Text: Joseph J. Moldenhauer, “Mabbott’s Poe and the Question of Copy-Text,” Poe Studies, December 1978, Vol. XI, No. 2, 11:41-46


[page 41, column 2:]

Mabbott’s Poe and the
Question of Copy-Text

Thomas Ollive Mabbott, editor. Collected Works of Edgar Allan Poe: Volume II, Tales and Sketches 1831-1842, Volume III, Tales and Sketches 1843-1849. Cambridge, Mass.: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1978. xxxii, 1451 pp. $45.00.

These two volumes of Poe’s short fiction, when joined to Mabbott’s edition of Poems ( Volume I of the Belknap Collected Works), form a monument to a dedicated scholar’s career, the consummation of a lifetime study of the man Poe and his works. The signal virtues of Tales and Sketches are its inclusiveness (all Poe’s shorter fictional and semi-fictional prose appears here, with the conspicuous exception of “Hans Pfaall,” scheduled with Julius Rodman and Pym for a later volume); the usual accuracy and completeness of textual histories; the reporting of all substantive variants among relevant texts; the informational notes, especially those on allusions, sources, and analogues; and the restraint exercised in the area of critical and interpretive commentary. If it were only for the massive annotations, a virtual encyclopedia of Mabbott’s and others’ factual discoveries, Tales and Sketches would become an indispensable collected edition for scholars of Poe. With Professor Mabbott’s death in 1968, responsibility for seeing Poems through the press fell upon Eleanor D. Kewer, Special Projects Editor for Harvard University Press, and Mrs. Maureen C. Mabbott. These same “assisting editors” enjoyed the collaboration of Professor Burton R. Pollin in applying the final touches to Tales and Sketches and overseeing its publication. The team did its work well, updating the scholarly documentation ( in bracketed additions to Mabbott’s copy) and carrying through the original editor’s design for the edition. If Tales and Sketches is found wanting in any important respect, the deficiency lies not in the execution of the project but in its conception.

In the “Preface to the Projected Edition” that opened Volume I of the Collected Works, Mabbott expressed his view of “the chief duties of an editor”: “to present what an author wrote, to explain why he wrote it, to tell what he meant when he wrote it (if that be in any way now obscure), and to give a history of its publication” (I, xvii-xviii). Though generally put, these are laudable objectives. The second, third, and fourth demand the skills of the literary historian and biographer, skills amply evidenced in Mabbott’s informational endnotes and in splendid preliminary essays which discuss the chief topical and literary influences upon each piece, its biographical context, the circumstances of its initial publication, and interesting details of its contemporary reception. These introductory essays conclude with a report of the relevant texts — manuscripts, magazine and gift-book printings, collected lifetime printings and reprints in books by Poe, printed copies marked by the author, first posthumous collected reprint (usually in Griswold’s edition, 1850-1856), and unauthorized lifetime reprints and translations. Mabbott’s identification and justification of his “basic text” (that is, copy-text) completes each headnote. Infrequently, Mabbott supplements his introductions or his endnotes with brief critical interpretations or summaries of others’ critical positions; [page 42:] here he acts on the premise that “some evaluation of the more important works may be desirable” in addition to the other editorial objectives (I, xviii). He seems to recognize, however, that “purely aesthetic” analysis and appraisal comprise the least stable and permanent of an editor’s contributions, and he wisely holds them to a minimum. The edition would not suffer if they were excluded altogether.

The first duty in Mabbon’s list, “to present what [Poe] wrote,” cannot be divorced from the fourth (textual history) and demands the skills of the textual critic and textual editor. The remainder of my remarks about Tales and Sketches will’ concentrate on Mr. Mabbott’s theory and practice as a textualist, and they will be largely uncomplimentary. I expect that these volumes will become the standard or “definitive” Poe texts. This status they will attain by default, for want of a better complete edition of Poe’s tales. Scholars and critics who are seriously concerned about the validity of the texts they analyze will still be forced to consult and cite the manuscripts, specific lifetime printings, and unique copies of printed works bearing Poe’s autograph revisions; alternatively, they will have to construct critical texts of Poe works, employing editorial principles quite different from and more systematic than those which guided Professor Mabbott.

