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The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket

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Poe found the germ of the story he would develop into ARTHUR GORDON PYM in 1836 in a newspaper account of the shipwreck and subsequent rescue of the two men on board. Published in 1838, this rousing sea adventure follows New England boy, Pym, who stows away on a whaling ship with its captain's son, Augustus. The two boys repeatedly find themselves on the brink of death or Poe found the germ of the story he would develop into ARTHUR GORDON PYM in 1836 in a newspaper account of the shipwreck and subsequent rescue of the two men on board. Published in 1838, this rousing sea adventure follows New England boy, Pym, who stows away on a whaling ship with its captain's son, Augustus. The two boys repeatedly find themselves on the brink of death or discovery and witness many terrifying events, including mutiny, cannibalism, and frantic pursuits. Poe imbued this deliberately popular tale with such allegorical richness, biblical imagery, and psychological insights that the tale has come to influence writers as various as Melville, James, Verne and Nabokov. For more than seventy years, Penguin has been the leading publisher of classic literature in the English-speaking world. With more than 1,700 titles, Penguin Classics represents a global bookshelf of the best works throughout history and across genres and disciplines. Readers trust the series to provide authoritative texts enhanced by introductions and notes by distinguished scholars and contemporary authors, as well as up-to-date translations by award-winning translators.


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Poe found the germ of the story he would develop into ARTHUR GORDON PYM in 1836 in a newspaper account of the shipwreck and subsequent rescue of the two men on board. Published in 1838, this rousing sea adventure follows New England boy, Pym, who stows away on a whaling ship with its captain's son, Augustus. The two boys repeatedly find themselves on the brink of death or Poe found the germ of the story he would develop into ARTHUR GORDON PYM in 1836 in a newspaper account of the shipwreck and subsequent rescue of the two men on board. Published in 1838, this rousing sea adventure follows New England boy, Pym, who stows away on a whaling ship with its captain's son, Augustus. The two boys repeatedly find themselves on the brink of death or discovery and witness many terrifying events, including mutiny, cannibalism, and frantic pursuits. Poe imbued this deliberately popular tale with such allegorical richness, biblical imagery, and psychological insights that the tale has come to influence writers as various as Melville, James, Verne and Nabokov. For more than seventy years, Penguin has been the leading publisher of classic literature in the English-speaking world. With more than 1,700 titles, Penguin Classics represents a global bookshelf of the best works throughout history and across genres and disciplines. Readers trust the series to provide authoritative texts enhanced by introductions and notes by distinguished scholars and contemporary authors, as well as up-to-date translations by award-winning translators.

30 review for The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket

  1. 4 out of 5

    Richard

    Dear The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym, I love you. I hate you. You confuse me because you evoke within me such conflicting emotions. The truth? I really got into a relationship with you because I thought that you would be a straight-up maritime adventure novel a la "Master and Commander." I heard you inspired Herman Melville when he was writing Moby Dick. That's what I was looking for. What I got was... well, what are you, Arthur? Here's the thing, Gordy: you were always good as an adventure n Dear The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym, I love you. I hate you. You confuse me because you evoke within me such conflicting emotions. The truth? I really got into a relationship with you because I thought that you would be a straight-up maritime adventure novel a la "Master and Commander." I heard you inspired Herman Melville when he was writing Moby Dick. That's what I was looking for. What I got was... well, what are you, Arthur? Here's the thing, Gordy: you were always good as an adventure novel. That was your strength and I always liked that about you. I liked your gruesome tales of cannibalism, the ship of dead people, the mutiny, the shark attacks, killing a polar bear with a knife and the sprays of blood, etc. But then, oh God, there were the parts where you devolved into long passages about nautical terminology. For pages and pages you rattled off longitudes and latitudes and the way the sea currents were running. I almost left you then. You were elegant as hell, but I was bored off my ass. "Stick to the action, Arthur," I wanted to say, "If I wanted a travelogue I'd read 'The Voyage of the Beagle.' If I wanted a treatise about the nesting habits of frigate birds I'd pick up a Time-Life book or check out Wikipedia." I feel like you are trying to be all things to all people, Arthur. I think this has to do with your origins, how you were published episodically in a newspaper and had to appeal a variety of readers. And while I admire your versatility, I think you should just stick to who you really are, deep down: an adventure novel. Or maybe, again, that's just who I wanted you to be and I'm projecting my expectations on you. If you feel smothered by me, that's fine. And you are a racist son of a bitch, too. All the black guys are either mutineers or knuckle-dragging savages? Come on! Arthur, I'm sorry it didn't work out. I wanted to love you so bad. I want to compare you other lovers: your lost civilizations reminded me of Borges, your castaways reminded me of Robert Louis Stevenson, you seem at times like you could've been a pulp novel penned in the early twentieth century---all swashbuckle and edge-of-your-seat adventure. But I just can't look past your flaws. And maybe that's my fault. I think our age difference is a chasm between us. You come from different generation. I can't help but judge you by my modern standards of tolerance (and post-Hemingway appreciation for strong, brief sentences) and that's not fair to either of us. I'm sure there's a better reader out there for you, somewhere, Arthur. We had some good times this past week and a half, but I'm glad to move on. I'm eager to start a relationship with another book. Me and Raymond Chandler have been seeing each other lately, and I think I might pursue that a little. I'm eager to start a new chapter in my reading life (sorry for the pun). Don't take any of this personally. Again: it's not you, Arthur. It's me. Sincerely, Richard Porter P.S. Bad-ass cover, BTW.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Luís

    Arthur Pym clandestinely embarks on a whaling ship about to cruise in the southern seas. With the help of his friend Auguste, the captain's son, he hides in the hold. He intends to reveal his presence once the ship has reached the high seas, and it will be too late to turn around. In his hiding place, Arthur Pym falls into a deep sleep. His awakening sounds like the beginning of many misadventures: mutiny, shipwreck, famine, captivity. It is the beginning of a long journey of horror. I embarked o Arthur Pym clandestinely embarks on a whaling ship about to cruise in the southern seas. With the help of his friend Auguste, the captain's son, he hides in the hold. He intends to reveal his presence once the ship has reached the high seas, and it will be too late to turn around. In his hiding place, Arthur Pym falls into a deep sleep. His awakening sounds like the beginning of many misadventures: mutiny, shipwreck, famine, captivity. It is the beginning of a long journey of horror. I embarked on this novel with an enthusiasm that quickly dissipated. The story of these adventures is cluttered with inopportune digressions: navigation lesson, rules for stowing a ship, presentation on the nesting of albatrosses. The loaded style gives a false rhythm which stiffens the narration. The reader finds himself skipping paragraphs to complete a chapter. This book should perhaps not have considered a simple adventure story; the narrated events would be so many allegories to decipher. A reading rich in interpretation for lack of escape recommend to lovers of hermeticism.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Sr3yas

    Poe's only novel, The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket is not your average 19th-century adventure tale like those of Jules Verne or Robert Louis Stevenson. Instead, it's a type of tale which acts as a forefather for many tales to come and it's a hell of a weird ride. The narrative introduces Augustus and our narrator, Arthur Gordon Pym. The first chapter tells a drunken adventure of these two boys. Not sure why that chapter is there, but it's there. The next couple of chapters tells on Poe's only novel, The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket is not your average 19th-century adventure tale like those of Jules Verne or Robert Louis Stevenson. Instead, it's a type of tale which acts as a forefather for many tales to come and it's a hell of a weird ride. The narrative introduces Augustus and our narrator, Arthur Gordon Pym. The first chapter tells a drunken adventure of these two boys. Not sure why that chapter is there, but it's there. The next couple of chapters tells one of the best sea adventures I've read in a long time! As Augustus and his father decided to set sail for open ocean, Pym decides to join them anonymously with help of his friend. Well, things went south quickly on that ship. Filled with scenes of macabre, bloodletting and survival, those initial chapters were beautifully crafted by Poe. I especially loved the scene with the ghost ship. They were daunting and my imagination went wild there! But then the story changes direction. Instead of sticking with the crazy atmosphere the story created in the initial chapters, Poe switches to an exploration and speculative narrative which reminded me of Jules Verne stories. It seems like Jules Verne was really influenced by this style. Verne was a lifelong fan of Poe and he even wrote a sequel to this novel in later years. Anyways, we are now chilling with Pym and his gang in a new ship and they decide to explore the unexplored Antarctic region. They find a mysterious Island populated by a tribe of black (Even their teeth are black). The Island itself is a wonder as it is filled with undiscovered flora and fauna. This part reads like Arthur Conan Doyle's novel, the lost world. The previously undiscovered land with strange natives and bizarre environments? That's Doyle right there. Now, this is a work that clearly inspired many writers. Even HP Lovecraft connects this story with his own novella, At the Mountains of Madness. But as a novel, the narrative suffers from inconsistent story and styles. To be honest, after the 13th chapter, the story sacrificed its momentum and failed to gain it back. So I'm thinking 5 stars for the first half and 2 stars for the rest. Also, the ending was ... What was the ending? It felt like one of those weird deaths we hear about in news: The ones where people die abruptly as they were typing a senta

  4. 5 out of 5

    Paul

    1.5 stars This is Poe’s only novel; published in 1838. I haven’t read any Poe for many years, having read some of his poetry and his short stories in my teens. This is an odd novel. Arthur Gordon Pym and his friend Augustus are teenagers in search of adventure. Augustus’s father is a sea captain. A voyage is in the offing and Augustus contrives to enable Pym to stow away. A series of adventures ensues; each more farfetched than the previous. There is a bloody mutiny, followed by a shipwreck with 1.5 stars This is Poe’s only novel; published in 1838. I haven’t read any Poe for many years, having read some of his poetry and his short stories in my teens. This is an odd novel. Arthur Gordon Pym and his friend Augustus are teenagers in search of adventure. Augustus’s father is a sea captain. A voyage is in the offing and Augustus contrives to enable Pym to stow away. A series of adventures ensues; each more farfetched than the previous. There is a bloody mutiny, followed by a shipwreck with Pym and a small number of survivors left on the wreckage of the ship. A long period of floating around leads to cannibalism, an encounter with a ship floating aimlessly with only corpses on board and finally rescue by another ship. This ship is on a fur collecting expedition and it continues to slaughter lots of seals. It sails into the Antarctic regions, which prove to be surprisingly warm. Poe attempts to invent lots of new species of bird and when habitable islands are reached invents a few mammals as well. Inhabited islands are reached populated by “natives” who are primitive but appear friendly. They prove to be unfriendly and most of the crew are killed and the ship destroyed. Pym and three others manage to escape in a canoe and head for the South Pole as the descriptions become increasingly surreal. The ending gives a nod to Reynolds and the hollow earth theories popular at the time. On the surface this reads like one of many nineteenth century adventure novels by writers such as Haggard, Stevenson and Kipling; comparisons are also drawn with Moby Dick. This being Poe, of course, there is more going on; indeed there is a whole industry of interpretation. There are clearly allegorical and autobiographical elements and there are also elements of cryptography (an interest of Poe’s). Some of the allegorical elements are said to be religious (not convinced by that). The novel was obviously written in haste and there are lots of continuity errors. Poe is also a bit of a geek about the sea and sailing and there are long descriptive passages about navigation, climate, latitude and longitude, which although well written can be irksome. However it is on lots of best novel lists; Borges rated it and Freud was fascinated by it as he felt it explored man’s unconscious desire for annihilation. However you analyse and break down this novel (and it is well written with some interesting and experimental aspects), there is an issue which stands out and that is race. Poe was from the South and this was written when slavery and everything that went with it was still in place. Poe’s biographers have pointed out that Poe did not approve of the abolition and believed that black people were inferior. It is noteworthy that one of the principal mutineers was the black cook who portrayed as a monster with no redeeming features; “The bound seamen were dragged to the gangway. Here the cook stood with an axe, striking each victim on the head… In this manner twenty-two perished.” The stereotypes keep coming. The islanders who are amazed at the white skins of their visitors are portrayed as primitive and almost sub-human; they are also treacherous. Poe describes them thus; “In truth, from every thing I could see of these wretches, they appeared to be the most wicked, hypocritical, vindictive, bloodthirsty, and altogether fiendish race of men upon the face of the globe.” You could blame the times Poe was writing in, but this isn’t good enough. Poe in his article “The Philosophy of Composition” argues that writing (both poetry and prose) should show truth and meaning. The meaning here is that black is bad and white is the opposite. Toni Morrison has forcibly made this point; “Africanism is the vehicle by which the American self knows itself as not enslaved, but free; nor repulsive, but desirable. Africanist idiom is used to establish difference or, in a later period, to signal modernity.” Matt Johnson’s novel Pym is an interesting counterpoint where a good black protagonist encounters white savages in the Antarctic; and the point is made; “You want to understand Whiteness, as a pathology and a mindset, you have to look to the source of its assumptions. … That’s why Poe’s work mattered. It offered passage on a vessel bound for the primal American subconscious, the foundation on which all our visible systems and structures were built.” I wanted to like this, but I’m with Toni Morrison on this one.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Edward Lorn

