Edgar Allan Poe — “The Philosophy of Composition”


Reading and Reference Texts:

Reading copy:

  • “The Philosophy of Composition” — reading copy


Historical Texts:

Manuscripts and Authorized Printings:

  • Text-01 — “The Philosophy of Composition” — 1846, no original manuscript or fragments are known to exist (but this version is presumably recorded in Text-02)
  • Text-02 — “The Philosophy of Composition” — April 1846 — Graham's (For Griswold's 1850 reprinting of this text, see the entry below, under reprints.)



  • The Philosophy of Composition” — 1850 — Works — Griswold reprints Text-02
  • “[The Philosophy of Composition]” — February 16, 1850 — New England Washingtonian, Boston, MA  (reprints 6 paragraphs)
  • “The Philosophy of Composition” — September 21, 1850 — The New York Tribune
  • “The Philosophy of Composition” — 1852 — Tales of Mystery and Imagination and Humour; and Poems, London: Henry Vizetelly (An undated edition appears about the same time, published by Charles H. Clark and Samuel Orchart Beeton, and their name appears as publisher for the second series), second series pp. 121-139 (with no woodcut illustrations)
  • The Philosophy of Composition” — 1875 — The Works of Edgar Allan Poe, ed. J. H. Ingram, Edinburgh, Adam and Charles Black (3:266-278)
  • “The Philosophy of Composition” — 1888 — The Complete Poetical Works and Essays on Poetry of Edgar Allan Poe, ed. John H. Ingram, London and New York: Frederick Warne & Co. (pp. 175-187)
  • “The Philosophy of Composition” — 1901 — World's Greatest Literature: Essays of American Essayists, with an introduction by Chauncy C. Starkweather, New York: P. F. Collier & Son (pp. 255-266, with introductory information appearing on pp. 253-254) (This essay is the only item by Poe in this collection)


Scholarly and Noteworthy Reprints:

  • The Philosophy of Composition” — 1895 — The Works of Edgar Allan Poe, vol. 6: Literary Criticism, eds. E. C. Stedman and G. E. Woodberry, Chicago: Stone and Kimball (6:31-46, and 6:323)
  • The Philosophy of Composition” — 1902 — The Complete Works of Edgar Allan Poe, ed. J. A. Harrison, New York: T. Y. Crowell (14:193-208)
  • “The Philosophy of Composition” — 1909 — Selections from the Critical Writings of Edgar Allan Poe, ed. Frederick C. Prescott, New York: Henry Holt (pp. 150-166 and 334-337)
  • The Philosophy of Composition” — 1917 — The Poems of Edgar Allan Poe, ed. K. Campbell, New York: Ginn and Co. (pp. 318-328)
  • “The Philosophy of Composition” — 1984 — Edgar Allan Poe: Essays and Reviews, ed. G. R. Thompson, New York: Library of America (pp. 13-25)
  • The Philosophy of Composition” — 2009 — Edgar Allan Poe: Critical Theory, Stuart and Susan F. Levine, eds., Chicago: University of Illinois Press (pp. 55-76)


Comparative and Study Texts:

Instream Comparative and Study Texts:


Associated Material and Special Versions:

Miscellaneous Texts and Related Items:

  • “La génèse d‘un poème” — (French translation by Charles Baudelaire)
    • “Méthode de composition” — April 20, 1859 — Revue française
    • “La génèse d‘un poème” — 1865 — Histoires grotesques et sérieuses, Paris: Michel Lévy frères
  • “Die Philosophie dichterischen Schaffens” — 1862 — Lieder und Balladenbuch amerikanischer und englischer Dichter der Gegenwart, Hamburg: Hoffman and Campe, pp. 30-47 (German translation by Adolf Strodtmann, noted by Ingram, The Raven, with Literary and Historical Commentary, London: George Redway, 1885, p. 72. Additional details provided to the Poe Society by Ton Fafianie, in an e-mail dated October 11, 2018)
  • La philosophie de composition” — 1889 — Poésies complétes de Edgar Allan Poe, Paris: Camille Dalou  (French translation by Gabriel Mourey)
  • “The Philosophy of Composition” — 1923 — Representative English Essays, New York: Harper & Brothers (selected and arranged by Warner Taylor) (This is the only Poe essay in the book. It is included in a chapter called “Essays on the Art of Writing.”)
  • “[The Philosophy of Composition]” — 1926 — Trois Manifestes, Paris: Simon Kra (French translation by René Lalou)
  • “The Philosophy of Composition” — 2007 — Audio book (unabridged), read by Chris Aruffo (part of a 5-CD set)



  • Arrojo, Rosemary, “Literature as Fetishism: Some Consequences for a Theory of Translation,” Meta: Joural des traaducteurs/Translators’ Journal, June 1996, 41:208-216
  • Bonessio di Terzet, Ettore, “Introduzione,” in La filosofia della composizione, by Edgar Allan Poe, Milan: Guerrini e Associati, 1995, pp. 11-21
  • Brown, Arthur A., ‘A Man Who Dies’: Poe, James, Faulkner and the Narrative Function of Death, PhD disseration, University of California, Davis, 1995
  • Eddings, Dennis W., “Mad Ravings or Sound Thinking? ‘The Philosophy of Composition’ and Poe's Parodic Raven,” Edgar Allan Poe: Beyond Gothicism, ed. James M. Hutchisson, Newark: University of Delaware Press, 2011, pp. 187-200.
  • 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.
  • Mabbott, Thomas Ollive, ed., The Collected Works of Edgar Allan Poe (Vols 2-3 Tales and Sketches), Cambridge, Mass.: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1978.
  • Person, Leland S., Jr., “Poe's Composition of Philosophy: Reading and Writing ‘The Raven’,” Arizona Quarterly, vol. 46, no. 3, Fall 1990 pp. 1-15.
  • Wilson, James Southall, “Poe's Philosophy of Composition,” North American Review, Dec., 1926, 223:675-684.


[S:0 - JAS] - Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - Works - Essays - The Philosophy of Composition