The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym. Of Nantucket.
London: Wiley and Putnam, 1838.
London: Wiley and Putnam, 1838. First U.K. edition. Bound in 20th-century brown morocco over marbled boards, top edge gilt, marbled endpapers. Minor scuffing to the spine and joints, affecting the titling, but binding holding well. Octavo (pages 195 x 120 mm), collating: [2, halftitle], [2, title] iv, 252; complete.
Poe’s only novel – an under-appreciated classic. "The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym" follows the dark adventures of a stowaway on board a New England whaling ship. Poe was drawn to the idea of writing a longer work because of the difficulty he was having sustaining a career with his short stories. Although Pym contains Poe’s trademark mastery of the uncanny, he was also inspired by a number of non-fictional contemporary travel accounts of the South Seas and areas near the Antarctic.
The novel’s reception was tepid, but it would later be recognized as a hidden masterpiece that exerted a strong influence on both American literature and the literature of the fantastic. Pym is thought to have helped inspire Melville’s Moby Dick – the works share some strong familiarities of theme and structure – as well as the author Jules Verne, who even wrote his own sequel to the work. In fact, the novel gained a great deal of respect abroad before American critics re-evaluated it. Baudelaire would translate it and Borges called it “Poe’s greatest work.” Lovecraft too was an admirer, and used many of its elements in his own story: At The Mountains of Madness. The work appears on The Guardian’s list of 100 Best Novels. (Item #5773)