    Some authors were never meant to be novelists. Some authors are meant to write short stories and some authors are poets. In The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket, Poe's (thankfully) only full-length novel, we witness the struggles of an author looking to branch out into long form and having no fucking clue what he is doing. You can see a beautifully-wretched and bleak novelette or novella in here, but Poe overstays his welcome by about 50 pages. Even Poe considered this novel "silly". Y Some authors were never meant to be novelists. Some authors are meant to write short stories and some authors are poets. In The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket, Poe's (thankfully) only full-length novel, we witness the struggles of an author looking to branch out into long form and having no fucking clue what he is doing. You can see a beautifully-wretched and bleak novelette or novella in here, but Poe overstays his welcome by about 50 pages. Even Poe considered this novel "silly". You have people on Goodreads touting this pile of shit as "SUPERB!" and "A MASTERSTROKE!" when literary scholars have agreed that they're not even sure what the fuck Poe was talking about half the time. Sorry, Weekend Lit Majors, I gotta go with the scholars on this one. It's a book of madfuck ramblings and stolen navigation notes Poe cribbed from Jeremiah N. Reynolds' many explorations. And you can tell when these stolen sections come into play because Poe's prose dials down and we're left reading paragraph after paragraph of nautical speak and goddamn coordinates. Anyone who gives this meandering and overlong novella more than three stars needs their heads checked. I doth believe they've skipped a cog and hath traveled down the path of the dodo. At the very least, they lack research skills. Much like Mr. Pym, Poe is lost at sea here. The book was originally written in serial form, but was then discontinued, unfinished. As Poe was want to do, he revised the text and extended it into the shitbrick castle we view today. But that's okay. No one's perfect. Poe will go down in history as the man who wrote The Cask of Amontillado and The Raven and Masque of the Red Death and so on. He was a brilliantly-dark author of spectacular fiction. This novel is simply not that. And the fact that he knew The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym was, in his own words, "a very silly book", makes me respect him all the more. In summation: I hate that I finished this one, but at least my buddy Thomas finally picked a stinker. I thought he'd never break my streak of choosing truly crappy literature, but he came through for me this time. Thanks, dude. Overall, this book is a trunk novel that people want to find reasoning in but have, so far, in almost two hundred years, not been able to clearly pin down. And that's because there's nothing to pin down. Not everything written has to make sense. Sometimes, some books are just bad. This is one of those bad books by a great writer. Deal with it. Final Judgment: The anal leavings of a master wordsmith. Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Nar...

