Edgar Allan Poe: A Critical Biography

By Arthur Hobson Quinn | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XI
Philadelphia--The Tales of the Grotesque and Arabesque

It was probably in February, 1837, that Poe took Mrs. Clemm and Virginia to New York. Although Poe's attempt to establish himself in New York was not successful, it was natural that he should seek that city. From Richmond with its 20,000 inhabitants to New York with nearly 300,000, an ambitious writer could easily justify his hope for a wider opportunity. He had some prospect of employment on the New York Review, but apart from one extensive criticism, that of J. L. Stephens ' Incidents of Travel in Egypt, Arabia and the Holy Land, in which he depended on Professor Charles Anthon, of Columbia College, for rather minute textual criticism in Hebrew, he seems not to have printed anything in the Review.

During the first few months in New York, Poe may have decided to take Harpers' advice and write a long story. Much of the Narrative of A. Gordon Pym must have been written in Richmond, but he had discontinued its publication after two installments had appeared in the Messenger. It was copyrighted by Harpers in June, 1837, but was not published until July, 1838. The title page1 indicates the hope of the author and publishers that horrors would sell. But the book was not generally popular even though it was reprinted in England in the same year and ran through more than one edition there.

____________________
1
The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym, of Nantucket; comprising the Details of a Mutiny and Atrocious Butchery on board the American Brig Grampus, on her Way to the South Seas in the Month of June, 1827.--With an Account of the Recapture of the Vessel by the Survivors; their Shipwreck, and subsequent Horrible Sufferings from Famine; their Deliverance by means of the British Schooner Jane Guy; the brief Cruise of this latter Vessel in the Antarctic Ocean; her Capture, and the Massacre of her Crew among a Group of Islands in the 84th parallel of Southern latitude; together with the incredible Adventures and Discoveries still farther South, to which that distressing Calamity gave rise. New York: Harper ­ Brothers, 1838.

-263-

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