Over the past three decades textual editing has arisen and been refined as a discipline. Based on an understanding of printing technologies and the practices of commercial printers and publishers, this discipline incorporates a body of general principles and a set of concrete procedures for recapturing authorial intention. Modern textual criticism can be conveniently dated from W. W. Greg’s essay, “The Rationale of Copy-Text,” in Studies in Bibliography for 1950-1951. Theorists and practitioners of Greg’s approach — Fredson Bowers being the most notable — have produced, by now, a quite voluminous literature. Some dozens of large-scale editorial projects, involving hundreds of scholars and receiving vast amounts of material aid from federal agencies and educational institutions, are turning out books that reflect the new textual methodology. Among the nineteenth-century American authors being edited in these projects — all team efforts, it should be noted — are Irving, Cooper, Emerson, Hawthorne, Thoreau, Melville, Mark Twain, and Howells. When Mabbott planned his edition in the 1920’s (I, xvii) these developments were yet undreamed of; but in the fifteen years before his death, while the edition was his major enterprise, the new textual criticism raised a formidable challenge to earlier, less formal editorial approaches. Nothing in Collected Works of Edgar Allan Poe suggests that he recognized the challenge. Mabbott was either oblivious of, or indifferent to, the work in progress around him; or, possibly, he found it so alien to his established habits that he rejected even its vocabulary.

The “Greg-Bowers” approach distinguishes between substantives — words and word order — and accidentals — the forms of spelling, punctuation, capitalization, and the like. Over both his substantives and his accidentals an author enjoys full control until a manuscript leaves his hand for the printshop. There, changes occur in his text in the course of copy-editing, type-composition, and printing mishaps. The majority of these changes will affect accidentals, as editors and typographers impose house-style or substitute [column 2:] their own minor forms upon the author’s, through either personal preference or negligence. If the author has opportunity to read proof (as Poe often did not), the pressures of printer’s deadlines and the expense of changing type would encourage him to limit his corrections and revisions to substantives and to those accidentals that distinctly warp his meaning — even if he were able and inclined to compare the proofs in every detail with his printer’s-copy manuscript. With each resetting of a text, as it moves from, say, a magazine form to a book, or from a first (true) edition to a second, or from a separate book-tide to a collected edition, more non-authorial readings intrude. These impositions again chiefly affect the accidentals, the most fragile and unobtrusive features of the text; and again the author, if he reads proof, will tend to correct only substantives and the more glaring errors in accidentals. Moreover, when an author revises a published work for reprinting, he almost invariably, and for obvious reasons, enters his changes on a printed specimen of the text — typically the most recent printing. The revisions he dictates may include accidentals (see, for example, Poe’s numerous changes of pointing in the J. Lorimer Graham copy of 1845 Tales); but even if these changes are respected, the new typesetting will perpetuate other non-authorial elements in the earlier printing and is all too likely to introduce new strata of house-style and new examples of compositors’ sophistication and carelessness.

If a scholarly (“critical”) edition is to recover the author’s intention, therefore, it must be founded upon the document which most accurately reflects his accidentals. This is the “copy-text.” After the editor identifies and assembles all forms of the text over which the author could conceivably have exercised control, he determines their exact differences by sight collation and insures against concealed differences in presumably identical impressions of printed works by means of mechanical collation. Thus he establishes their genetic sequence or order of transmission. The editor next picks his copy-text according to the following hierarchy of preference, in descending order: 1) author’s fair-copy manuscript (usually printer’s copy for the first printing) 2) author-revised and corrected proofsheets for the first printing (none of Poe’s survive); 3) first printed form; 4) first printing bearing author’s corrections and revisions (normally printer’s copy for reprint); 5) first reprint; and so on — though few editors are obliged to descend below 3) due to the loss of preferable materials.