  6. 5 out of 5

    Matt

    I read this in the German translation by Arno Schmidt in preparation of Schmidt’s Zettel’s Traum, which deals with E.A.Poe. I already read this book decades ago (in another translation) and liked it quite a bit. This “new” one though was quite another experience–a good one! If you know Arno Schmidt you also know about his rather unusual way of punctuation. In this book he uses it too, especially in the first part. I guess the usage of the equal=sign instead of the hyphen, the & instead of “und” ( I read this in the German translation by Arno Schmidt in preparation of Schmidt’s Zettel’s Traum, which deals with E.A.Poe. I already read this book decades ago (in another translation) and liked it quite a bit. This “new” one though was quite another experience–a good one! If you know Arno Schmidt you also know about his rather unusual way of punctuation. In this book he uses it too, especially in the first part. I guess the usage of the equal=sign instead of the hyphen, the & instead of “und” (“and”), and 1 instead of “ein” (“a/an”) may turn some people off ... but not me. I love it. And it’s not overdone either. Another great thing about Schmidt, for me, is his ingenious way of inventing new words that “just fit”. Things like “Gekerkre” instead of “Kerker” (“dungeon”), or “Labyrümpel” instead of “?” (there is no single equivalent word for it; it’s a combination of “Labyrinth” and “Gerümpel” (“labyrinth” and “lumber”)), or “Perückoid” instead of “Perückenteil” (some part of a wig–just think Donald Trump) made me laugh out lout. And again, he hasn’t overdone it. I suppose it’s due to Schmidt’s reported atheism that he wrote the German word for “God” with two capital letters–“GOtt”–throughout the text. What I haven’t figured out is the reason why some words are spelled differently sometimes. For instance “Silbe” and “Sylbe” (“syllable”), or “Hai” and “Hay” (“shark”). Maybe it’s just a mistake by Schmidt that the editor hasn’t noticed or was too shy to mention. The result of Arno Schmidt’s efforts led to a whole new book in my opinion. If I hadn’t known in advance I never would have guessed that this is a translation! Of course there are people who complain about this very fact that the translation is too far from the original [see link to a newspaper article below]. So be it. If those people can decide what a good translation is in terms of nearness to the original, then they can obviously read the original. So, why don’t they do it in the first place? For those of you who cannot read Poe in the original I advise you to check out the translation by Arno Schmidt. It’s the next best thing! Here are some quotes (from the original (source: Project Gutenberg) and the translation): ____________________ from Chapter I original“Matter!” he stammered, in the greatest apparent surprise, letting go the tiller at the same moment, and falling forward into the bottom of the boat–“matter!–why, nothing is the–matter–going home–d–d–don’t you see?” The whole truth now flashed upon me. I flew to him and raised him up. He was drunk–beastly drunk–he could no longer either stand, speak, or see.translation„Los?“, stammelte er, anscheinend in höchstem Erstaunen; wobei er aber im selben Augenblick das Steuer fahren ließ, und nach vornüber, auf den Boden des Bootes, fiel –: „los? – wieso; nix iss doch – los – heim geht’s – m= – m= – merxU das nich?“ Jetzt kam die volle Wahrheit wie ein Blitz über mich. Ich flog hin zu ihm, und richtete ihn auf –: Er war betrunken – viehisch besoffen – er konnte weder länger stehen noch sprechen noch sehen. from Chapter II originalJust as we turned the second corner, after passing Mr. Edmund’s well, who should appear, standing right in front of me, and looking me full in the face, but old Mr. Peterson, my grandfather. “Why, bless my soul, Gordon,” said he, after a long pause, “why, why–whose dirty cloak is that you have on?” “Sir!” I replied, assuming, as well as I could, in the exigency of the moment, an air of offended surprise, and talking in the gruffest of all imaginable tones–“sir! you are a sum’mat mistaken–my name, in the first place, bee’nt nothing at all like Goddin, and I’d want you for to know better, you blackguard, than to call my new obercoat a darty one!”translationGerade als wir an Mr. Edmunds Brunnen vorbei, und um die zweite Straßenecke danach waren, mußte doch Wer auftauchen, direkt vor mir stehen bleiben & mir mitten ins Gesicht starren –?–: natürlich der alte Mr. Peterson, mein Großvater. „Ja aber – meiner Seel’, Gordon“, sagte er, nach einer langen Pause, „wie, wie – Mensch, wessen dreck’jen Mantel hast den Du da an?!“. „Sir!“ gab ich zurück; nahm, in einem so kritischen Augenblick, nach Kräften die Miene beleidigten Erstaunens an, und sprach auch in den barschesten Tönen, die man sich nur vorstellen kann –: „Sir!, Sie kucken woll ’n büschen queer, was?! Erstens mal hat mein Name nicht die entfernteste Ähnlichkeit mit Goddin; und weiterhin möcht’ ich Ihn’n nur den 1 guten Tip geben, Sie Lump Sie, daß Sie mein’n neuen Überzieher nich nochmal dreckig nenn’n.“ from Chapter III originalShall I ever forget my feelings at this moment? He was going–my friend–my companion, from whom I had a right to expect so much–he was going–he would abandon me–he was gone! He would leave me to perish miserably, to expire in the most horrible and loathsome of dungeons–and one word–one little syllable would save me–yet that single syllable I could not utter! I felt, I am sure, more than ten thousand times the agonies of death itself.translationOb ich jemals die Empfindungen dieser Augenblicke werde vergessen können?: da ging er – mein Feund – mein Gefährte, von dem ich ein Recht hatte, das Höchste zu erwarten – da ging er – verließ mich – war praktisch schon fort! War drauf & dran, mich dem erbärmlichsten Zugrundegehen zu überlassen, dem Verröcheln im allerekligsten & =schrecklichsten Gekerkre – und ein Wörtlein – ach was, 1 arme Silbe würde mich retten –: und diese 1=einzige Silbe wollte nicht aus mir heraus! Ich habe damals, das weiß ich gewiß, die Schrecken des Todes 10.000 Mal durchlebt. from Chapter IV originalHis arms, as well as legs, were bowed in the most singular manner, and appeared to possess no flexibility whatever. His head was equally deformed, being of immense size, with an indentation on the crown (like that on the head of most negroes), and entirely bald. To conceal this latter deficiency, which did not proceed from old age, he usually wore a wig formed of any hair-like material which presented itself–occasionally the skin of a Spanish dog or American grizzly bear.translationSeine Arme, und die Beine nicht minder, waren in der allereigentümlichsten Weise gebogen; und schienen keinerlei Flechsibilität zu besitzen. Gleichermaßen verformt war sein Kopf; von unwahrscheinlicher Größe & mit einer kleinen Dälle auf dem Scheitel (wie sie sich bei den meisten Negerschädeln vorfindet), und dazu völlig kahl. Um letztbesagten Defekt, der nicht etwa von hohem Alter herrührte, zu tarnen, trug er gewöhnlich ein Perückoid, aus dem erst=besten haarähnlichen Material, das just bei der Hand war – vom Fell eines spanischen Wachtelhündchens an, bis notfalls hinauf zum amerikanischen Grizzly. from Chapter V originalHe pushed on for some time in a most pitiable state of anxiety, until, at length, he found the pathway utterly blocked up, and that there was no possibility of making any farther way by the course in which he had set out. Overcome now by his feelings, he threw himself among the lumber in despair, and wept like a child.translationSo kämpfte er sich, in einem wahrhaft bemitleidenswerten Zustand von Niedergeschlagenheit noch eine Weile fürder; bis er endlich seinen Nicht=Pfad endgültig blockiert fand; und erkennen mußte, daß es auf diesem zur Zeit eingeschlagtenen Wege, keine Möglichkeit eines Weiterkommens mehr gebe. Da warf er sich, übermannt von seinen Gefühlen, voller Verzweifelung mitten ins Labyrümpel hin, und weinte wie ein Kind. from Chapter VI originalThe stowage on board the Grampus was most clumsily done, if stowage that could be called which was little better than a promiscuous huddling together of oil-casks[1] and ship furniture. [1: Whaling vessels are usually fitted with iron oil-tanks–why the Grampus was not I have never been able to ascertain.]translationDie Ladung an Bord der GRAMPUS nun, war aufs ungeschickteste gestaut worden; vorausgesetzt, daß man mit ’Stauen’ bezeichnen will, was in wenig mehr als einem hudligen Über’nanderhäufen von Ölfässern & Schiffsausrüstung bestand.* [* Walfangschiffe sind für gewöhnlich mit eisernen Öltanks ausgerüstet – wieso das beim GRAMPUS nicht der Fall war, habe ich niemals in Erfahrung bringen können.] from Chapter XII originalThey are frequently found of an enormous size. I have myself seen several which would weigh from twelve to fifteen hundred pounds, although I do not remember that any navigator speaks of having seen them weighing more than eight hundred. Their appearance is singular, and even disgusting. Their steps are very slow, measured, and heavy, their bodies being carried about a foot from the ground. Their neck is long, and exceedingly slender; from eighteen inches to two feet is a very common length, and I killed one, where the distance from the shoulder to the extremity of the head was no less than three feet ten inches.translationMan trifft häufig Exemplare von enormer Größe an. Ich habe selbst einige gesehen, die zwischen zwölf= und fünfzehnhundert Pfund gewogen haben müssen; obwohl ich mich nicht erinnern kann, daß Reisende berichtet hätten, je Stücke von über 800 Pfund Gewicht angetroffen zu haben. Ihr Aussehen ist sonderbar, ja, zum Teil widerlich. Die Schritte erfolgen sehr langsam, abgemessen & schwerfällig; wobei der Leib etwa 1 Fuß überm Erdboden getragen wird. Ihr Hals ist lang & dabei äußerst geschlank: 45-60 Zentimeter ist eine ganz normale Länge; und ich habe einmal eine erlegt, wo der Abstand von der Schulter bis zur Schädelspitze nicht weniger als 115 betrug. from Chapter XIV originalBesides the penguin many other birds are here to be found, among which may be mentioned seahens, blue peterels, teal, ducks, Port Egmont hens, shags, Cape pigeons, the nelly, seaswallows, terns, seagulls, Mother Carey’s chickens, Mother Carey’s geese, or the great peterel, and, lastly, the albatross. The great peterel is as large as the common albatross, and is carnivorous. It is frequently called the break-bones, or osprey peterel. translationNeben dem Pinguin sind noch viele andere Vogelarten hier vertreten, von denen die Lumme erwähnt sei, der blaue Sturmvogel, die Krickente, sowie Enten allgemein, Port=Egmont=Hennen (also Raubmöven), Krähenscharten, Captauben, ›Nellies‹ (oder Riesensturmvögel), See= & Meer=Schwalben, Seemöven, ›Mutter Careys Küchlein‹ (Fulmar), ›Mutter Carey’s Gans‹ oder der Große Sturmvogel, und endlich noch der Albatross. Der Große Peters= oder Sturm=Vogel wird ebenso groß wie der gewöhnliche Albatross, und ist ein überaus reißendes Tier, weshalb er auch häufig als ›Knochenbrecher‹ oder ›Fischadler‹ bezeichnet wird. ==================== Ein=Schub I discovered an article from the Zeit=Online=Magazin in which the author complains that there were no good translations of E.A.Poe into German. In particular, he, the article=writer, has nothing good to say about Arno Schmidt’s translation of Arthur Gordon Pym. Instead he praises the new (in 2009) translation by Hans Schmid as a gain. To prove his thesis, the following paragraph is quoted: originalI can hardly tell what possessed me, but the words were no sooner out of his mouth than I felt a thrill of the greatest excitement and pleasure, and thought his mad idea one of the most delightful and most reasonable things in the world. It was blowing almost a gale, and the weather was very cold – it being late in October. I sprang out of bed, nevertheless, in a kind of ecstasy, and told him I was quite as brave as himself, and quite as tired as he was of lying in bed like a dog...translation (by Arno Schmidt)Ich kann schwerlich klar formulieren, was mich jetzt überkam; aber kaum, daß diese Worte aus seinem Munde waren, verspürte ich einen Schauder aus kitzelndster Erregung & Lüsternheit; und seine Tollmannsidee dünkte mich eine der ergötzlichsten & logischsten Angelegenheiten von der Welt. Der Wind war nahezu böig zu nennen, und das Wetter empfindlich kalt – ging es doch schon gegen Ende Oktober. Nichtsdestoweniger sprang ich aus dem Bett; und informierte ihn, daß ich genauso tapfer sei wie er auch; und gänzlich so überdrüssig, wie er, mich wie ein Hund im Bette zusammenzurollen...translation (by Hans Schmid)Ich kann kaum sagen, was da in mich gefahren ist, aber die Worte waren kaum über seine Lippen gekommen, da durchfuhr mich bereits ein Gefühl der größten Freude und Erregung, und ich hielt seine verrückte Idee für einen der wunderbarsten und vernünftigsten Vorschläge von der Welt. Draußen tobte schon fast ein Sturm, und das Wetter war sehr kalt – es war Ende Oktober. Trotzdem sprang ich in einer Art Ekstase aus dem Bett und sagte ihm, ich sei genauso mutig wie er, und genau wie er hätte ich genug davon, wie ein Hund im Bett zu liegen... Granted – AS’s translation is not as close to the original as the one from HS. But – let’s face it – isn’t the one from AS just terrific? ... and way more fun?! If anything should ever be so close to the original; why then – with all due respect – shouldn’t one go directly to the original and read that? ==================== from the last Chapter originalMany unusual phenomena now indicated that we were entering upon a region of novelty and wonder. A high range of light gray vapour appeared constantly in the southern horizon, flaring up occasionally in lofty streaks, now darting from east to west, now from west to east, and again presenting a level and uniform summit–in short, having all the wild variations of the Aurora Borealis.translationManch ungewöhnliches Fänomen deutete nun darauf hin, daß wir im Begriffe stünden, in eine Region der Novitäten & Wunder einzudringen. Ein hohe Bande aus lichtgrauem Gedämpf erschien beständig am südlichen Horizont; flackerte gelegentlich auf, in luft’gen Streifen, die jetzt von Ost nach West, jetzt von Ost nach West schossen; dann zeigte der obere Rand sich wieder eben & einförmig – kurzum, sie hatte all die wild= & wirre Veränderlichkeit der Aurora Borealis. __________ Update 10/5/16 While reading Arno Schmidt’s Zettels Traum I realize there’s a lot more to Poe’s text than meets the eyes at first glance. Listening to Dän’s (a character from ZT) explanation of Etyms I think it makes sense to add this short piece to the list of translations (from Chapter 25): originalMany unusual phenomena now—indicated that we were entering upon a region of novelty and wonder.translationManch ungewöhnliches Fänomen deutete nun darauf hin, daß wir im Begriff stünden, in eine Region der Novitäten & Wunder einzudringen. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Brian

    Shipwrecks! Cannibalism! Wiley natives! This is a quintessential ripping yarn, a page turner of the most classic kind - a book that inspired Melville and caused Auden to gush. It's Poe's only novel, and perhaps given his master of the short form it's best that he only gave us one to savor. And that ending! I wish I hadn't read the appendix; the end to the main narrative was so shocking and unexpected, so good. Yes, yes, there are those long passages about rookeries and longitudinal markings, but Shipwrecks! Cannibalism! Wiley natives! This is a quintessential ripping yarn, a page turner of the most classic kind - a book that inspired Melville and caused Auden to gush. It's Poe's only novel, and perhaps given his master of the short form it's best that he only gave us one to savor. And that ending! I wish I hadn't read the appendix; the end to the main narrative was so shocking and unexpected, so good. Yes, yes, there are those long passages about rookeries and longitudinal markings, but don't skim those beauties. Poe writes in such precise language; the reader comes away from each sentence with the impression that the brush strokes couldn't be improved. I'm reading Poe as a prelude to reading Arno Schmidt's "Bottom's Dream" and I'm very happy that it led me to finally reading something I've always meant to get to.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Quirkyreader

    This second go around I did it as audio. I still thought is was similar to a Jules Verne novel.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Ivana Books Are Magic

    I've read The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket yesterday (in one sitting) and I'm not entirely sure how I feel about it. I'm certainly glad I picked it up and read it for it proved a fascinating read. Nevertheless, there were quite a few things I didn't like and that confused me about this one and only novel by Edgar Allan Poe. On overall, I have to admit to feeling a bit conflicted about this novel. Firstly, because it doesn't feel like a novel at all. It feels like a collection of s I've read The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket yesterday (in one sitting) and I'm not entirely sure how I feel about it. I'm certainly glad I picked it up and read it for it proved a fascinating read. Nevertheless, there were quite a few things I didn't like and that confused me about this one and only novel by Edgar Allan Poe. On overall, I have to admit to feeling a bit conflicted about this novel. Firstly, because it doesn't feel like a novel at all. It feels like a collection of stories or novellas. A collection of stories featuring the same protagonist but not a novel as such. The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym doesn't have that inner connection and flow that a novel has. There is no character development to speak of. When I finished it, I felt like I read maybe four stories or three short novellas. I'll explain what I mean, but there might be some SPOILERS so considered yourself warned. The first story is when Arthur Gordon Pym decided to become a sailor and boards a ship in secret with the help of his fried August. I would call it a mystery story with elements of horror. The second story would be the mutiny on board that would be adventure with elements of horror. Third story would be the castaway part and that would be pure horror for me. The fourth part would be the sailing and exploring prior to meeting the indigenous people as well as the meeting/adventure part itself. That final part reads more like an adventure with a symbolic ending so a mix of symbolism and adventure. The symbolic ending was well done, I felt and was very true to Poe. If this book was a collection of novellas with the same protagonist, it would just make more sense because then we wouldn't have to pretend not to notice how disjointed it is. The episodes or the stories aren't interconnected. Even the writing style is different. For example, the graphic episode/story where they are stuck on a boat with no food is written so vividly and the author assures us it is something they will never forget but as soon as that part ends- you guess what? They never talk or think about it. It just doesn't make any sense as a novel. Long story short, Poe wasn't a novelist. He was a poet and writer of short stories and novellas. Do you know what? That doesn't make it any less of a writer. Not everyone has to write novels. Back to my points. Secondly, even if taken as series of stories (it makes more sense of it to see it that way), this book still seems a bit chaotic. In one instant Poe is writing horror in all its gore details and in the next, he goes all sir David Attenborough on us, devoting page after page to description of animals and nature. Thirdly, there were some expressions that are not comfortable to read nowadays and some parts feel racist from today's perspective. Fourthly, the book is a bit too graphic for my taste. Finally, Tiger (the dog) deserved more space!!! Now, that I'm done with complaints, let's say what I loved about this 'novel'. Edgar Allan Poe had such a talent. Poe's imaginative force is something that you don't come across often, even in the best of writing- let's put it like that. Poe wrote so imaginably and originally, it is always a pleasure to read. The edition I read was quite old and it said how this novel was ignored by critics until some critic (forgot the name) said it was the predecessor to Moby Dick. Do you know what? It truly is. Here you can see a description of a similar legendary friendship and whale hunting is mentioned. It is crazy to think of how many writers Poe influenced. With his stories, Poe practically invented the detective and horror short story genre. So, if he published a collection of novellas and labelled it a novel, I'm willing to forgive him for it. Would I recommend this novel? Yes, I definietly would but only for adults. There are many violent and graphic passages in this book (that include cannibalism) that make it non advisable for children and/or overly sensitive adults.

