here also may be mentioned the interplay between Poe’s tales and poems. The death of a beautiful woman, or, more precisely, the grief occasioned by her death, which furnished the theme of “The Raven” and still other poems, is also dealt with in “Ligeia “ and “Morelia” and “Berenice.” The realm of departed spirits, which Poe treats in half a dozen of his poems, is also the theme of “Silence. A Fable.” There is interplay, too, between Poe’s stories and his expository prose. “Mesmeric Revelation,” for instance, contains passages that anticipate passages in Eureka; “The Business Man” has something in common with the essay entitled “Peter Snook”; and the second half of “The Gold-Bug” is related to the papers on cryptography.

A good many of Poe’s stories, moreover, as I have already shown, are in some sense autobiographical: see above, pp. 135 f.

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 177:]

1.  Poe’s Works, XIV, 73.

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page 178:]

1.  How far Poe is to be held blamable for his borrowings from others for his stories is a matter upon which opinion has differed. Dr. John W. Robertson holds (Poe: A Study, p. 259) that he has in no way exceeded his rights in his extensive paraphrasing of passages from Morrell’s Voyages in his Arthur Gordon Pym. On the other hand, Professor W. D. Armes would have it (Transactions of the American Philological Association for 1907, p. xxxi) that in borrowing from Disraeli’s Vivian Grey suggestions for the account of the debauch that furnishes the central situation in “King Pest “ — an account for which he carried over no word of Disraeli’s — he has committed a serious offense. For my own part, I cannot feel that Poe in such debt as he incurred to Disraeli in this instance has violated the proprieties, for he has freely recast his borrowed material, has, I think, improved upon his original, and has set unmistakably the mark of his own individuality upon the story. But I find it difficult to acquit Poe of all guilt in his copying from Morrell for his Pym, and so also with his appropriations from Irving in “Julius Rodman” and from Macaulay in “A Tale of the Ragged Mountains.”

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 179:]

1.  As Mr. J. H. Whitty holds (The Poems of Poe, p. xxxvi), on the authority of Poe’s friend, F. W. Thomas.

2.  See the notice in the Baltimore Republican for May 14, 1835, and see also Woodberry, I, 113 f.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 180:]

1.  V. L. Parrington, Main Currents in American Thought, New York, 1927, u, 36.

2.  Indirectly, also, he may have been influenced by the example of American magazines and weeklies in their all but habitual indulgence in laudation of their own authors and their own things, a practice that Poe abhorred and that he let slip no opportunity to condemn.

3.  At which time he did some of his most fruitful reading.

4.  According to Mr. Hervey Allen (Israfel, p. 129) the firm of Ellis and Allan imported the current British magazines, and sold them over their counters.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 181:]

1.  Poe’s Works, X, 156 f.; mil, 193 f.; xiv, 191.

2.  F. C. Prescott, Poe’s Critical Essays, New York, 1909, pp. xxxiv f.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 182:]

1.  Poe’s Critical Essays, p. xxxiii. See also the article of Professor Floyd Stovall, “Poe’s Debt to Coleridge,” in the University of Texas Studies in English. No. 10, pp. 93 f. (1930).

2.  Prescott, p. xxxii.

3.  IX, 113 (January, 1836) ; Poe’s Works, VIII, 126. See also Prescott, pp. xxx f., and Stovall, p. 93.

4.  In his review of Hawthorne’s Twice-Told Tales in Graham’s Magazine, Poe’s Works, XI, 104 f.

5.  Ibid., X, 1 f.; XVII, a f.

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 183:]

1.  Ibid., IX, 207 f.

2.  Woodberry, I, 178.

3.  Origins of Poe’s Critical Theory, pp. 138 f.

4.  Modern Language Notes, XIX, 507 (December, 1930).

5.  Doings of Gotham, p. 27.

6.  American Literature, I, 197 f. (May, 1929).

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 184:]

1.  See Brander Matthews, Pen and Ink, p. 37. As Professor Carl Schreiber has shown (the Colophon, II, 2 [May, 1930]), he borrowed another from Prince Pückler-Moskau, The Tour of a Prince (as translated by Sarah Austin).

2.  See Poe’s Works, I, 146 f.; Woodberry, I, 194 f.; Allen, Israfel, pp. 442 f., 627; Miss Mary E. Phillips, Poe — the Man, pp. 562 f.; and Gardner Teall, the New York Times, December 3, 1922. Mr. Teall, it may be noted, minimizes Poe’s guilt in the matter.

3.  Poe’s Works, XVII, 278; the University of Virginia Alumni Bulletin, XVII, 46 (January, 1924).

[The following footnotes appear at the bottom of page 185:]

1.  See the suggestion of Paul Elmer More, Studies in Philology, XX, 304 (July, 1923).

2.  The Golden Day, New York, 1926, p. 76.







[S:0 - KCMP, 1933] - Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - Articles - The Mind of Poe and Other Studies (K. Campbell) (The Origins of Poe)