The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket (1838) is the only complete novel written by American writer Edgar Allan Poe. The work relates the tale of the young Arthur Gordon Pym, who stows away aboard a whaling ship called the Grampus. Various adventures and misadventures befall Pym, including shipwreck, mutiny, and cannibalism, before he is saved by the crew of the Jane Guy. Aboard this vessel, Pym and a sailor named Dirk Peters continue their adventures farther south. Docking on land, they encounter hostile black-skinned natives before escaping back to the ocean. The novel ends abruptly as Pym and Peters continue toward the South Pole.
The story starts out as a fairly conventional adventure at sea, but it becomes increasingly strange and hard to classify. Poe, who intended to present a realistic story, was inspired by several real-life accounts of sea voyages, and drew heavily from Jeremiah N. Reynolds and referenced the Hollow Earth theory. He also drew from his own experiences at sea. Analyses of the novel often focus on the potential autobiographical elements as well as its portrayal of race and the symbolism in the final lines of the work.
Difficulty in finding literary success early in his short story-writing career inspired Poe to pursue writing a longer work. A few serialized installments of The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket were first published in the Southern Literary Messenger, though never completed. The full novel was published in July 1838 in two volumes. Some critics responded negatively to the work for being too gruesome and for cribbing heavily from other works, while others praised its exciting adventures. Poe himself later called it "a very silly book". In the years since its publication, The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket became an influential work, notably for Herman Melville and Jules Verne.
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|Series:||World's Classics Deluxe Edition , #54|
|Edition description:||From the Guardian's the 100 Greatest Novels of All Time List ed.|
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Table of ContentsAcknowledgements List of Illustrations Introduction Edgar Allan Poe: A Brief Chronology A Note on the Text
The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket
Appendix A: Sources for the Novel
- From R. Thomas, Remarkable Shipwrecks, A Collection of Interesting Accounts of Naval Disasters (1813)
- From John Cleves Symmes, Symzonia: A Voyage of Discovery by Captain Adam Seaborn (1820)
- From [James McBride], Symmes’s Theory of the Concentric Spheres (1826)
- From Jane Porter, Sir Edward Seaward’s Narrative of His Shipwreck (1831)
- From Archibald Duncan, The Mariner’s Chronicle (1804–05)
- From Jeremiah N. Reynolds, The Voyage of the Potomac (1834)
Appendix B: Contemporary Reviews
- From The New-Yorker (1 August 1838)
- From The New-York Mirror (11 August 1838)
- From Albion (18 August 1838)
- From Knickerbocker Magazine (August 1838)
- From Burton’s Gentleman’s Magazine (September 1838)
- From Family Magazine (1838)
- From The Torch (13 October 1838)
- From The Spectator (27 October 1838)
- From The Monthly Review (October 1838)
Appendix C: Other Writers’ Responses to Pym
- From Herman Melville, Moby-Dick (1851) and Israel Potter:His Fifty Years of Exile (1855)
- From “The Mast-Head,” Chapter 35 of Moby-Dick
- From “The Whiteness of the Whale,” Chapter 42 of Moby-Dick
- From “Chapter 12. Israel Returns to the Squire’s AbodeHis Adventures There,” in Israel Potter: His Fifty Years of Exile
- From Charles Baudelaire, Les Fleurs du mal (1857)
- “La Géante”
- “A Voyage to Cythera”
- From Jules Verne, Le Sphinx des glaces (1897)
- From Henry James, The Golden Bowl (1904)