Having selected copy-text on the strength of its relative reliability of accidentals, the editor proceeds to emend. His emendations of substantives will carry the authority of the author’s later intentions, as ascertainable a) from marked copies like the Lorimer Graham Tales, b) from reprints over which the author exerted some measure of control (such as the Broadway Journal reprints of many tales), and c) from other documentary sources such as letters of instruction or complaint by the author to the publisher. Emendation of copy-text accidentals will carry authorial weight only where new accidentals are integral to emended substantives, or where copy marked by the author survives to direct the changes, or in cases like (c) above. Any other emendation of accidentals will be performed on the editor’s own authority and should be governed by the greatest caution: only where serious distortion of the author’s intended [page 43:] meaning results from a copy-text accidental, or where an accidental is inadmissible according to the norms of the author’s day, or when a printed accidental deviates from a proven, consistent authorial accidental (for example, the spelling “Shakspeare” or the hyphenation “blue-bird”) should emendation of these features be considered.

Because the process of printing and reprinting also tends to introduce small non-authorial substantive changes like”toward/towards,” “these/those,” and “that/which” — whether or not the author reads proof — the scholarly editor should not automatically admit as an emendation every substantive variation from a relevant post-copy-text printing. Rather, each emendation to the copy-text must be admitted on its individual merits, and these merits must be argued, in problematical cases, before the scholarly community.

Like adherents of the Greg-Bowers approach, Professor Mabbott limits the range of potential copy-texts to those where authorial involvement is certain or can confidently be supposed; but Mabbott’s ideal of a copy-text is that version which, “representing the latest intentions of the author, . . . should and can be reproduced with no alterations [emendations] at all” (I, xix). This ideal is only infrequently realized: a large majority of the Tales and Sketches receive some amount of emendation. Most crucially, Mabbott’s understanding of “intentions” seems confined to substantives and to those accidentals which positively alter meaning. The guiding principle inferable from his choice of “basic text” or “best text” or “master text” in Tales and Sketches, wherever two or more relevant forms exist, is that the text demanding the smallest amount of emendation is favored. Since “latest intentions” means “final authorial substantives” in Mabbott’s view, a revised reprint is automatically a better copy-text candidate than an earlier printing or a manuscript. In the absence of negative documentary evidence, it is tO be assumed that reprints showing substantive changes are authorially revised reprints. Finally, in revised reprints all substantive variants thee are not absurd are to be presumed authorial.

In short, Mabbott’s principles of copy-text choice are the direct inverse of those being used today by most, if not all, scholarly editors of American authors. Mabbott begins with the last text in the line of transmission, while they begin with the first. The difference in copy-text philosophy necessarily dictates a difference in emendation procedure. Mabbott typically emends on the authority of pre-copy-text; they typically emend on post-copy-text authority.

Copy-Text Choices. We are not surprised, then, to find Griswold’s edition providing copy-text for 44 of the 73 pieces in Tales and Sketches where an option exists among relevant forms. (In the case of three Folio Club tales which underwent extreme revision, Mabbott prints two versions: the first periodical version and a late, revised form. For two of these tales the late form is Griswold’s. Additionally, “Morella” is represented by an incomplete fair manuscript and a marked copy of a late revised reprint.) The Lorimer Graham copy yields copy-text for seven tales, Mrs. Whitman’s authorially-marked Broadway Journal for three other pieces, and the Bishop Hurst authorially-marked Eureka for yet another: in these eleven instances Griswold’s printer’s copy was an unmarked specimen of the prior printing, the copies Poe annotated being unavailable to him. When Griswold’s [column 2:] text is “verbally” (substantively) identical to the previous print and no copies of that print marked by Poe survive, Mabbott often rejects Griswold (for example, “A Tale of Jerusalem,” “Lionizing,” “Usher,” “Eiros and Charmion,” “Monos and Una,” “The Black Cat,” “Diddling,” “Ragged Mountains,” “Marginalia” preface), but in at least three parallel instances (“The Oval Portrait,” “The Landscape Garden,” “The Power of Words”) he chooses Griswold as copy-text. The matter is seriously complicated by Mabbott’s apparent determination, announced in the “Plan of This Edition,” to adopt Griswold in all such circumstances: “Even when Griswold’s edition shows but one or two changes, the presumption is in their favor, and when the last periodical text is verbally the same as Griswold’s, nothing is gained by insisting on a return to the former” ( II, xxviii-xxix) .

