- Paperback: 186 pages
- Publisher: Poe Press (November 17, 2013)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1619493535
- ISBN-13: 978-1619493537
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.4 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 96 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #676,260 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket Paperback – November 17, 2013
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About the Author
Edgar Allan Poe (1809-1849) was an American poet, short-story writer, writer of detective fiction, and critic. After publishing this novel he wrote TALES OF THE GROTESQUE AND ARABESQUE (1840) and THE RAVEN AND OTHER POEMS (1845). Richard Kopley isProfessor in the Department of English at Pennsylvania State University and Vice-President of the Poe Studies Association.
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And a very long and at times very draggy story it is: the tale dates from 1838 and tells of the protagonist being helped by his friend, the son of a sea captain, to stow away on the “Grampus,” for a sea adventure. The narrative actually is fairly exciting for the majority of this first part of the book, entailing mutiny, a shipwreck, cannibalism for survival, and meeting up with another ship whose crew is rotting corpses. They are eventually rescued by another ship, the “Jane Guy,” whose crew is on a trip to the South Pole. This second part of the book is a very lengthened geography and maritime lecture, enumerating many longitude/latitude locations and the various small islands of the South Pacific (a good atlas/globe/GoogleMaps at the ready helps). I found this part boring and interminable.
The third part enters into the realm of fantasy, in that the environs of Antarctica (again the map) is of a more temperate climate and peopled by primitive tribes who are initially friendly but who turn out to be savage and murderous. There are a number of what appear to be ancient symbolic runes that are not fully explained, and the ending, in which the survivors escape in a canoe only to view a very mysterious large figure, abruptly ends the tale. I’ve read some possible interpretations, but remain frustrated.
Interestingly, those guys at Amazon included an excerpt from Felix Parma’s book, “The Map of the Sky” at the end. It’s a fantasy in which the protagonist is H. G. Wells, and how he came to write “The War of the Worlds.” In this book (I’m part way through it), Mr. Poe is a gunnery sergeant on the “Annwan,” the exploration ship headed by Jerimiah Reynolds, to test the “Hollow Earth Theory” (which maintains that the South Pole is the entrance to the center of the Earth, which has its own climate and civilization). In actuality, Poe was reportedly strongly influenced by Reynolds in writing this story. “The Map of the Sky” goes on to indicate that a Martian craft had crashed in the Antarctic, with an escaped Martian wreaking havoc on the “Annwan’s” crew and is responsible for its destruction, but those details are for another review.
Three stars, then, for “The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym.” By the way, I’ve also finished “In the Mountains of Madness,” and its review will be included in the Lovecraft compendium review. Good story.
It starts out as an adventure story as Pym and his buddy Augustus conjure up a scheme in which Arthur will stowaway on Augustus' father ship to set out on a seafaring adventure. As one might expect with Poe things don't go quite as planned and the book is a diary of young Arthur's improbable misadventures.
Surprisingly Poe gives detailed accounts about the dynamics and structure of the ocean vessel. I had to wonder if he might at one time have fantasized about being a sailor or explorer. It does seem his fancy was caught by the tale of two seafaring survivors and thus he wrote the book.
While it does have the dated feel, it is still a wonderful adventure read, fast paced and entertaining throughout.