Edgar Allan Poe — “The Spectacles”





  • (narrator) - Under development.


Location - Under development.

Date - Under development.


Under development.


Reading and Reference Texts:

Reading copy:

  • “The Spectacles” — reading copy


Historical Texts:

Manuscripts and Authorized Printings:

  • Text-01 — “The Spectacles” — early 1844, no original manuscript or fragments are known to exist (but this version is presumably recorded in Text-02) (see also the surviving manuscript of the revised form, as Text-02)
  • Text-02 — about March 1844
    • Text-02a — before March 27, 1844 (speculated faircopy manuscript provided to the editors of the Dollar Newspaper for publication. This manuscript no longer exists, probably having been destroyed in the process of typesetting. The text is presumably reflected in Text-02b.) (The earliest reference to the story is its publication, and Poe's March 30, 1844 letter to J. R. Lowell, sending him a copy of the newspaper with the story. Poe mentions the tale again in his May 28, 1844 letter to J. R. Lowell, listing the story as one written since the biographical article about him from the Philadelphia Saturday Museum of February and March, 1843. Mabbott suggests possible sources from 1836-1838.) (Poe was still living in Philadelphia prior to April 1843, and would not necessarily had to mail the manuscript. Although it has not survived, and has not been described, it was likely to be a roll manuscript, like that for “The Gold-Bug.”)
    • Text-02b — “The Spectacles” — March 27, 1844 — Dollar Newspaper — (Mabbott text A)
  • Text-03 — “The Spectacles” — March or April 1844 — “Horne” manuscript — (Mabbott text B) (This manuscript was formerly in the collection of William Koester, and is curently in the Harry Ransom Center, University of Texas at Austin.)  (Poe may have written out a full new manuscript for two reasons. He might have done so because he wished to make so many small changes throughout the text, and marking the printed text would be confusing. Alternatively, he might have preferred not to draw attention to the fact that it was just recently printed in the Dollar Newspaper, particularly because he was asking Horne to seek out an English publisher. One might speculate that with so many revisions, Poe made a rough draft from which this manuscript was created as a fair copy, but the nature of most of the changes, while extensive, seem so incidental as to suggest spontaneity rather than careful planning or reworking, such that it is likely Poe simply made them as he went along — thus, no additional draft is presumed. Poe also did not implement the vast majority of these changes when reprinting the story in 1845, suggesting either that he no longer considered them useful or had not retained a copy of them. Horne did not find a publisher for the story, and he did not return the manuscript to Poe. This text, accordingly, was not printed during Poe's lifetime, and most of the changes were abortive, presumably because Poe did not retain a copy. Poe returned to the earlier text in printing the tale in the Broadway Journal, with relatively minor revisions.)
  • Text-04 — “The Spectacles” — 1844-1845
    • Text-04a — “The Spectacles” — 1844-1845 — (speculated copy of the Dollar Newspaper with revisions by Poe, probably in preparation for the reprinting in the Broadway Journal. This copy has not survived, but is presumably reflected in text-04b. Changes are minor enough that they might have been made in proof in setting the Broadway Journal text.)
    • Text-04b — “The Spectacles” — November 22, 1845 — Broadway Journal — (Mabbott text C) (For Griswold's 1850 reprinting of this text, see the entry below, under reprints.)



  • “The Spectacles” — May 3, 1845 — British reprint in Lloyd's Entertaining Journal
  • The Spectacles” — 1850 — WORKS — Griswold reprints Text-04b (Mabbott text D — This is Mabbott's copy-text)  (The differences are mostly in matters of spelling and accents, which are probably more editorial than authorial.)
  • “The Spectacles” — August 27, 1850 — Examiner (Richmond, VA)
  • “The Spectacles; or, Love at First Sight” — 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. 66-93 (with 2 woodcut illustrations). (Apparently, some British editor thought that the tale benefitted from the addition of a subtitle, although it appears only in the running page headers.)
  • “The Spectacles” — 1855 — Tales of Mystery and Imagination, Halifax: Milner and Sowerby, pp. 284-312
  • “The Spectacles” — 1867 — Prose Tales of Edgar Allan Poe, second series (New York: W. J. Widdleton), pp. 26-50 (This collection is extracted from the 1850-1856 edition of Poe's Works. It was reprinted several times.)
  • The Spectacles” — 1874 — Works of Edgar A. Poe, edited by J. H. Ingram (vol. II, pp. 234-260) (This collection was subsequently reprinted in various forms)