Where Griswold’s text shows substantive differences from the antecedent printed form (again, no marked copies of the latter surviving), Mabbott usually takes Griswold as copy-text, assuming that Griswold found marked magazine copy, now lost, in Poe’s trunk and employed this as his printer’s copy (II, xxviii). Frequently this supposition seems justified; at other times the Griswold variants in a given piece are all “indifferent” or attributable to a printer as easily as to Poe, or some variants appear indifferent while others are evidently authorial. But Mabbott makes no distinction between probably authorial and conceivably authorial variants in his texts from Griswold, a hazardous policy in view of what we know about the desperate haste and typographical sloppiness with which the first two Griswold volumes were produced. (Mabbott does not review this phase of the printing history of Poe’s tales; he only names the release date of the Redfield edition of Works I and II, and remarks on misprints that entered some of the Griswold texts in reprintings subsequent to 1850). Once Mabbott rejects Griswold as copy-text because a substantive variant “does not carry Poe’s intended meaning” (“Mystification”); once (“How to Write a Blackwood Article”) because “Griswold’s few changes were not significant,” although they are as numerous and appear no less “significant” than variants in other Poe texts where he chooses Griswold. The Broadway Journal text of “Eleonora” is favored over Griswold because Mabbott regards the variant “waking/awaking” as a “misprint.” Substantive changes in Griswold’s “Byron and Miss Chaworth” that “merely . . . fit the piece into a book, in which the engraving itself was not to be reproduced” lead Mabbott to prefer the Columbian Magazine version (see also “Mellonta Tauta”), although in a parallel instance, “The Balloon-Hoax,” Mabbott elects the adjusted Griswold book version rather than the original newspaper printing. In “Some Words with a Mummy,” oddly enough, Mabbott chooses Broadway Journa1 as copy-text but sees as “probably auctorial” a substantive variant in Griswold, which he adopts as an emendation. To sum up, Mabbott’s identifications of Griswold’s substantive variants as authorial or nonauthorial are whimsical and arbitrary; and while these judgments usually determine or rationalize his copy-text choices, no consistent policy can be inferred from his practice.

My disagreement with Griswold as copy-text is not mitigated by Mabbott’s conviction (III, 1400 n.) that the literary executor would have had no malicious motive for distorting [page 44:] the texts of Poe’s imaginative works. Rather, it is grounded on a theory of copy-text that makes suspect the variant readings of revised reprints and requires that any such readings pass exacting scrutiny before being admitted as authorial. Surely the editor must often rely on his own judgment to reconstruct authorial intention in the absence of unequivocally authorial documents. When Mabbott acknowledges, however, that changes in the final paragraph of “Landor’s Cottage” might have been made by Griswold, and adds, in defense of his copy-text choice, that if this were so “I think he [Griswold] was performing his proper function,” Mabbott seems to me to abdicate his own editorial responsibility. By the same token, Poe’s acquiescence to changes imposed on his copy by magazine editors (when the author’s intentions survive for inspection in printer’s-copy manuscripts) fails to exempt the scholarly editor from the obligation to recover and respect those intentions. Mabbott’s headnotes to “‘Thou Art the Man’” and “Ragged Mountains” argue, on the contrary, that acquiescence constitutes intention. I am not convinced.