  10. 5 out of 5

    mark monday

    an unusually restrained Edgar Allan Poe strips away his more poetic tendencies as well as his luscious prose in this Narrative, his only novel. the result is an "adventure" that is grim, Grim, GRIM... and so ends up feeling much like Poe after all, despite the shift in style. a feckless youth decides to follow his heart and his sailor friend by stowing away on a whaling ship. sounds like a recipe for an exciting voyage full of adventure, bromance, mind-opening experiences and perhaps a little Com an unusually restrained Edgar Allan Poe strips away his more poetic tendencies as well as his luscious prose in this Narrative, his only novel. the result is an "adventure" that is grim, Grim, GRIM... and so ends up feeling much like Poe after all, despite the shift in style. a feckless youth decides to follow his heart and his sailor friend by stowing away on a whaling ship. sounds like a recipe for an exciting voyage full of adventure, bromance, mind-opening experiences and perhaps a little Coming of Age, right? WRONG. so very, very wrong. little does he know, our poor lad is living in a novel written by Edgar Allan Poe; he has made a decision to leave all safety and sanity behind and to instead naturally enough, near starvation & dehydration & a savage attack from a furry friend & mutiny & bloodthirsty slaughter & then even more bloodthirsty slaughter & horrific weather & capsizing & more starvation, more dehydration & cannibalism & the death of all dignity occurs. and then... the adventure is only half over! coming aboard a new ship, our plucky young hero asshole uses his powers of persuasion and his ability to make a grown man doubt his own manhood, and manages to convince his new captain to continue their voyage to Antarctica despite a distinct lack of fuel and supplies. guess what? more horrifying things occur. Arthur Gordon Pym is, above all things, a bonafide dumbass. this was an interesting experience. the past month was a busy time for me, so I pretty much just read this in 20 minute installments. it was maybe the best way to read it. it is a dry book but not an impenetrable one. fairly easy going down, in its own austere way. the horrors occur so regularly that it was rather nice taking a break after each new disaster. and Poe includes many lengthy discussions and explorations of fairly technical topics - things like proper and improper methods of stowage on a whaling ship - that he apparently took verbatim from other texts of the time period. that could have been tedious if I had decided to read this over the course of a few sittings, but spread out over a longer period of time, it actually was pretty interesting. so I knew that each time I cracked open this book, I was sure to get both an atrocity and a bit of education. a word about the ending: it is just the kind of abrupt and entirely ambiguous ending that pleases me to no end. the sea changing color and turning viscous, the wall of mist, birds fleeing from something, an eerie white figure in the distance... and then full stop. no questions answered. it was like I was reading a sea journey written by Joseph Conrad and then all of a sudden the author remembered he was Edgar Allan Poe.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Bertrand Jost

    This is the only novel of Edgar Allan Poe. I really wanted to read it, back in 2013, because knowing Poe’s literary skills for telling interesting stories and keeping the reader engaged, I was eager to see if Poe could manage the same through the course of a whole novel. I must say that the result is rather successful. The book relates the story of a young sailor Arthur Gordon Pym who sails off aboard a whaling ship called the Grampus. From there, Pym undergoes a series of adventures including s This is the only novel of Edgar Allan Poe. I really wanted to read it, back in 2013, because knowing Poe’s literary skills for telling interesting stories and keeping the reader engaged, I was eager to see if Poe could manage the same through the course of a whole novel. I must say that the result is rather successful. The book relates the story of a young sailor Arthur Gordon Pym who sails off aboard a whaling ship called the Grampus. From there, Pym undergoes a series of adventures including shipwreck, mutiny, cannibalism and more. As the story unravels, the interest of the reader is constantly renewed through very well crafted descriptions of the various situations, and an excellent portrayal of the hero’s emotions and despair as the dramatic tension builds up at every turn until at the last minute an unexpected event saves the day, only to throw the poor Pym falling into another danger. I read this book on the train to work every day and I must say, on each trip, I was sorry to reach my destination as I was eager to follow on Pym on his adventure. As Poe juggles with his hero from adventures to mishaps, he keeps the story on a constant thread: the hero is actually always sailing southward and each new unexpected event takes him further in that direction. This is important because the book was written in 1838 at a time when Antarctica was not yet discovered making this land the last frontier of the world. This last continent was first approached by Captain James Cook in 1773. Cook hypothesized that a continent may lie further to the south. An American sealer John Davis might have landed there in 1821 but this was little known at the time. In 1839 and 1840 French and American expeditions reported the presence of a continent south of Latin America but again this land was mostly unchartered. This gave Poe an opportunity for bringing his story into the realm of the extraordinary that he cherished so much. Unfortunately, that last part was a failure in my opinion. For most of the book, Poe excelled in the realist drama that he managed to create but as his hero sails further south, the story becomes increasingly strange and weird with a labyrinth, strange marks, warm water and a huge shrouded white figure. Then the story ends abruptly with a small post-scriptural note where Poe tries to build a sense of mystery around the fate of his hero. I found the ending disappointing. Poe clearly didn’t know where to go with his story. He might have been tempted to offer his vision of what might lie around the South Pole but in the end he was probably lacking any true idea or opinion about what that might be and he decided to leave it as a mystery. All in all, I would still recommend this book for the very realistic chapters and also because the book later became an inspirational stepping stone to the work of renowned writers such as Herman Melville and Jules Verne. One can see how Melville and Verne were tempted to take Poe’s vision a step further.

  12. 5 out of 5

    J.G. Keely

    There is something in the reader in me that constantly drives to seek out the unusual and inexplicable. Authors who try to achieve this effect deliberately are always a bore, for the same reason that a man who wears a tophat as an affectation is always infinitely dull compared to the man who wears one unselfconsciously. Iconoclasm may owe its birth to the need for difference, but any iconoclast who fails to find a deeper inspiration is a rudderless rebel. Difference is not, in itself, interesting There is something in the reader in me that constantly drives to seek out the unusual and inexplicable. Authors who try to achieve this effect deliberately are always a bore, for the same reason that a man who wears a tophat as an affectation is always infinitely dull compared to the man who wears one unselfconsciously. Iconoclasm may owe its birth to the need for difference, but any iconoclast who fails to find a deeper inspiration is a rudderless rebel. Difference is not, in itself, interesting or useful. It is only when a natural wellspring of inexplicable inspiration is yoked to an accessible sense of style and form that something remarkable can be set loose upon the world. Once this unusual child has been encountered, the reader seeks to meet him again and again, often frequenting dark alleys, sarsen rings, harem gardens, and remote starboard tacks, hoping that by patronizing the demesne of strangeness, the denizens of strangeness might be more readily found. Of course, strangeness has no truly familiar bower, and may crop up in the most mundane of places, and at the most unexpected times, so that after a fruitless week of searching for dark gods in cyclopean atolls, one is finally discovered in your wardrobe. Strangeness must be waited out, arriving and departing in its own ready time. Poe is often invoked as a font of strangeness, but there is always something of an affectation about him. His poems are particularly guilty, since by reading one after the other, you can find the same rampant breed of domestic strangeness squeezing under the trochees and nibbling at synonyms for 'gloom'. In his poetry, Poe's morbidity is often too refined, too usual, and rarely surprising. His short stories show some of the same threadbare symptoms, where images, actions, feelings, and plot elements are mulched, composted, and re-sodded as Poe twists back on himself, thumbing through the familiar seeds of his obsessions. But like Peake and Bierce, Poe is capable of achieving the immaculate prose structure of the failed poet. He is nowhere as consistent as those two amazingly unusual men, but the grove of his imagination is certainly worth a few good strolls. Though you see evidence of it in his poetry, in his best prose, Poe differentiates himself even from quite impressive writers when he engages in his passion for esoterica. His use of details, facts, and forms taken from life and placed in unusual, unpredictable world lends his worlds a particular kind of credibility. Like Conrad, it is the real experiences which, as they frame the story, produce a sturdy setting for the gem to be crafted. The horror and strangeness need not be as remarkable when they are contrasted against a vivid world. A real world lends even the smallest odd turn a sort of believability that makes it more frightening than an overstated element of shock set in a less involved world. Curious about this story is that Poe's real world facts are often more remarkable and surprising than his departures. Perhaps it shouldn't be unexpected, since truth is always stranger than fiction, but it's rare to find an author who is able to present the strangeness of both at once. Unfortunately, Poe's realism here is often more overstated than subtle, moving in distinct sections. So, we get a short adventure, then a long period of slowly-building psychological horror, then an impersonal summary of nautical miscellanea. Poe might have more equally mixed his different styles instead of making them conspicuous by their separation. The story takes the general form of the adventure narrative journal, as was so popular among the Sea Stories from which Poe's novella so clearly descends. This allows him leeway to include stories unrelated to the narrative itself, to break off into long digressions about nautical matters, and then, finally, to veer into the sort of unbelievable fish story that balances half-truths and legends into something too strange to believe, but too appealing not to repeat. These sorts of stories have passed for truth, at one time or another, and been written into our very histories. The works of Marco Polo have no corresponding part in the diligent annals of Chinese history, suggesting he was no more an adventurer than Mandeville before him, and yet both of them were History, at least, for a time. Poe's story also forms a part of our literary history, paving the way for the mix of horror and science fiction practiced by both Kipling and Lovecraft. Both of their styles profited from Poe's example, sometimes palpably, though their stories were more focused and cohesive. In this unique story, Poe evokes something of both contemporaries Jules Verne and Herman Melville, though tellingly, Melville's autobiographical tales are sometimes stranger than the force of Poe's imagination, even with a passion for unpredictable strangeness to bolster it. Poe's attempted novel is enjoyable and formative, but like much of his work, does not stand out above the wealth of unusual fiction of his busy century, and is an unpracticed mess compared to the men who took up the torch after him and refined horror into something much more structured, unsettling, and unusual.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Alex

