The Literary Criticism of Edgar Allan Poe


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The Collections and Books:

Editions Authorized by Poe:

During his lifetime, Poe planned, but never published a collection of his literary notices. A posthumous collection, edited by Rufus Wilmot Griswold, incorporates a few of his reviews, taken from the material Poe had accumulated for “Literary America.” These collections are listed chronologically.

Later Collected Editions:

After Griswold’s death in 1857, there were several alternate attempts to collect Poe’s works, including some of the criticsm. The most important of these were collections edited by John H. Ingram, also in four volumes (initially published in 1874-1875), the ten-volume set edited by Edmund C. Stedman and George E. Woodberry (initially published in 1894-1895), and the seventeen-volume set edited by James A. Harrsion (published in 1902). (Although at least one of these editions bears the title of The Complete Works of Edgar Allan Poe, none of them are, in fact, actually complete. In some instances, they also contain works that have since been identified as not being by Poe.) Individual volumes of poems were generally selected from the larger collections.

  • The Works of Edgar Allan Poe, edited by John H. Ingram   (Edinburgh: Adam and Charles Black, 1874-1875 — The criticism is chiefly collected in volume 4)
  • The Works of Edgar Allan Poe, edited by Edmund C. Stedman and George E. Woodberry   (Chicago: Stone and Kimball, 1894-1895 — The criticism is collected in three parts, in volumes 6-8)
  • The Complete Works of Edgar Allan Poe, edited by James A. Harrison   (New York: T. Y. Crowell, 1902 — The criticism is collected in six volumes, volumes 8-13.)

Modern Scholarly Editions:

The most widely recognized scholarly edition of Poe’s criticism is that edited by Burton R. Pollin, continuing the series long planned by Thomas Ollive Mabbott (but interrupted by his death in 1968). This edition is thoroughly annotated, with introductory material, notes and variants. That series remained incomplete at the time of Pollin’s death in 2009.


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The Criticism:

Since most of the literary criticism of Poe’s era is unsigned, attribution is a complex and divisive issue. All items included here have been attributed to Poe at one time or another, but are subject to further analysis as our project proceeds. In general, uncertain attributions are noted by the presence of a question mark (“?”), with more question marks (“???”) being used to denote less certain items. A few doubtful items are included merely because they have not been disproven. Again, these marks are not definitive at this stage.

There are three access paths to the crticisms reproduced on this website. The first, is through the unpublished 1941 dissertation by William Doyle Hull on the Poe Canon of Literary Criticism. Hull discusses his assignment of reviews in the periodicals he examined. His choices have generally been accepted, especially for more obscure reviews that have received little attention, although various Poe scholars have taken differing views of specific items. There are links to the texts in his lists of works. (Works rejected as being by Poe are also provided so that readers can make their own assessment.) The second option is to follow the lists of Poe’s contributions to various periodicals. The third option is the present list, which organizes reviews by the author in question. (This final option is the most time consuming to produce, and is, at the moment, the least fully realized.)

These items are arranged alphabetically by the name of the tale. Within each name, the items are listed chronologically. A few tales were published by Poe under more than one name, or under a name assigned by later editors. These tales are listed under the name most commonly used.


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Related Material:


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Bibliography:

  • Edsall, Thomas, ed., The Poe Catalogue, Baltimore: The 19th Century Shop, 1992. (This catalogue includes a few reprints of material which are not noted elsewhere.)
  • Harrison, James A[lbert]., ed, The Complete Works of Edgar Allan Poe, 17 vols, New York: T. Crowell, 1902.
  • Heartman, Charles F. and James R. Canny, A Bibliography of First Printings of the Writings of Edgar Allan Poe, Hattiesburg, MS: The Book Farm, 1943. (The best overall bibliography of Poe, although it does contain errors and is somewhat outdated. The bibliographies on this website effectively subsume and greatly expand on this work.)
  • Hull, William Doyle, II, A Canon of the Critical Works of Edgar Allan Poe, With a Study of Poe as Editor and Reviewer, unpublished doctoral disseration for  University of Virginia, 1941.
  • Pollin, Burton R., ed., The Collected Writings of Edgar Allan Poe; Vols. III & IV - The Broadway Journal: Non-Fictional Prose, New York: Gordian Press, 1986; Vol. V - The Southern Literary Messenger: Non-Fictional Prose, New York: Gordian Press, 1997.
  • Thompson, G. Richard, ed., Essays and Reviews, New York: The Library of America, 1984. (A good basic collection.)
  • Vines, Lois D., ed., Poe Abroad: Influence, Reputation, Affinities, Iowa City: University of Iowa Press, 1999. (An extremely useful compendium of articles by various authors, divided by country or region.)
  • Woodberry, George E[dward]. and Stedman, Edmund Clarence, The Works of Edgar Allan Poe, 10 vols, Chicago, 1894-1895. (Reprinted in 1903 and 1914.)

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[S:1 - JAS] - Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - Works - The Literary Criticism of Edgar Allan Poe