Textual Documentation and Emendation. Illustratively for one tale, “Ligeia,” Mabbott supplies a full sight collation of substantives and accidentals covering all relevant versions of the text. The apparatus for the remaining contents of Tales and Sketches includes a full collation of substantives and a selective collation of accidentals, “only such . . . as seem of any significance” (II, xxx). Unrecorded accidental variants are punctuation features (except in the Lorimer Graham tales), spelling (except for “typographical errors”), paragraphing, and hyphenation (except where hyphenation in a manuscript varies from a printed copy-text reading). Where holographs survive, Mabbon records the alterations Poe effected while penning his fair copy. Added to the record of manuscript alterations for “The System of Doctor Tarr and Professor Fether” is a report of autograph changes on the manuscript made by an editorial hand at Graham’s, of which more later. If optical-machine collation by means of the Hinman Collator or the Lindstrom Comparator was performed to ascertain the integrity of printed texts, no acknowledgment of the fact appears in these volumes. Small, relatively unobtrusive superscribed letters in the tale texts are keyed to the variants and alterations, which are printed at the bottom of the page.

Superscribed key-letters and notation at the foot of the page are also used for the record of emendations; emendations are thus difficult to isolate for the purpose of studying Mabbott’s treatment of the text. The editor announces a conservative emendation policy, “extreme respect for the text” (II, xxx), though a large class of scholarly readers will dispute the text Mabbott chooses so to honor. Two classes of silent emendation or normalization are acknowledged: the deletion of printer’s dashes filling out lines to the right-hand margin, and the regularization of hyphenations (presumably, compounds that might or might not be hyphenated), “according to the form apparently favored by Poe” (II, xxx)). We are not informed of the ways in which the apparent authorial preference is ascertained. This normalization policy precludes a record of resolved line-end hyphenation cruxes; thus, the forms of compounds in both mid-line and line-end position in Mabbott’s copy-texts cannot be recovered from the documentation. A few other [column 2:] classes of silent normalization are announced in the textual headnotes to individual tales. In “Why the Little Frenchman . . . ,” for example, the editor regularizes the placement of apostrophes in contractions. The remaining emendations are individually recorded. In the “Plan” Professor Mabbott classifies the kinds of emendation performed on the text: “French. Verbally Poe’s French is allowed to stand, but errors in accents and spelling are corrected — from other texts, if possible; if not, editorially. . . . Greek. Errors in spelling are corrected, but accents are used only if they appear in the original. Punctuation. In some texts emendations in punctuation seem required. Actual errors are corrected, generally from first printings, but editorially if necessary” ( II, xxxi) .

Mabbott’s actual emendations disclose criteria which could not be anticipated from his statement of policy. Among the “errors” of punctuation that seem to demand correction by the editor are commas setting off long subject phrases from their verbs. From among dozens, perhaps hundreds, in Tales and Sketches, I offer the following example in “The Imp of the Perverse”: “and thus the desire to be well, is excited simultaneously with its development.” Authorial habits and printshop criteria in Poe’s time allowed for such commas, and did not firmly dictate the use or the number of commas in connection with restrictive and nonrestrictive phrases (for example, “no man who at some period, has not been tormented,” likewise corrected on the same page of the same tale).