Scholarly and Noteworthy Reprints:

  • The Spectacles” — 1894-1895 — The Works of Edgar Allan Poe, vol. 3: Tales, ed. G. E. Woodberry and E. C. Stedman, Chicago: Stone and Kimball (3:256-288)
  • The Spectacles” — 1902 — The Complete Works of Edgar Allan Poe, vol. 5: Tales IV, ed. J. A. Harrison, New York: T. Y. Crowell (5:177-209, and 5:324-325)
  • The Spectacles” — 1978 — The Collected Works of Edgar Allan Poe, vol. 3: Tales & Sketches II, ed. T. O. Mabbott, Cambridge: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press (3:883-919)
  • “The Spectacles” — 1984 — Edgar Allan Poe: Poetry and Tales, ed. Patrick F. Quinn (New York: Library of America), pp. 618-642


Comparative and Study Texts:

Instream Comparative and Study Texts:


Associated Material and Special Versions:

Miscellaneous Texts and Related Items:

  • “Les lunettes” — 1862 — Contes inedts d‘Edgar Poe, Paris: J. Hetzel, pp. 165-209 (French translation by William L. Hughes)
  • “[The Spectacles]” — 1881 — Underliga historier (Stockholm)  (Swedish translation, noted by Anderson, p. 54)
  • “Les lunettes” — 1934 — Les Sphinx et autres contes bizarres par Edgar Poë, Paris: Galliard (French translation by Maurice Sachs)
  • “Les lunettes” — 1950 — Histories grotesques et sérieuse par Edgar Poe, Paris: Classiques Garnier  (French translation by Léon Lemonnier)



  • The Spectacles” — supposedly 1830 — source uncertain, claiming to have been published by Carey & Lea in Philadelphia. (This text was printed in Liberty magazine for September 24, 1938 and was reprinted as a pamphlet by Richard Gimbel in 1938. It is certainly a modern fake, see Savoye. The text appears to have been taken from a reprint of the story in Godey's Lady's Book for April 1836. The original pamphlet is in the American Antiquarian Society.)
  • The Spectacles” — supposedly 1842 — source uncertain, claiming to have been published by Carey & Lea in Philadelphia. (This item is currently in the Harry Ransom Center, University of Texas at Austin, which acknowledges it as certainly a modern fake, see Savoye. The text is identical to the other fake, noted above.)



  • Anderson, Carl L., Poe in Northlight: The Scandanavian Response to His Life and Work, Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1973.
  • Hayes, Kevin, Poe's ‘Spectacles’ and the Camera Lens, Baltimore: Edgar Allan Poe Society, 2007
  • 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.
  • Moldenhauer, Joseph, “Poe's ‘The Spectacles’: A New Text from Manuscript Edited, with Textual Commentary and Notes,” Studies in the American Renaissance, 1977, ed. Joel Myerson, Boston: Twayne, 1978, pp. 179-234.
  • Mooney, Stephen L., “The Comic in Poe's Fiction,” American Literature, January 1962, 33:433-441.
  • Pollin, Burton R., “ ‘The Spectacles’ of Poe — Sources and Significance,” American Literature, 1965, 37:187-190
  • Salzberg, Joel, “Preposition and Peaming in Poe's ‘The Specatcles’,” Poe Newsletter, June 1970, 3:21
  • Savoye, Jeffrey A., “Focusing on a Pair of False ‘Spectacles’,” Edgar Allan Poe Review, Spring 2009, vol. X, no. 1, pp. 98-102
  • Varner, Cornelia, “Notes on Poe's Use of Contemporary Materials in Certain of his Stories,” Journal of English and Germanic Philology, January 1933, 32:77-80.
  • Wyllie, John Cooke, “A List of the Texts of Poe's Tales,” Humanistic Studies in Honor of John Calvin Metcalf, Charlottesville: University of Virginia, 1941, pp. 322-338.


[S:0 - JAS] - Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - Works - Tales - The Spectacles