Edgar Allan Poe — “X-ing a Paragrab”





  • (narrator) - Under development.


Location - Under development.

Date - Under development.


Under development. This slight, comical story may be surprising to readers accustomed only to his dark tales of terror and morbid psychology. It is his last published tale. A “printer's devil” was the designation given to the person, often a young boy in these days of child labor, who performed the menial tasks involved with the printing trade, usually as a kind of apprenticeship. The origin of the term is obscure. In giving Bob a lisp, Poe is apparently attempting to emphasize his youthfulness. Other dialectic touches reveal Bob's lack of formal education.


Reading and Reference Texts:

Reading copy:

  • “X-ing a Paragrab” — reading copy


Historical Texts:

Manuscripts and Authorized Printings:

  • Text-01 — “X-ing a Paragrab” — early 1849 — (There are no known draft manuscripts or scratch notes reflecting the original effort of composition.)
  • Text-02 — “X-ing a Paragrab” — 1849
    • Text-02a — “X-ing a Paragrab” — about February 1849, no original manuscript or fragments are known to exist (but this version is presumably recorded in Text-02) — (Mabbott speculates that this “story was probably written not long before publication,” 3:1368. In the Flag of Our Union for May 5, 1849 appears the following note: “ ‘X-ing a Paragraph’ [[sic]] a capital prose sketch, by our regular contributor, EDGAR A. POE, [[shall appear]] in our next number” p. 3, col. 1. Poe, then, had sent it before the beginning of May. Poe's letter of about March 1, 1849 to Annie Richmond is undated but mentions that “The Flag has 2 of my tales now — Hop-Frog & another called ‘X-ing a Paragrab’: — guess what that is about if you can!” The same letter also mentions “A Valentine” in a context which suggests that it dates from about March 1.)
    • Text-02b — “X-ing a Paragrab” — May 12, 1849 — Flag of Our Union — (Mabbott text A) (For the reuse of this text in a 1849 reprint of Ingraham's novel The Spanish Galleon, see the entry below, under reprints. For Griswold's 1856 reprinting of this text, see the entry below, under reprints.)



  • X-ing a Paragrab” — 1849 — accompanying J. H. Ingraham's novel The Spanish Galleon (and several stories from  the Flag of Our Union) — (Mabbott text B) (This text is not just a reprint from the Flag of Our Union, but actually reuses the same type from the newspaper.)
  • X-ing a Paragrab” — 1856 — WORKS — Griswold merely reprints Text-02, with some minor editorial corrections and changes, but missing others, plus some new typographical errors (Mabbott text C — This is Mabbott's copy-text)
  • “X-ing a Paragrab” — 1867 — Prose Tales of Edgar Allan Poe, second series (New York: W. J. Widdleton), pp. 437-443 (This collection is extracted from the 1850-1856 edition of Poe's Works. It was reprinted several times.)
  • X-ing a Paragrab” — 1874 — Works of Edgar A. Poe, edited by J. H. Ingram, vol. 2, pp. 490-496 (This collection was subsequently reprinted in various forms)
  • “X-ing a Paragrab” — August 7, 1875 — Washington Standard (Olympia, WA), vol. XV, no. 37, p. 1 (printed without Poe's name as author)
  • “A Printshop Story by Edgar Allen [[Allan]] Poe” — November 5, 1916 — American Printer and Lithographer (New York, NY), vol. 63, no. 9 (This reprint bears the following headnote: “As it is not generally known that Poe wrote humorously, or attempted to do so, this story written almost three-quarters of a century ago will interest printers and publishers everywhere.”)
  • “X-ing a Paragrab” — 1927 — London: Lanston Monotype Corporation Ltd (with the author acknowledged as “Edgar Allen [[Allan]] Poe”) (this paperbound pamphlet is another example of the continuing interest in the story among professional typesetters)


Scholarly and Noteworthy Reprints:

  • X-ing a Paragrab” — 1894-1895 — The Works of Edgar Allan Poe, vol. 4: Tales, ed. G. E. Woodberry and E. C. Stedman, Chicago: Stone and Kimball (4:225-233) (This collection was subsequently reprinted in various forms)
  • X-ing a Paragrab” — 1902 — The Complete Works of Edgar Allan Poe, vol. 6: Tales V, ed. J. A. Harrison, New York: T. Y. Crowell (6:229-237, and 6:296)
  • X-ing a Paragrab” — 1978 — The Collected Works of Edgar Allan Poe, vol. 3: Tales & Sketches II, ed. T. O. Mabbott, Cambridge: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press (3:1367-1376)
  • “X-ing a Paragrab” — 1984 — Edgar Allan Poe: Poetry and Tales, ed. Patrick F. Quinn (New York: Library of America), pp. 917-923


Comparative and Study Texts:

Instream Comparative and Study Texts:

  • X-ing a Paragrab” — Comparative Text (Flag of Our Union and WORKS)
  • X-ing a Paragrab” — Comparative Text (Flag of Our Union and WORKS) (with the use of quotation marks normalized)


Associated Material and Special Versions:

Miscellaneous Texts and Related Items:

  • “Un entrefilet aux X” — 1882 — Contes Grotesques par Edgar Poe, Paris: Paul Ollendorff  (French translation by Émile Hennequin)
  • “Mettre des X dans un paragraphe” — 1950 — Histories grotesques et sérieuse par Edgar Poe, Paris: Classiques Garnier  (French translation by Léon Lemonnier)



  • 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, 3:1367-1376
  • Perkins, Leroy and Joseph A. Dupras, “Mystery and Meaning in Poe's ‘X-ing a Paragrab’,” Studies in Short Fiction, 1990, 27:489-494
  • Sirvent, Michel, “Lettres volees: Metarepresentation et liogramme ches E. A. Poe et G. Perel,” Litterature, 1991, 83:12-30
  • 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 - X-ing a Paragrab