Mabbott imposes, then, modern punctuation standards on such passages, even in the absence of syntactical ambiguity. To be sure, most such “corrections” enjoy the precedent of pre-copy-text printed readings, and some are based on surviving Poe manuscripts; but Mabbott’s copy-text policy has wedded him to respecting the accidentals of revised reprints (rather than the accidentals in the forms closest to Poe’s hand), and his emendation to acceptable modern pointing smacks of the school-marm. A precisian impulse is also manifested in Mabbott’s consistent emendation of “Berenice” to “Berenice” because “In Poe’s day Berenice was pronounced as four syllables, and rhyming with ‘very spicy.’” Certain other accidentals, demonstrably in error and demonstrably authorial, are allowed to stand, as “Fitche” (for “Fichte”) in the first version of “Morella.” “Retzch,” however, is emended editorially to “Retzsch” (“The Man of the Crowd”). The apparent anomaly is even more strikingly displayed in Mabbott’s treatment of “Priestly,” which he thrice emends editorially (II, 180, 703; III, 1268) and once leaves unemended (11,176). In “Bon-Bon” he supplies a missing accent in “Medoc”; in “The Cask of Amontillado” the unaccented form stands unchanged. Mabbott recognizes the need to emend four place-names in “A Descent into the Maelstrom”; he corrects a German title in “Marie Roget,” a Latin title in “Usher,” and another in “William Wilson”; he emends “Brobdignag” to “Brobdingnag” in “Diddling” (although his endnote reports that Poe’s form was also used by Pope, Southey, and Carlyle); he corrects “gewohulich” to “gewohnlich” and “billetts-doux” to “billets-doux” (III, 723; II, 64). On the other hand, he accepts “overzezet” without emendation despite his belief that it represents a printer’s error for “overgazet” (III, 1115). The spurious name “Hermanus Pictorius” in a “Lion-izing” list Mabbott explains in an endnote as probably [page 45:] caused by the erroneous omission of a comma: (Paulus) Herrnannus and (Georg) Pictorius. Professor Mabbott’s exhaustive learning illuminates the crux, but does not issue in an emendation. We have, in brief, an inconsistent policy of emendation, which results in certain needed changes, certain unnecessary changes, and certain features left unchanged that deserve emendation. I exclude from this generalization the misspelling in “a half sheet of course foolscap” (“Autography,” II, 274) and the absent close-quotation mark in “The Spectacles” (III, 911, line 1), which I noticed in passing and assume were inadvertently overlooked by the editor or the proofreaders. The second follows a defect in the copy-text, Griswold, and requires emendation.

Repeatedly, this edition disappoints the textual critic, as it may disappoint many critics without specific textual interests and training. As I compared the recorded variants to the text readings from revised-reprint copy-texts, I often found the variants distinctly superior to the copy-text readings, though they had been rejected as emendations out of a mistaken “extreme respect for the text.” Numerous cases in point occur in “Why the Little Frenchman . . . ,” a tale wholly in Irish dialect and whose extant texts are Tales of the Grotesque and Arabesque, Broadway Journal, and Griswold’s Works. The story posed massive problems for typographers, but in the Broadway Journal version, under Poe’s close supervision, the dialect spellings were made reasonably compatible with one another and with Sir Pathrick O’Grandison’s supposed pronunciation. Griswold’s typesetters, working at top speed, imposed conventional spellings on many of Poe’s dialectal forms, as “acquaintance” for “acquintance,” “himself” for “himsilf,” “reverence” for “riverence,” “off” for “aff,” “just” for “jist,” and “complete” for “complete,” introducing, in the process, a good many inconsistencies. Yet Griswold is chosen as copy-text and the Griswold forms are left unemended. In “The Premature Burial” a pre-copy-text reading, “the clinging of the death garments,” is surely preferable to Griswold’s “the dinging to the death garments”; and in “The Balloon-Hoax,” pre-copy-text “this phenomenon” has stronger claims than Griswold’s “this phenomena.” I restrict my illustration of rejected superior substantives to these two examples; a longer list would be superfluous in view of my disagreement with the copy-text choices. I must add, however, that the most distressing consequences of Mabbott’s fidelity to poor copy-texts take place in “Tarr and Fether” and “‘Thou Art the Man,’” where the surviving manuscripts bear editorial revisions for Graham’s and Godey’s in a non-authorial hand. These revisions, faithfully reported among the textual variants, accommodate Poe’s imagination to the requirements of “family reading.” The bowdlerizations include “old cock” to “old fellow” in “‘Thou Art the Man’” and a multitude of more extensive changes in “Tarr and Fether,” among them the deletion of “my God.” Because Poe did not, or could not, restore the original readings (his manuscripts were probably not returned) in the clippings from which Griswold’s texts presumably derive, Mabbon concludes that the expurgated magazine and Griswold forms carry the author’s sanction and express his “latest intentions.”