    Pym is a great delirious fever nightmare of a novel, barely a novel at all, influencing everything from Moby-Dick to Lovecraft. It shares with Treasure Island an archetypal feel: when Poe describes being lost at sea and debating cannibalism, you think, "So this is where my brain got that image from." It's fairly insane, as books go. There's Poe's usual fascination with being buried alive, and as thrilling a description of vertigo as I've ever read. He seems to have had no particular structure in Pym is a great delirious fever nightmare of a novel, barely a novel at all, influencing everything from Moby-Dick to Lovecraft. It shares with Treasure Island an archetypal feel: when Poe describes being lost at sea and debating cannibalism, you think, "So this is where my brain got that image from." It's fairly insane, as books go. There's Poe's usual fascination with being buried alive, and as thrilling a description of vertigo as I've ever read. He seems to have had no particular structure in mind; he hated the idea of novels and wrote this one for money. He changes gears at will. The dog Tiger appears from nowhere and disappears to nowhere. And then there's that ending. It's racist as hell. I mean, the evil black cook and jabbering natives would be bad enough on their own but that's just scratching the surface here: the entire book is about black and white, black representing everything uncivilized and evil and amply personified by black people. The book itself is in black and white. Not shades of grey: monochrome. Antichrome. Those jabbering natives, like, when someone's white shirt brushes a guy's face he's like "Oh God no, white stuff!" (Tekeli-li!) The water on their island is dark purple. It reminded me of that line from Third Bass's classic Gas Face:Black cat is bad luck, bad guys wear black: Musta been a white guy who started all that.Poe was himself badly racist, pro-slavery, so let's not fool ourselves here. But it is also true that Pym as a narrator is an asshole, and the native chief Too-Wit's response to white explorers is entirely reasonable (as Mat Johnson points out in his book Pym) and the only other competent character in the book is Dirk Peters, who's Native American by way of black, and...I don't know, the racism here didn't bother me as much as it might have, somehow. I mean, I'm bumping it down a star because I facepalmed several times, but...Poe himself bothers me. This book doesn't. But speaking of black vs. white, let's talk about this ending here (with no plot spoilers but a feel spoiler), one of the most surprising endings in literature. When I got to it I thought my edition was screwed up somehow - "Where's the rest of it?" It's like someone told Poe how many words are in a novel, and when he got to that many he just dropped the mic. But I like it, honestly. It feels right. Some endings wrap everything up and yet you feel dissatisfied; but some books do what they need to do and then quit, and this is that type.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Nancy Oakes

    Read in April. for plot, etc. you can go here ; otherwise, as usual, read on. Since the first time I read this book some years ago, I've done a lot of reading about it and I've discovered that even Poe scholars can't agree on what to make of it. Dana D. Nelson in her The Word in Black and White: Reading "Race" in American Literature, 1638-1867 notes that "Readings of Pym range widely, from psychoanalytic exploration to social satire, from self-referential commentary on writing (or reading) to a m Read in April. for plot, etc. you can go here ; otherwise, as usual, read on. Since the first time I read this book some years ago, I've done a lot of reading about it and I've discovered that even Poe scholars can't agree on what to make of it. Dana D. Nelson in her The Word in Black and White: Reading "Race" in American Literature, 1638-1867 notes that "Readings of Pym range widely, from psychoanalytic exploration to social satire, from self-referential commentary on writing (or reading) to a metacritical demonstration of utter absence of meaning. Those commenting on the text apparently cannot reach any consensus or 'thrust toward uniformity,'..." Depending on which/whose critique/analysis you read, Poe's Pym is either a seagoing take on the American push for frontier expansion, an interior journey into the self, a quest novel (vis-a-vis Harold Bloom's definition, mentioned in this edition's introduction, [27]) a "jeremiad of the evils of slavery" or "covert statement of Southern racist ideology" [29], and it has even been noted as (in part) a story of thwarted colonialism (from Mat Johnson's hilarious novel Pym). Author Toni Morrison also argues re Poe's work that "no early American writer is more important to the concept of American Africanism than Poe" because of the "focus on the symbolism of black and white in Poe's novel." The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym is a strange but interesting little book. According to that online font of knowledge called Wikipedia, Poe himself called this "a silly little book," and in some ways he's definitely right. It is way over the top and as another GR reviewer puts it, the "elephant in the room" of racism is definitely there. [as an aside, whether Poe was/was not a racist is still a matter of debate in scholarly circles.] After having read it, I can see why there are so many different interpretations of this novel (you can also add in bildungsroman), but in my opinion, no matter how you read it, it is much like many of Poe's other works, largely concerned with confronting the self in terms of other (if nothing else, the scene where he is disguised as a a dead man and can't recognize himself in the mirror is a huge clue), and the destabilization of the self that follows as a result. In the end, though I believe it's a novel best appreciated on an individual basis -- I mean, seriously, if vast numbers of scholars over the last 100-plus years can't agree about the nature of Pym, how can there be any definitive interpretation? ** A brief word about this book: for anyone remotely interested in further studies of Poe's Pym, this particular edition from Broadview Press is a good place to start. The narrative is extensively footnoted, and there are three appendices -- "Sources for the Novel", "Contemporary Reviews," and "Other Writers' Responses to Pym" (Melville, Beaudelaire, Jules Verne, and Henry James). It also has an extensive bibliography and even a map of Pym's travels.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Shawn

    As I'm due for a massive Poe re-read sometime in the next 2 years or so, I figured I'd at least polish off the one Poe work (outside of essays and a lot of his poetry) which I've never read. As usual, I tend not to do in-depth reviews for classics (as I feel more could be gained from reading experts' thoughts on the work) but, on the other hand, I will probably stick with my three-tiered review system, for those who haven't read the book or who aren't interested in some in-depth commentary. TIER As I'm due for a massive Poe re-read sometime in the next 2 years or so, I figured I'd at least polish off the one Poe work (outside of essays and a lot of his poetry) which I've never read. As usual, I tend not to do in-depth reviews for classics (as I feel more could be gained from reading experts' thoughts on the work) but, on the other hand, I will probably stick with my three-tiered review system, for those who haven't read the book or who aren't interested in some in-depth commentary. TIER ONE REVIEW This book, Poe's only novel, is something like a sea-adventure in the mold of classics like Treasure Island or Moby-Dick or, The Whale - but, that is, a sea-adventure written by a man notorious for his melancholia, alcoholism, and his fascination with the grotesque, lurid and macabre. It is also notorious for having an "unsatisfying" ending - as the narrative builds to a heightened pitch, and then breaks off. But I didn't find that to be much of a problem. Who would enjoy reading this? Fans of classic sea-adventures might enjoy this very morbid take on the same, dealing as it does with some of the worst extremes one can encounter at sea. Poe fans should check it out as well, and general horror fans who have a taste for 19th Century writing styles should give it a try. The average reader? Hard to say, the ending may make your average reader feel as if they have been put through a ringer for the sake of nothing, or a monstrous joke. TIER TWO REVIEW I honestly enjoyed reading this. Full of extremes of anguish, deprivation and terror, and with an unexpected detour near the end into what can only be classed an early example of a "lost world" narrative, ARTHUR GORDON PYM, while episodic, is bracing and involving, exhausting and intriguing. The litany of harrowing events that turn ever darker may be familiar to a Poe reader, but also here are the occasional philosophical/psychological flashes that make Poe so interesting to the modern reader. You also get quite a bit of odd nautical lore/knowledge (how cargo is packed to reduce shifting, how Galapagos Turtles are thrown into holds of ships as an emergency source of food or water, the "lost" islands of the Auroras, etc.) and an ending that....well, you have to experience it yourself. Worth your time if you're a horror fan or just want to read something about 19th Century sailing that is thoroughly atypical from the norm. THIRD TIER REVIEW (some general spoilers) Arthur Gordon Pym relates to us his harrowing adventures at sea and at the south pole, culminating in an unresolved mystery. That he begins the tale describing a youthful misadventure in which a friend cajoles Pym into a high-spirited, late-night pleasure cruise on a small craft, only for the friend to eventually reveal himself to be so drunk that he passes out as they careen through the windy night towards certain death in a nautical collision - well, that's pure Poe. For as Pym points out, he SHOULD have come out of that youthful event with a fear of ships and the sea, but instead found that the worst aspects of the experience faded with time, while the perverse excitement of the exercise stayed with him as a fascination. And so, he contrives to go to sea! That "imp of the perverse" aspect, common to Poe, appears here in a few more forms, but the involvement of alcohol in the initial event is worth noting. So, Pym has his friend smuggle him aboard a cargo vessel, secreted in a interstitial space below deck, to be brought above when the vehicle has advanced so far as to make returning him too much of a bother. As I said above, the book is episodic, and this experience in the hold, with only a small amount of food and water, makes up a good portion of the start. As events progress, you will be treated to bloodthirsty mutiny, ravaging storms, deprivation when marooned at sea, the "awful choice" of men starving and dehydrated, and then even further, an exploration into the (then) mysterious and uncharted Antarctic seas, which reveal a strange land (oddly peopled), and then an even further journey south, seemingly beyond the actual world itself! What impresses about all this is how Poe's traditional concerns and obsessions arise again and again. That "imp of the perverse" returns during a cliff-climbing sequence near the book's climax, as Pym is overcome with vertigo and an unstoppable urge for self-destruction. Classic Poe scenarios are envisioned in new forms - Pym might as well be "buried alive" in the hold of the ship, fevered and forgotten in pitch darkness, groping through a maze of small passages as he passes from dream to waking and back again during his immurement. The "return of the dead" is evident in a marvelous sequence in which, to distract mutineers, Pym adopts the disguise of a rotting corpse to appear vengefully and unexpectedly in their midst. The vast natural force of the sea (as in "The Descent Into The Maelstrom") here punishes Pym and his beleaguered compatriots. And, as in "Ms. Found In A Bottle", the sea-voyage itself becomes a metaphysical enterprise to push back the boundaries of human knowledge and understanding, into shadowy, symbolic realms... Atypical for Poe is the section set in "Tslal" (Thomas Ligotti fans should hear a bell strike), an unknown country at the bottom of the world, which is both a combination of straight ahead adventure (which brought to mind some of The Boats of the Glen Carrig) and proto-science-fiction (peopled with seemingly benign savages, the land also seems to exhibit odd quirks in physics, with weird water and strange monsters). In truth, in this section one can feel Poe kind of stretching out of his usual environs of writing (whether successfully or unsuccessfully is up to the reader). The fact that the vast wastelands and dangers of ocean travel allow Poe to exercise his tendencies towards morbidity by creating awful (but realistically plausible) scenarios of violence and deprivation (there's a lot of "survival horror" here, full of anguish and hopelessness) is also kind of interesting - Poe exercises a fascination with the fears allied with sea-travel known from classical narratives and culture (mutiny, "Raft of the Medusa", plague ship scenarios), with a feeling of the isolation of the ocean serving as a kind of "blank canvas" on which amoral acts and awful, unfair events can transpire under the eye of God. I even saw echoes of the "exploring the underwater planetarium" bits from J.G. Ballard's The Drowned World, in the sequence where the men on the floundering ship blindly dive into the flooded storerooms to rescue food and drink. One of the best sequences - (view spoiler)[where the marooned travelers, starving and dehydrated, sight a ship approaching with a nodding figure at the rail, only to discover it is a ship of dead bodies - possible killed by plague or food poisoning, and the "nodding figure" is a propped up corpse, its head being fed on by a sea gull! (hide spoiler)] - is so monstrously morbid and dark I was shocked by its effectiveness. Similarly, the sequence (view spoiler)[ in which Pym is chosen to manufacture and hold the straws to be drawn to decide who will be killed and eaten, and struggles with the unthinkable immorality of the act, while wrestling over how he might rig the event so as to not be chosen (hide spoiler)] is grueling in its psychological insight and terror. The major flaw of the book (setting aside the controversy of the ambiguous ending) lies in its episodic quality - as I said above, events keep getting worse up to a certain point, but when they are resolved, it feels as if Poe has just tired of the direction the narrative was going and so "set course" somewhere else, with very little effect shown on the characters who suffered these events, or reflection upon them (and some of these events would no doubt have driven men mad or scarred them for life). The narrative goes from being subjective (Pym trapped in his coffin-like box in the hold, delirious, emerges above deck into a larger world of danger, violence and action. But the ship itself becomes a kind of coffin for a time) to objective (focusing more on action and description) and one feels the thread is somewhat lost. But not entirely - and it is to Poe's credit that he steers the narrative to strange new directions, even if the navigation is a bit clumsy. And then there's the phantasmagorical ending. Initially, I found it as jarringly abrupt as all previous readers (although I was lucky enough to know it was coming), but on some reflection I grew to enjoy its evocative, ominous mystery (hot milky white water, numbness and lassitude) even though it is kind of a cheat. (view spoiler)[Many have taken the intention to illustrate Poe's readings of Adam Seaborn's "Hollow Earth" narrative Symzonia: A Voyage of Discovery, although I think this may be too literal - it feels as if Pym and company have, at this point, almost ventured off the real world and into a symbolic realm - although how they survived beyond that would be anyone's guess (hide spoiler)] . There have been sequels and parallel works written attempting to address this "lack" in the narrative - Le Sphinx des glaces by Jules Verne, A Strange Discovery by Charles Romyn Dake, Conquête de l'Eternal by Dominique Andre, Last Call by Harry Mulisch, The Hollow Earth: The Narrative of Mason Algiers Reynolds of Virginia by Rudy Rucker - but I find it more effective that no answer is ever given. The racial aspects and symbolism of "Tslal" and the ending have been commented on by Toni Morrison (in Playing in the Dark: Whiteness and the Literary Imagination) and in Mat Johnson's novel Pym. So, a fine, interesting read! Those looking for a related laugh may enjoy this scene with Harold Ramis from an early episode of SCTV. Ramis is here playing Moe Green, the station manager and all-around cheapskate, who has contrived a contest for the Late Show that hopefully can never be won by the listeners. Starts at 22:00! DIALING FOR DOLLARS' impossibly unlikely winning question

