Text: E. C. Stedman and G. E. Woodberry, “Preface to the Critical and Miscellaneous Papers,” The Works of Edgar Allan PoeVol. VI: Literary Criticism I (1895), 6:v-vi


[page v:]




THE critical and miscellaneous papers of Poe, as editor and contributor, were voluminous, and, in large portions, of only contemporary and ephemeral interest. The labor of selecting from the mass of these writings is, however, simplified by the fact that Poe himself edited it in effect . He was accustomed to eliminate from these papers as he went along, preserving the more original and general reflections, and such special criticism as related to writers of distinction or of contemporary note, and suppressing the detail of the current book and the passing author; and these selected parts he re-wrote and used repeatedly both in lectures and in new reviews. In this way he built up his lectures on the “Poetic Principle” and the “Poets of America;” and it was of such extracts from his criticism of the authors of the country, doubtless, that he intended to make his projected and announced, but never completed, work, the “Authors of America in Prose and Verse.” Independently of a few miscellanies, written once for all and [page vi:] never re-handled, Poe had by this method practically reduced his writings of this sort to four groups: first, the theoretical essays upon poetry and versification; second, notices of authors of established reputation; third, notices of a crowd of minor authors representing the literary character of the times in general; fourth, the paragraphs rescued from the most transitory reviews and gathered by him under the name of “Marginalia.” Griswold, when he came to edit, had thus, ready to his hand, a sufficient representation of Poe’s entire critical work; and he added, out of the material which Poe had himself neglected, only a few short reviews of the earlier period, and these he included in the “Marginalia.” The Editors have added little that Griswold overlooked, and have omitted some passages in the “Marginalia,” as is explained in the Notes. They have omitted also the paper entitled “Pinakidia,” which was not original, but consisted of extracts from books read by Poe; and, except in one or two instances which serve for illustration, they have not collected the plate-articles, and other brief miscellanies of a similar nature not upon literary topics. The entire body of this prose has been rearranged, and the text has been collated with the original issues by Poe, and corrected at first hand in respect to the quotations, book-titles, and expressions in foreign languages. The text of “Eureka” is printed from Poe’s copy, 1848, much revised by marginal [page vii:] corrections in his hand; for the use of this volume they desire to express their thanks to William Evarts Benjamin, Esq., who placed it at their disposal. For further details in respect to this portion of Poe’s works, the reader is referred to the Notes at the end of each volume.


NEW YORK, May 5, 1895.







[S:0 - SW94, 1895] - Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - Works - General Preface (E. C. Stedman and G. E. Woodberry, 1895)