The textual headnote to “Three Sundays in a Week,” when compared to the record of variants, illustrates the sort of casual reasoning in matters of copy-text choice that [column 2:] besets the Mabbott edition. It reads in part, “The text of Works [Griswold] . . . is followed with slight corrections from the first form [Saturday Evening Post] . . . . The Broadway Journal version . . . differs verbally from [Griswold] only in having more typographical errors.” But the collation indicates only one substantive variant due to a typo, “fist/first,” with the error occurring in Griswold, not Broadway Journal. Overlooked in the headnote but listed among the variants is a substantive change, “that/which,” not attributable to typographical error, though it may reflect an editor’s sophistication or a typesetter’s carelessness.

Sampling of a few pages of “The Spectades” leads me to conclude that Mabbott s record of substantive variants among relevant forms of the text is unusually accurate. With works so often reprinted and revised as Poe’s, precise sight collation is a heroic feat, the praise for which no one should withhold. There are, to be sure, occasional slips and ghosts among the recorded variants and emendations, but infallibility is not to be expected of even the most scrupulous worker. These minor defects can be corrected in subsequent printings.

Contents and Arrangement. The Mabbott edition contains nine items that did not appear in Harrison’s Complete Works of 1902. Of these, one is indisputably Poe’s: the unfinished manuscript tale, “[The Light-House].” The remaining eight, mainly short unsigned pieces from magazines like the Public Ledger and Alexander’s Weekly Messenger, but including another piece in Poe’s autograph, “A Reviewer Reviewed. By Walter G. Bowen,” are more or less debatable. With Mabbott’s reasoning in attributing one or another to Poe individual scholars may disagree; yet the editor is right to risk erring on the side of inclusiveness rather than the contrary. Mabbott also prints in Tales and Sketches various pieces which have formerly been gathered under headings other than fiction (for instance, “Autography,” the “Marginalia” preface) but which contain at least a modicum of factual distortion. With these inclusions, the canon of Poe’s imaginative short prose is arranged chronologically according to the approximate date of composition. Mabbott infers composition date, as a rule, from the date of first publication, ascertained for every item except “Why the Little Frenchman . . . .” Some specifics of Mabbott’s account of the Folio Club project will not find favor with those scholars who accept Alexander Hammond’s deductions on the subject; the most dramatic differences involve Mabbott’s omission of “King Pest” (first published in 1835) and “Diddling” (published in 1843) from the eleven-story 1833 design, and his inclusion of “Shadow” and “A Tale of Jerusalem.”

During a half century of Poe researches Professor Mabbott examined “all the printed originals described, and every manuscript known to be extant” (II, xxix). Some of these materials are no longer available for study; the unique Maryland Historical Society file of the Dollar Newspaper, 1843-1845, for example, is reported “missing” by the Librarian (III, 922). Therefore it is earnestly to be hoped that Mabbott’s collation records, transcripts, and photocopies of rare items will be carefully preserved with a view to future use by textual scholars. For the work of editing Poe’s short fiction is not over. The publication of Tales and Sketches should have been the most important textual development [page 46:] in Poe studies since the Harrison edition seventy-six years ago; but in some fundamental respects, all turning on copy-text philosophy, it marks a regression from Harrison and from Quinn and O’Neill (1946). Mabbott’s was an arduous, a single-minded, and a superlatively honorable effort, yielding fringe benefits of immense value to scholars and critics. But it has not delivered the texts we need. It has not given us what Professor Mabbott himself reverentially called “the Poe.”

Joseph J. Moldenhauer, University of Texas, Austin


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