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The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym Paperback – January 1, 2005

4.2 out of 5 stars 45 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


Edgar Allen Poe's only novel, is read with engaging energy by Adrian Sims and unfolds with the vividness and horrid logic of a dream. It begins with a prank, when young Pym stows away to be with a friend on a Nantucket brig. Mutiny leads to his claustrophobic incarceration (a familiar Poe theme), then shipwreck, with hunger and thirst agonisingly detailed. After narrowly escaping massacre on an island where even the teeth of natives are black, the two survivors sail into a snowy white curtain of white to be welcomed by huge angelic figures. Bizarre but well worth the voyage. - Christina Hardyment, The Times Over-the-top and hugely enjoyable Kati Nicholl, Daily Express The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket by Edgar Allan Poe In his late teens, Arthur Gordon Pym, hero of Edgar Allan Poe's only full-length novel, runs away to sea with his friend, Augustus Bernard, on his father's vessel, the American whaling brig, Grampus. Their plan is that Arthur will start the voyage as a stowaway, until they are far enough out to sea to prevent his return to Nantucket. Nothing goes according to plan, however. A couple of days out, a mutiny forces Augustus to conceal Arthur's presence for his safety. Not only Arthur's fate, but his very life is in question as conditions deteriorate, and the forces of man and nature rise against him. The tale is actually in two parts, the first records this voyage of the Grampus, the second deals with an ill-conceived and somewhat fantastical voyage to Antarctica. Poe's sense of the macabre and unexpected pervades the novel, creating an ever-rising suspense. Adam Sims, a veteran of radio, television, and theater performances, renders a very successful recounting of Arthur's tale, most of which is delivered in the first person. Sims conveys Arthur's naivete, adventurous spirit, ingenuity, and optimism concerning all the perils that befall him during the two journeys. This audiobook will appeal to adult and teen readers alike who love sea stories with a captivating story line and laden with heightened suspense. Several graphic passages dealing with cannibalism and violence may not be appropriate for junior high audiences. - Susan Allison, Soundcommentary.com --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.

From the Back Cover

Edgar Allan Poe’s only long fiction has provoked intense scholarly discussions about its meaning since its first publication. The novel relates the adventures of Pym after he stows away on a whaling ship, where he endures starvation, encounters with cannibals, a whirlpool, and finally a journey to an Antarctic sea. It draws on the conventions of travel writing and science fiction, and on Poe’s own experiences at sea, but is ultimately in a category of its own.

Appendices include virtually all of the contemporary sources of exploration and south polar navigation that Poe consulted and adapted to the narrative, together with reviews and notices of Pym and a sampling of responses to the novel from a wide array of authors, from Herman Melville to Jules Verne. Seven illustrations are also included.

--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 108 pages
  • Publisher: Digireads.com (January 1, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1420925733
  • ISBN-13: 978-1420925739
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.3 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (45 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,924,650 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: Paperback Verified Purchase
I'm a huge fan of Poe but I hadn't read this novel before we used it in an American Lit class. It's just not as well known as his short stories. It's a sea adventure and it has elements of just about every kind of sensational literature that was being written at the time. It has shipwrecks, cannibalism, treacherous natives, even a nod to the hollow earth theory. It won't necessarily remind you of the other writings of Poe but I enjoyed it throughly. It was one of my favorite novels we read in that class. Don't go into it expecting to be horror in the vein of The Pit and the Pendulum. Go into knowing that this is a Poe version of a sea adventure and all that might entail. I see this as one of those books I'll be back to read again.
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