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The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket (Penguin Classics) Paperback – June 1, 1999


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Product Details

  • Series: Penguin Classics
  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics; Penguin Classics edition (June 1, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140437487
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140437485
  • Product Dimensions: 7.7 x 5.1 x 0.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (35 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #435,105 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

“It is Poe’s greatest work.”—Jorge Luis Borges --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

From the Inside Flap

After reading an 1836 newspaper account of a shipwreck and its two survivors, Edgar Allan Poe penned his only novel, The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket, the story of a stowaway on a Nantucket whaleship who finds himself enmeshed in the dark side of life at sea: mutiny, cannibalism, savagery—even death. As Jeffrey Meyers writes in his Introduction: "[Poe] remains contemporary because he appeals to basic human feelings and expresses universal themes common to all men in all languages: dreams, love, loss; grief, mourning, alienation; terror, revenge, murder; insanity, disease, and death." Within the pages of this novel, we encounter nearly all of them.

This Modern Library Paperback Classic reprints the text of the original 1838 American edition. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.


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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
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The book is 200 pages and a fast and fun read.
Fitzgerald Fan
"The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket" is Poe's only novel - one I had for a long time hesitated to pick up.
J. Whelan
There is a good bit of adventure thrown in as well.
Kels

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

27 of 29 people found the following review helpful By Westley VINE VOICE on March 19, 2005
Format: Paperback
Unbelievably, Poe wrote a single novel - "The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket." The book was published in 1838 and is perhaps less nightmarish than the majority of Poe's writing. However, it's a rousing good sea-faring book. As is true of many novels of the period, the book is told in first person narrative and almost diary form. Arthur Gordon Pym is a young man who through a series of extraordinary events, finds himself a stowaway on a whaling ship. However, that's just the beginning of his adventures, as he finds himself repeatedly thrust into the most unbelievable of situations.

"Narrative" sometimes reads like a series of tall tales and requires a complete suspension of belief, but if you're able to do so, then it's a terrific story. I read most of the novel on a long train trip and it held my attention completely. I'm not normally a fan of "adventure" books, but "Narrative" is an exciting, brief read. Adults of all tastes are likely to enjoy this book as well as older youngsters who enjoy sea-faring stories and adventure. Finally, the introduction, by Richard Kopley, does a great job explaining the novel's subtext, which adds greatly to the reading experience.
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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Zack Davisson HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on December 29, 2000
Format: Paperback
This story, Poe's only novel, is an endurance test for both reader and characters. I believe it was originally serialized, and reads like a collection of incidents rather than a complete story. However, it is a captivating tale, astounding in it's detail and casual horror. Arthur Gordon Pym was born under an unlucky star. He survives in the most inconceivable circumstances, from a drifting, overturned hulk to the frozen waters of the Antarctic. Each page turned piles more horror in his path, described with a growing clinical distance. Pym himself becomes more desensitized to each incident, until he views the irrational with a casual curiosity. The language is beautifully detailed, and some feel this story is the inspiration for "Moby Dick."
Altogether, a delightfully disturbing story. One of the best I have read.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Katerina Canyon on July 4, 2001
Format: Paperback
Arthur Gordon Pym was a young man who had dreams of great adventure. He defied his family and stowed away on board a whaling ship. Doing this lead him into all sorts of exciting adventures. He confronted things like mutiny, near starvation, and altercations with different cultures.
I'd have to say that this story is "classic Poe". If you are a fan of Poe's short stories, you'll definitely like this book. I only had a few problems with the story. There were times that the story dragged, but this is far outweighed by the times that the story was very exciting, and I couldn't put the book down. I won't go into the ending, but it left me unsettled.
I found that the explanatory notes were very helpful. I'm not a great scholar on any level, nor will I ever claim to be. The explanatory notes were very simple to understand, and it helped me understand portions of the story that caused confusion, particularly the end.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Eugene G. Barnes on February 28, 2001
Format: Paperback
Poe's only novel reminded me of Gogol's "Dead Souls," in that, in both, the story seems to take a weird turn toward the end and shuts down rather oddly. Gogol's excuse is that he became a fire-breathing convert to Christianity midway through writing his book, and so had no use for the book's initial cynical tone (instead we get a character rant on in socio-religious mode for awhile). I don't know what Poe's excuse is, but the effect of his end-of-story turn is remarkable, and I won't spoil it for you (unlike other reviewers below - warning!). There is a vivid, dreamlike, unsettling quality to the whole book, and (with the exception of a few dull pages of sailing life detail - not unlike "Moby Dick," but with nowhere near as much page-filling excess) there is rip-roaring action from start to finish. Poe's yarn is full of incident, and every bit of it counts. So at midnight, lock the door, sit back, put your feet up, and soak up this book in the dim light of your hurricane lamp. It's, after all, one of many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore!
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By D. Cloyce Smith on January 13, 2007
Format: Paperback
Suspense and horror pervade Poe's full-length story of entombment, mutiny, shipwreck, cannibalism, and more--a veritable catalog of all the human fears and foibles that Poe depicts in his more widely read tales of mystery and imagination.

The novel opens with a prefatory episode, in which Pym describes a truly harrowing night at sea when he and his best friend Augustus, after having far too much to drink, went sailing during a storm. Instead of curing Pym of his wanderlust, the experience and Augustus's anecdotes about sea life fill his head with abnormally romantic visions of "shipwreck and famine; of captivity among barbarian hordes; of a lifetime dragged out in sorrow and tears, upon some grey and desolate rock, in an ocean unapproachable and unknown." It's an accurate summary of what ensues, and although it may sound a lot like Defoe, Poe livens things up with his own special brand of horror.

After this preview, the rest of the novel feels like two main stories patched together around a central character. In the first adventure, Pym stows away on the ship owned by Augustus's father and emerges to discover that there has been a mutiny. The second half imagines a sort of "lost horizon" in the midst of Antarctica; instead of ice, there are temperate islands populated by devilishly affectionate natives.

It's rip-roaring fun, and it slows down only in between, when Pym travels through the Galapagos Islands on the way to the South Pole. These chapters, paraphrased and plagiarized rather shamelessly from contemporary travel accounts, abound in longitudinal measurements (a map will come in handy) and summaries of previous real-life explorations of the South Seas.
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