Text: Burton R. Pollin, “Introduction for Literary Small Talk,” The Collected Writings of Edgar Allan PoeVol. II: The Brevities (1985), pp. xxv-xxvi (This material is protected by copyright)


[page xxv, continued:]


The two papers that comprise Literary Small Talk appeared in the Baltimore Museum as follows: January 1839, 2.60-61; February 1839, 2.133-34. The four separate articles of the first installments are separated by double spaces in the journal; in the second, the three articles are separated by short (two-pica) rules. They were not reprinted until James Harrison included them in his 1902 Works (14.90-94).

Poe wrote them for the American Museum of Literature and the Arts, founded in 9/1838 by Nathan Covington Brooks (1809-1898), a Baltimore clergyman, editor, poet, and secondary school educator who had become his good friend at this time (see his sketch, H 15.225). Poe contributed “Ligeia” to the first number, the “Blackwood’s Article” tale to the 11/1838 issue and, after the Literary Small Talk, the “Haunted Palace” to that of 4/1839, shortly before the 6/1839 demise of the magazine. In his annotation of Poe’s letter to Brooks of 9/4/1838 (Letters, 111-13) Ostrom points out the pay of eighty cents a page for “Ligeia” (presumably therefore $3.20 for the Literary Small Talk). This article of the Brevities, one observes, in its Byzantine allusion, was essential to the fine poem, “The Haunted Palace,” before its insertion in “Usher.” It emanated from his browsing at the time in the works of John Wolcot and in Gibbon’s Decline and Fall (see Literary Small Talk 2a). In his Marginalia Introduction (paragraph 4) Poe is perhaps describing this very article as “the chance and desultory comments of literary chit-chat” — prelude to the larger series. His interest in Gibbon would continue to [page xxvi:] be displayed (MM 29, 109e); likewise in the works of Bulwer (Literary Small Talk 4), which figure so prominently throughout the Brevities. The five printing errors (if they are not transcription errors of Poe) might be set against Poe’s initial request for proof sheets of his articles (Letters 112) — probably ignored by Brooks, the struggling young editor of the journal.







[S:0 - BRP2B, 1985] - Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - Editions - The Collected Writings of Edgar Allan Poe (B. R. Pollin) (Introduction for Literary Small Talk)