Page 16-17 - H&W Brochure #3

Basic HTML Version

Edgar Allan Poe. Tales.
New York: Wiley & Putnam, 1845. Octavo, period-style full crushed morocco gilt.
First edition, scarce first printing, of Edgar Allan Poe’s second collection of
fiction. In his 1842 review of Nathaniel Hawthorne’s
Twice-Told Tales
, Poe
famously declared that the tale, as a genre, represented the highest possible
achievement in prose. While the length of a novel encouraged the reader to take
breaks, destroying the illusion, the concentrated “tale of effect” provided a more
intense imaginative experience, enthralling the reader and fulfilling “the demands
of high genius” in the writer.
The twelve tales of effect collected here were selected by Wiley & Putnam’s
reader, Evert Duyckinck, from a group of about seventy proposed by Poe.
Duyckinck highlighted the most commercially promising elements of Poe’s work.
includes a core group of eerie stories: “The Gold-Bug,” “The Black Cat,”
“A Descent into the Maelstrom,” and “The Fall of the House of Usher”: “I became
aware of a distinct, hollow, metallic, and clangorous, yet apparently muffled
reverberation. Completely unnerved, I leaped to my feet, but the measured
rocking movement of Usher was undisturbed. . . . he spoke in a low, hurried, and
gibbering murmur, as if unconscious of my presence.” These stories, along with
those collected in Poe’s 1840
Tales of the Grotesque andArabesque
, established his
reputation as a master of horror.
also contains the first appearance in book form of all three Auguste Dupin
stories: “The Murders in the Rue Morgue,” “The Mystery of Marie Roget,” and
“The Purloined Letter.” Poe privately complained that Duyckinck “has what he
thinks a taste for ratiocination,” and wished that a wider range of his fiction had
been included in
, but the decision to highlight the detective stories was a
wise one. The coolly observant, analytical figure of Dupin would inspire Sherlock
Holmes, Hercule Poirot, and scores of fictional sleuths to follow: “He makes, in
silence, a host of observations and inferences. So, perhaps, do his companions;
and the difference in the extent of the information obtained, lies not so much in
the validity of the inference as in the quality of the observation. The necessary
knowledge is that of
to observe.”
This is the first printing of
, with the copyright notice in four lines, and
the imprints of T.B. Smith and H. Ludwig on the copyright page. Bound
without half-title and publisher’s advertisements. A fine copy of a landmark
in American literature.