  16. 5 out of 5

    Thomas Stroemquist

    OK, OK, I picked it, but I shouldn't carry all the guilt! For my and Edward's first buddy read of the year, I really felt for a classic and, due to our unusually late-in-the-month start, we had decided on one not overly long. So those were the constraints - or so I thought. My research into all and every one of my ingenious choices ended with Edward's detailed review of the book. So, he deserves some of the blame for deliberately narrowing the possible choices by reading so many books. So there. OK, OK, I picked it, but I shouldn't carry all the guilt! For my and Edward's first buddy read of the year, I really felt for a classic and, due to our unusually late-in-the-month start, we had decided on one not overly long. So those were the constraints - or so I thought. My research into all and every one of my ingenious choices ended with Edward's detailed review of the book. So, he deserves some of the blame for deliberately narrowing the possible choices by reading so many books. So there. By some unfortunate event, I stumbled upon "Pym" and, after finding out that it was not in either Tales of Mystery and Imagination or Selected Tales, I realized that I most likely never read it. First thing to do is to settle in with the never-ending sentences and colorful descriptions that is 19th century prose - not to mention the theatricality of character actions and reactions; Pym, in disguise, meets his uncle on the docks. Since he wishes to stay undetected, he denies being who he is, counting on the uncles poor eyesight to be enough for him to doubt his conclusion. When told that the man he met is not his nephew the uncle doesn't react in the modern fashion: "Sorry, my mistake", but in the old-fashioned way: "He started back two or three steps, turned first pale and then excessively red, threw up his spectacles, then, putting them down, ran full tilt at me, with his umbrella uplifted"... Anyways, Pym goes to sea, first a tentative and badly ending try on his own boat and later as a stowaway on his friends father's ship. The first story feels a bit like a warm-up, but the second one is a very chilling and effective story on horrors of the sea. Almost 2/3rds of the book is really good. Unfortunately, since Poe was obviously determined to take the step to novel-writing, the last third - following what should have (and would have in any other story) been the climax - offers a disjointed and unengaging story of southward exploration. It actually drags the first and very much better part down with it and made the book as a whole of less interest. To top it off, we get a bail-out ending that makes zero sense (actually, the last part feels like a never-ending serial of old, that really doesn't hold together and then the author just quit). I don't think the ending works with the prologue at all, but I can't be bothered to go back and re-read any of this. In conclusion; sorry about this Edward, my friend. There are upsides though - buddy reads are always fun and, especially when he dislikes a book, Edward's review will surely be both entertaining and interesting, so check it out!

  17. 5 out of 5

    Amitaf0208

    i enjoyed this book very much. 4.5 stars.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Sandy

    In his short story entitled “Ms. Found in a Bottle” (1833), author Edgar Allan Poe told a tale of shipwreck on the high seas, following the mother of all storms. Along with one other survivor, our narrator drifts helplessly on the surface of the water, later encountering what seems to be a ghost ship, on which he climbs aboard, only to be swept toward the south polar regions and to an unknown fate. Flash forward five years, and Poe has now enlarged on some of this story's set pieces and themes, In his short story entitled “Ms. Found in a Bottle” (1833), author Edgar Allan Poe told a tale of shipwreck on the high seas, following the mother of all storms. Along with one other survivor, our narrator drifts helplessly on the surface of the water, later encountering what seems to be a ghost ship, on which he climbs aboard, only to be swept toward the south polar regions and to an unknown fate. Flash forward five years, and Poe has now enlarged on some of this story's set pieces and themes, and turned them into the long-form work known as "The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket." Although Poe would ultimately write 50 poems (Poe-ems?), 68 short stories, and reams of literary criticism before his premature death at age 40, "The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket" was his only novel. Its first few chapters initially appeared in "The Southern Literary Messenger," the Richmond, Virginia publication where Poe worked as editor; the novel itself first appeared in 1838, sans Poe’s name on the title page, and when the budding author was only 29. Poe's one and only novel did not do well and was critically ill received, but today, going on 200 years later, its classic reputation rests very solidly indeed. The book, apparently, was not only an inspiration for Herman Melville's "Moby-Dick" (1851), but also for Jules Verne, who was moved to write a sequel, and for H.P. Lovecraft, whose "At the Mountains of Madness" (1936) is clearly indebted to Poe's work here. My main reason for reading Poe's novel at this time, however, other than its classic and influential status, is the fact that it has been chosen for inclusion in Cawthorn & Moorcock's excellent overview volume "Fantasy: The 100 Best Books," a reference work that I tend to use as a reading syllabus/checklist. And I'm so glad that I did! As would be expected, the book takes the form of an extended narrative of a Nantucket schoolboy named Pym, who tells us here of the adventures he had subsequent to stowing away on the whaler Grampus. His best friend Augustus Barnard, whose father was the ship's captain, smuggled him on board, and hid him in the cargo hold belowdecks, where poor Pym was trapped within pitch darkness for two weeks, and with scanty food and water, foul air, and his increasingly deranged dog, Tiger. But Pym's lot only became worse after being freed from the hold. The Grampus had been taken over by a band of cutthroat mutineers, who had either killed or put overboard the entire ship’s complement! Pym, Augustus, Tiger, and the diminutive but Herculean Indian half-breed Dirk Peters managed to eliminate the mutineers, only to face days of hurricane-force winds, weeks of thirst and starvation, the imminent threat of hungry sharks, the necessity of cannibalism, the capsizing of the Grampus, and then still more days at sea. Truly, a harrowing, horrendous ocean voyage for young Pym, although all firmly in the realm of the credible, with no fantasy elements whatsoever. It is only when Pym and Peters, the sole survivors, are rescued at sea by the schooner Jane Guy that Poe's novel/Pym's story veers off into the fantastic. The Jane Guy's crew, apparently, soon decided to explore the regions near and below the Antarctic Circle, only to have discovered strange forms of flora and fauna, and an island filled with a seemingly friendly clan of black people: black skin, black clothes, even black teeth. But that surface amiability on the part of the natives of the island of Tsalal was very short lived, indeed.... When "The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket" was initially released, without Poe's name attached to it, the book fooled many readers into the belief that the events described had actually happened to the young author Pym, and it is easy to see why. Poe invests so much detail and so many verifiable facts into his book that even the most skeptical of readers might find his/her incredulity being (like the Grampus itself) swept away. Poe, thus, regales us with travelogue bits (for example, the history of the Kerguelen Islands in the south Indian Ocean), gives us some natural history information (everything you'll likely ever need to know about the nesting habits of the albatross, for example), provides precise compass readings of every obscure island visited (in case you ever decide to seek out the legendary Aurora Islands), tells us the complete history of south polar exploration (Captain Cook, James Weddell, Benjamin Morrell, etc.), and explains the precise method for preparing and preserving sea cucumbers. To further add authenticity, former Army sergeant-major Poe demonstrates an impressive knowledge of seamanship, including lengthy passages on the correct way to store cargo and how to "lay-to" the wind. Amusingly, Cawthorn & Moorcock refer to these stretches of factual exposition as "occasional Sargassoes," but somehow, this reader found it all pretty fascinating stuff (although I did find an unabridged dictionary and an atlas to be of invaluable assistance as I made my way through them). Ultimately, though, "The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket" does justify its claim to be included in the fantasy pantheon. Once in the Antarctic, those fantastic elements include the 3-foot-long, 6-inch-high, white-furred, scarlet-toothed (!) animal that the Jane Guy crew discovers; the black tribe on Tsalal; the oversized scorpions and reptiles (!!!) found near the South Pole; and the mysterious, multihued water that is met with on the natives' island. Elements of horror are also to be found here in abundance, including Pym's truly harrowing experience aboard the Grampus (belowdecks, with the mutineers, when facing storm and sharks and starvation), and most especially the scene in which lots are drawn to determine who will be sacrificed as a cannibal dinner for the others. In perhaps the book's most memorable scene, however, the Grampus encounters a Dutch ship of the literal dead (a Flying Dutchman reference?); not a ship comprised of ghosts, as in the 1833 short story, but rather, a ship filled with nothing but putrescent corpses, one of whom gives the semblance of a bow's figurehead from hell. For me, this book was both compelling and unputdownable; when I rush home from a day of proofreading and copyediting at work, yet still looking forward to picking up a book where I had left off the previous evening, that is a sure sign, indeed, of a grippingly well-told work. Having said that, though, I will confess that Poe's novel did present me with some problems. For one thing, the author seems to get some of his facts wrong on occasion. He tells us that the (real-life) brig Polly had been lost at sea from December 15th to June 20th, for a total of 191 days; shouldn't that be 188 days? He goes on and on describing the cohabitation proclivities of the albatross and penguin, yet later tells us that this co-nesting is a habit of the albatross and...the pelican? He tells us that Capt. Barnard was "in the employ of Lloyd and Vredenburgh," yet later, when a character named Vredenburgh falls overboard from the Jane Guy, nothing is made of the (what I'm guessing is a) coincidence. Perhaps worse is the fact that the fates of two of the characters, Tiger and Capt. Barnard, are left up in the air: Capt. Barnard is put into a rowboat by the mutineers, his ultimate fate not vouchsafed by the author, while the Newfoundland dog is simply written out of the story following his valiant fight with the mutineers. Was he lost at sea during the ensuing hurricane? Poe never deigns to tell us. And perhaps even worse is the egregious internal inconsistency regarding Augustus. Pym tells us of a tidbit that Augustus told him many years later...but how could this possibly have happened, since Augustus does not survive the Grampus ordeal?!?! And on a personal note, this reader could never properly envision the ravines, pits and gorges that Pym and Peters explore on Tsalal. As if in recognition of this potential problem for his readers, Poe supplies us with five explanatory diagrams, which help not a whit, and only served to confuse me more. Finally, as is generally known, "The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket" ends in a cliffhanger fashion, with Pym and Peters on the brink of discovering something momentous near the South Pole. This fact did not bother me; I actually liked the book ending with a sense of the cosmic unknowable, as in the William Hope Hodgson classic "The House on the Borderland" (1908). What did bother me is the fact that Pym supposedly makes it back to civilization (where his foreword was written) and then suddenly died; so why couldn’t "editor" Poe tell us what happened to him? It is all very strange, the cumulative effect being one of a very singular and mysterious experience, indeed. No wonder that Frenchman Jules Verne felt the necessity, in 1897, of trying to riddle out some of the story's manifold mysteries, in his 44th novel, "An Antarctic Mystery" (aka "The Sphinx of the Ice–Fields"). I am now going to have to get my hands on this Verne title one day. The conundrum of those Tsalalian hieroglyphics is, for me, just too much to ignore.... (By the way, this review originally appeared on the FanLit website at http://www.fantasyliterature.com/ ... a most ideal destination for all fans of Edgar Allan Poe....)

