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

4.2 out of 5 stars 44 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

“It is Poe’s greatest work.”—Jorge Luis Borges

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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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: 5 x 0.5 x 7.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (44 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #648,821 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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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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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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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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Format: Audible Audio Edition
This novel consists of 3 parts. There's a book within the book that is book-ended by fictional publisher's elements. There is an "Introductory Note" by the character who tells the main story, the full narrative of his adventures, then a fictional publisher's note at the end.

The audiobook ends at the end of the character's account, but does not include the faux publisher's note. That note at the end is PART OF THE NARRATIVE and gives further story information and partial conclusion beyond what the character recounts in his document. So the audiobook cheats you of the full story. Anyone listening to just this audiobook would not know that the story isn't quite over yet.

Thankfully the part they left off is short enough it can be easily read from text by most listeners and the full text is easily available.

But this is a poor oversight on the part of the audiobook producer's and should be made clear here for anyone planning to listen to this edition.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is a sensationalistic and, at times, gruesome novel. That said, it's also quite brilliant, and, if you ask me, it directly influenced Melville in the writing of Moby Dick. Poe wrote only this one novel, and it was serialized, but it has the same careful construction, artistry, and hidden meanings that his great short works do. Most critics find this to be a fascinating, albeit confusing work. It's definitely not your typical Saturday afternoon, feel-good novel, but if you're a fan of high literature (or sea fiction), this is a rewarding read, with an ending you won't soon forget.
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