Text: Edgar Allan Poe (ed. J. A. Harrison), “Review of Mahmoud,” The Complete Works of Edgar Allan PoeVol. VIII: Literary Criticism - part 01 (1902), pp. 256-257


[page 256:]


[Southern Literary Messenger, March, 1836.]

OF this book — its parentage or birth-place — we know nothing beyond the scanty and equivocal information derivable from the title-page, and from the brief Advertisement prefixed to the narrative itself. From the title-page we learn, or rather we do not learn that Harper and Brothers are the publishers — for although we are informed, in so many direct words that such is the fact, still we are taught by experience that, in the bookselling vocabulary of the day, the word published has too expansive, too variable, and altogether too convenient a meaning to be worthy of very serious attention. The volumes before us are, we imagine, (although really without any good reason for so imagining,) a reprint from a London publication. It is quite possible, however, that the work is by an American writer, and now, as it professes to be, for the first time actually published. From the Advertisement we understand that the book is a combination of facts derived from private sources; or from personal observation. We are told that “with the exception of a few of the inferior characters, and the trifling accessories necessary to blend the materials, and impart a unity to the rather complex web of the narrative, the whole may be relied upon as perfectly true.”

Be this as it may, we should have read “Mahmoud” with far greater pleasure had we never seen the Anastasius of Mr. Hope. That most excellent and vivid, (although somewhat immoral) series of Turkish paintings [page 257:] is still nearly as fresh within our memory as in the days of perusal. The work left nothing farther to be expected, or even to be desired, in rich, bold, vigorous, and accurate delineation of the scenery, characters, manners, and peculiarities of the region to which its pages were devoted. Nothing less than the consciousness of superior power could have justified any one in treading in the steps of Mr. Hope. And, certainly, nothing at all, under any circumstances whatsoever, could have justified a direct and palpable copy of Anastasius. Yet Mahmoud is no better.

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[S:1 - JAHCW, 1902] - Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - Editions - The Complete Works of Edgar Allan Poe (J. A. Harrison) (Review of Mahmoud)