  19. 5 out of 5

    Paul Haspel

    Narrative is a strange and ambiguous thing in the work of Edgar Allan Poe. We never know, on the one hand, when the great author is being straightforward -- or, on the other hand, when he is having us on: playing a trick, ensnaring us in a hoax, or embedding a seemingly simple story in a hopelessly complex network of interlocking codes. Such is certainly the case in The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket (1838) – a sensation-laden sea adventure, and the only novel that Poe ever wrote. Ar Narrative is a strange and ambiguous thing in the work of Edgar Allan Poe. We never know, on the one hand, when the great author is being straightforward -- or, on the other hand, when he is having us on: playing a trick, ensnaring us in a hoax, or embedding a seemingly simple story in a hopelessly complex network of interlocking codes. Such is certainly the case in The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket (1838) – a sensation-laden sea adventure, and the only novel that Poe ever wrote. Arthur Gordon Pym. Edgar Allan Poe. The two names sound very much alike, and indeed Poe gives his character a number of Poe-esque traits. As Poe tells it, Pym is a somewhat rootless young man who longs above all else to participate in adventures at sea. His friend Augustus Bernard, a captain’s son who has been to sea himself, whets Pym’s appetite for nautical adventure; and even an initial misadventure off Nantucket, when Pym and Augustus take a small boat and make an ill-advised and alcohol-fueled foray out into stormy seas, does not slake Pym’s enthusiasm. Readers of Poe may think of the great author’s “Imp of the Perverse” (1845), his essay-turned-short-story invocation of the human wish for self-destruction, when they read of how Pym looked ahead to sea adventure. Pym tells us that he savoured “visions…of shipwreck and famine; of death or captivity among barbarian hordes; of a lifetime dragged out in sorrow and tears, upon some gray and desolate rock, in an ocean unapproachable and unknown.” Many of “these visions or desires…common, I have since been assured, to the whole numerous race of the melancholy among men” (p. 18) end up being fulfilled sometime in the course of The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym. Young Pym, his zest for sea life undiminished by his misadventure with Augustus off the Nantucket coast, arranges with Augustus to stow away in the hold of the brig Grampus, until the ship is too far from shore for him to be returned to land. But for some reason unknown to Pym, Augustus does not come to remove Pym from the hold at the appointed time, leaving Pym, for days, in a “buried alive” limbo that will sound familiar to readers of Poe stories like “The Premature Burial” (1844). All Augustus can do is get to Pym a note, tied to the back of Pym’s dog Tiger; and because sources of light in the hold are uncertain and fading, Pym can read only the words, “blood – your life depends upon lying close” (p. 39). As it turns out, the reason why Augustus writes the word “blood,” and emphasizes that Pym’s life “depends upon lying close,” is that there has been a mutiny aboard the Grampus, with the ship’s first mate, cook, and others taking control of the ship. Pym emphasizes the Gothic horrors of the mutiny: “A scene of the most horrible butchery ensued. The bound seamen were dragged to the gangway. Here the cook stood with an axe, striking each victim on the head as he was forced over the side of the vessel by the other mutineers. In this manner twenty-two perished” (p. 48). Augustus and the restored Pym plot to retake the ship from the mutineers, with the help of Dirk Peters, a part-Native American member of the crew who has repented of his part in the mutiny. And their attempt to retake the ship is successful! But a succession of brutal storms, striking a ship that has too few people to crew it, causes all of the ship’s masts and sails to be carried away; and the Grampus is reduced to a hulk, floating at random amid the blue wastes of the sea, with Pym, Augustus, and Dirk Peters facing the prospect of death by slow starvation. This portion of Arthur Gordon Pym contains some of the most striking images in the book. One example of the power of this part of the novel occurs when the castaways see a ship in the distance, and believe joyously that they are to be rescued – only to discover to their horror, as the ship passes close by, that it is a Flying Dutchman-style ship of the dead, crewed only by corpses: “Shall I ever forget the triple horror of that spectacle? Twenty-five or thirty human bodies, among whom were several females, lay scattered about between the counter and the galley, in the last and most loathsome state of putrefaction! We plainly saw that not a soul lived in that fated vessel! Yet we could not help shouting to the dead for help!” (p. 101) It is also in this part of the book that Pym and his companions face the prospect of the ultimate horror of cannibalism. Eventually, the surviving castaways are rescued by the topsail schooner Jane Guy, and Pym provides the reader with a bit of tutelage in the intricacies of Antarctic exploration – drawn by Poe from the narratives of various explorers of his day – as the captain of the Jane Guy decides “to push on towards the pole” (p. 150). The water gets warmer, not colder, as the schooner makes its way farther and farther south, until the crew make their way to a land called Tsalal, where the indigenous population seems friendly – at first. Propelled even farther southward after things go badly with the Tsalalians, Pym and Dirk Peters take a canoe and make their way down toward a tremendous cataract at the South Pole; and the novel concludes with an image that is as compelling as it is cryptic: “And now we rushed into the embraces of the cataract, where a chasm threw itself open to receive us. But there arose in our pathway a shrouded human figure, very far larger in its proportions than any dweller among men. And the hue of the skin of the figure was of the perfect whiteness of the snow.” (p. 217) On that singularly uncertain and unhelpful (if evocative) note, the novel ends. Poe does assure his readers elsewhere – in a note that affects to explain how he as editor secured Pym’s manuscript – that Pym did make it back to civilization to tell his story; but how Pym supposedly did so is not made at all clear. That unsolved mystery led Jules Verne to write his own sequel to Arthur Gordon Pym, with the title of Le Sphinx des Glaces (The Sphinx of the Ice Fields) (1897); and it has led critics into all sorts of flights of imaginative interpretation. Richard Kopley of Penn State DuBois, who provides scholarly commentary for this Penguin Classics edition of Pym, valiantly offers an ingenious reading of the novel’s conclusion – one that would impose a sort of unity on this seemingly dis-unified novel – but I think the interpretation may be something simpler. We all know that Poe, at this portion of his life, was desperately poor and overworked – laboring away at ill-paying editorial jobs, trying desperately to secure some precious time in which to write. Moreover, his literary sensibility, so well-suited to the poem and the short story and the essay, may not have lent itself to the longer form of the novel. If Arthur Gordon Pym has an unfinished quality to it, that may be because Poe tried the novelistic form, found that it didn’t work for him, and turned his mind and his talent to other projects. Yet this Narrative remains a rich story of adventure, filled with compelling episodes, and reflecting everything from Poe’s fascination with codebreaking to Poe’s often troubling attitudes regarding race. Any reader of 19th-century American literature who engages to travel along with Arthur Gordon Pym will find him- or herself on one hell of an extraordinary voyage.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Vivian

    DNF 65% Pulling the plug on this. I love Poe, or rather, I love his short stories. He just doesn't translate well into full length novels, too much repetition and descriptive exposition to keep interest. This worked out better for me as a sleep aid than a tale. "The body from which it had been taken, resting as it did upon the rope, had been easily swayed to and from by the exertions of the carnivorous bird , and it was this motion which had at first impressed us with the belief of its being a DNF 65% Pulling the plug on this. I love Poe, or rather, I love his short stories. He just doesn't translate well into full length novels, too much repetition and descriptive exposition to keep interest. This worked out better for me as a sleep aid than a tale. "The body from which it had been taken, resting as it did upon the rope, had been easily swayed to and from by the exertions of the carnivorous bird , and it was this motion which had at first impressed us with the belief of its being alive." --This was the lure that kept me reading in hopes of uncovering another such gem. *sigh* When you think you're going one place, In the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex based story, only to find out you were misinformed and it's really more influenced by Address on the Subject of a Surveying and Exploring Expedition to the Pacific Ocean and South Seas. I guess I'll read it for the cannibalism. There's no way to make that boring, or is there? I mean, it's not a cookbook. Even then, there are exciting ways of presenting it.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Jim

    For the first two-thirds of this, the only novel written by Edgar Allan Poe,, we have an interesting, but not entirely atypical, sea voyage complete with a stowaway (the narrator), a mutiny, a tale of survival on the open sea, and a rescue. It is only when the rescuing vessel goes farther south than any other vessel has gone before that The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket becomes a Poe creation. Pym describes the notion below a certain Antarctic latitude as becoming warmer rather tha For the first two-thirds of this, the only novel written by Edgar Allan Poe,, we have an interesting, but not entirely atypical, sea voyage complete with a stowaway (the narrator), a mutiny, a tale of survival on the open sea, and a rescue. It is only when the rescuing vessel goes farther south than any other vessel has gone before that The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket becomes a Poe creation. Pym describes the notion below a certain Antarctic latitude as becoming warmer rather than colder. Once the ice floes have been passed, they come upon a primitive people who turn treacherous. In the end, he sails through milky-white hot water where a kind of ash is falling. And then ... (I do not intend to divulge the ending.) The novel is incomplete with Poe offering an afterword. Pym and his companion Peters survive, but they never finished telling the story to Poe, who talks about publishing it in The Southern Messenger, for which he actually wrote.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Mary-jane

    To tell the truth I expected something better from the first novel of my favourite horror stories author.Unfortunately,it failed to creep me,it triggered my disgust instead.However,there was some moments which sended shivers to the spine. If you truly want to be introduced to Poe's work read his short stories.If you won't be stunned,at least you will be pleasantly surprised!!! To tell the truth I expected something better from the first novel of my favourite horror stories author.Unfortunately,it failed to creep me,it triggered my disgust instead.However,there was some moments which sended shivers to the spine. If you truly want to be introduced to Poe's work read his short stories.If you won't be stunned,at least you will be pleasantly surprised!!!

