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” — 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
  • 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.
  • 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