  23. 4 out of 5

    Sara

    3.5 stars. Who knew Poe could write about life at sea with the same kind of detail and description as Melville. I could feel the terror of the storm at sea and the desperation of being adrift. The story became a bit laborious at times, but for the most part it was exciting and Poe didn't miss a good opportunity to include his favorite theme of the horror of being buried alive. 3.5 stars. Who knew Poe could write about life at sea with the same kind of detail and description as Melville. I could feel the terror of the storm at sea and the desperation of being adrift. The story became a bit laborious at times, but for the most part it was exciting and Poe didn't miss a good opportunity to include his favorite theme of the horror of being buried alive.

  24. 4 out of 5

    John

    Surprisingly, this is Poe's most compulsively readable work, and I would have given it five stars, except for the lack of an ending, moments of sheer unbelievability, and the occasional ultra-boring chapter describing various animals or islands. As far as the ending goes, apparently Jules Verne wrote a sequel, so I will be able to have closure on the story eventually. This may not be one of Poe's most artistic works, but I found it to be his most suspenseful story, ironically despite its being a Surprisingly, this is Poe's most compulsively readable work, and I would have given it five stars, except for the lack of an ending, moments of sheer unbelievability, and the occasional ultra-boring chapter describing various animals or islands. As far as the ending goes, apparently Jules Verne wrote a sequel, so I will be able to have closure on the story eventually. This may not be one of Poe's most artistic works, but I found it to be his most suspenseful story, ironically despite its being an adventure tale and not his usual horror fare. It is quite gruesome in places, however, and not recommended for the squeamish. It's Poe's only novel, and I'm already lamenting the fact he didn't write more. His short stories were memorable, and good for setting a mood, but generally not as much fun as Pym. In the novel, Poe, never shy about repeating himself thematically, once again falls back on scenes of people being buried alive or slowly driven insane...but here is the one instance where Poe's characters (some of them anyway) are actually able to escape or recover from such dire circumstances. A classic maritime adventure novel.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Dean

    Intended by Poe as an adventure story, "The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket" shows clearly the sinister and darker shades of Poes personality and character!!! Near starvation, claustrophobia, cannibalism, mass murder, and mutiny are a few of the themes which are dealt with in this very strange, unequalled, and outstanding work.. Indeed it is a unique of its kind novelette!!! I still can remember the first time I read it, it was in my early years as a teenager and I was so impressed that Intended by Poe as an adventure story, "The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket" shows clearly the sinister and darker shades of Poes personality and character!!! Near starvation, claustrophobia, cannibalism, mass murder, and mutiny are a few of the themes which are dealt with in this very strange, unequalled, and outstanding work.. Indeed it is a unique of its kind novelette!!! I still can remember the first time I read it, it was in my early years as a teenager and I was so impressed that afterwards nothing was the same again.. Edgar Allan Poes name is a genuine trademark, and he stands like none other for his darker gothic tales and short stories filled with horror and sarcasm.. Happy readings Dean;)

  26. 5 out of 5

    Quirkyreader

    It was a very descriptive story. I will admit though at times I felt like I was reading Herman Melville stories. The companion stories that were chosen to go along with the main narrative fit rather well.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Nick

    Rebellious, enigmatic teen Arthur Gordon Pym is a stowaway aboard his friend's father's whaling vessel. His friend, Augustus, hides him in storage, bringing him food and drink until the ship is far enough from port that Pym can show his face and the captain will have no choice but to make him part of the crew. All's going according to plan, when (record scratch) there's a mutiny which results in the death of everyone aboard except Augustus, the hidden Pym, and the mutineers. One of the mutineers Rebellious, enigmatic teen Arthur Gordon Pym is a stowaway aboard his friend's father's whaling vessel. His friend, Augustus, hides him in storage, bringing him food and drink until the ship is far enough from port that Pym can show his face and the captain will have no choice but to make him part of the crew. All's going according to plan, when (record scratch) there's a mutiny which results in the death of everyone aboard except Augustus, the hidden Pym, and the mutineers. One of the mutineers has pangs of conscience and agrees to wage a counter-mutiny with Augustus and Pym. Then lots of whacky stuff happens. At first I was puzzled that the only novel of the beloved E.A.P. was so under-read, but upon reading it is clear: it's not a very good novel. In fact, it may not be a novel at all; Poe didn't seem to consider it one. Instead it's an exercise in verisimilitude, a mock sea narrative written in the hopes of punking the public into thinking it factual and the critics into thinking it profound. When Poe is doing his thang and writing hallucinatory episodes of living burials, bloody mutinies, ghost ships, cannibalism aboard an adrift vessel, fending off mutant polar bears (?), etc., it's all good, but his attempt to keep up the ruse of a factual account means pages and pages of descriptions of weather and "most unusual species of birds, among which could be spotted", like, seventeen species, all of which Poe felt the need to name. That's a common problem in adventure novels even today. Dan Brown (feel free to burn me in effigy for making the comparison) would be far more readable if he didn't copy and paste the Wikipedia article for every building Tom Hanks sets foot in on his "unputdownable race against time" (New York Times). My Penguin Classic edition assures me it's more than an adventure novel. It's actually an allegory--no, wait, it's two allegories! The first allegory is entirely personal; Augustus represents Poe's brother, a certain ship his mother, and so on, to which I say: who cares? This is interesting to those interested in Poe, but to any reader in the 1840's (and most readers today) this does not dramatize the work any more than an in-joke would be funny to an outsider. The other "allegory" at work is biblical: Augustus is Jesus, a certain ship represents the second coming of Jesus, and so on. There are certainly religious overtones to the work, but the editor's attempt to piece together a coherent, Fairie Queene-ian, X=a allegory in this mess is futile. (To reference a certain incident, it's grasping at straws.) Poe himself called it a "silly book." Still, Pym's constant suffering recalls Job, and is sometimes (in the cannibalism episode particularly) moving. The closing passages are as overtly religious as "Pym" gets, and the final paragraph transcends the rest of the book. Explicably, Poe's British publisher omitted it, since it is strange and ambiguous, but it was a mistake. Borges called this Poe's greatest work, but of course Borges would call a cryptic, allusionary, slightly overwrought fantasia Poe's best. ***************************************** Some of the endnotes our distinguished scholar, Mr. Kopley, have provided are amusing in their contortions. Some examples: "The phrase 'heavy cross sea', not found in [Poe's] source passage, may well constitute an allusion to Jesus bearing the cross." "Poe uses his own birthday for the date of the discovery of the island of Tsalal, thus calling attention to the covertly personal nature of his novel." [Why would he call attention to it if it was covert?] "Pym's experiencing 'one of those fits of perverseness' anticipates Poe's further development of the theme of human perverseness, as in the 1846 tale 'The Imp of the Perverse.'" "Pym's stating that '…we could not help shouting to the dead for help!' may be Poe's allusion to his novel's serving as a literary reaching toward his lost mother and brother." [Yeah, reaching is a good word.] [A real howler:] "The death of thirty of the thirty-two men who were 'armed to the teeth' suggests to John Limon the loss of individual 'identities.' Liliane Weissberg has discussed this pun with regard to 'Berenice.'" [!!!]

  28. 5 out of 5

    Elizabeth (Alaska)

    The users who shelved this as horror surely did so based on Poe's reputation. On the other hand, I'm not a horror reader, so I may not be the most reliable observer. For me, this was all over the place genre-wise. Some have shelved it adventure, and I would agree with that. I could also see it as travel and certainly as fantasy. First and last it is a sea story. I would also place it in the realm of Murphy's Law: What Can Go Wrong, Will Go Wrong. (Yes, caps, and I could have written that in bold The users who shelved this as horror surely did so based on Poe's reputation. On the other hand, I'm not a horror reader, so I may not be the most reliable observer. For me, this was all over the place genre-wise. Some have shelved it adventure, and I would agree with that. I could also see it as travel and certainly as fantasy. First and last it is a sea story. I would also place it in the realm of Murphy's Law: What Can Go Wrong, Will Go Wrong. (Yes, caps, and I could have written that in bold italics underlined!) The novel opens with Pym accompanying his inebriated friend to sail a small boat at midnight. They get run over by a larger ship. We know they will be rescued - this is written in the first person after the event! But there is another ship and another journey and more mishaps. Mishaps is an understatement. First one tragedy and then another befalls Arthur Gordon Pym. I am told this is Poe's only novel. Perhaps he was experimenting with the form. Although I have read only his The Murders in the Rue Morgue: The Dupin Tales, I think most readers will be glad he stuck with the short story and, perhaps, his poetry. He seemed not to know how to organize a longer work. Or perhaps he suffered from ADD, or even the effects of alcohol, in which he was known to partake heavily. This is short, although perhaps not as short as some of the print editions here on GR advertise. Those must be in the tiniest type ever to grace a printed page. Even though there are frequent references of the latitude and longitude of antarctic islands, I had no problem with this. There is enough story to keep one reading, even such a fantastical one. For me, though, I need my reading more reality based and I just couldn't bring myself away from disbelief. I'm not sorry I read it, but I have a hard time generating any excitement about having done so.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Marts (Thinker)

    Being a fan of Poe's tales, I decided to experience his only novel "The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket" written in 1838. In classic Poe style of course it was quite interesting and enjoyable, on many an occasion I felt I was actually with Pym experiencing the adventures. The tale is about the young Arthur Gordon Pym who stows away aboard a whaling ship called Grampus. Pym experiences a series of adventures including shipwreck, mutiny, and cannibalism. He is eventually rescued by the Being a fan of Poe's tales, I decided to experience his only novel "The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket" written in 1838. In classic Poe style of course it was quite interesting and enjoyable, on many an occasion I felt I was actually with Pym experiencing the adventures. The tale is about the young Arthur Gordon Pym who stows away aboard a whaling ship called Grampus. Pym experiences a series of adventures including shipwreck, mutiny, and cannibalism. He is eventually rescued by the crew of another vessel, the Jane Guy and also meets a sailor called Dirk Peters with whom he travels further south. They finally reach land again, but are confronted by natives. Well they end up capturing a hostage, aquiring a canoe and sailing towards the South Pole. The tale ends abruptly though, in Pym's words, "There arose in our pathway a shrouded human figure". Gather your own understanding of this.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Lemar

    Edgar Allen Poe shows the skills he employs to create a mood of terror. Much of the effectiveness lies in his seamless mix of describing the physical threat with the psychological experience that amplifies it exponentially. In this example he describes climbing down the face of a cliff, clinging to a rope: “we begin to anticipate the feelings with which we shall fall, to picture to ourselves the sickness, and dizziness, and the last struggle, and the half swoon, and the final bitterness of the r Edgar Allen Poe shows the skills he employs to create a mood of terror. Much of the effectiveness lies in his seamless mix of describing the physical threat with the psychological experience that amplifies it exponentially. In this example he describes climbing down the face of a cliff, clinging to a rope: “we begin to anticipate the feelings with which we shall fall, to picture to ourselves the sickness, and dizziness, and the last struggle, and the half swoon, and the final bitterness of the rushing and headlong descent. And now I found these fancies creating their own realities, and all imagined horrors crowding upon me in fact. I felt my knees strike violently together, while my fingers were gradually yet certainly relaxing their grasp.” Classic Poe. His writing is so adrenaline fueled that I can see why he chose short stories over this, what I think is his only novel length work, but it’s all here!

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