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The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket (Modern Library Classics)

The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket (Modern Library Classics) by Edgar Allan Poe, Jeffrey Meyers (Introduction)

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Summary

Book Description (From the Publisher)

After reading an 1836 newspaper account of a shipwreck and its two survivors, Edgar Allan Poe penned his only novel, The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket, the story of a stowaway on a Nantucket whaleship who finds himself enmeshed in the dark side of life at sea: mutiny, cannibalism, savagery-even death. As Jeffrey Meyers writes in his Introduction: "[Poe] remains contemporary because he appeals to basic human feelings and expresses universal themes common to all men in all languages: dreams, love, loss; grief, mourning, alienation; terror, revenge, murder; insanity, disease, and death." Within the pages of this novel, we encounter nearly all of them.

This Modern Library Paperback Classic reprints the text of the original 1838 American edition.

Click here for an early comparison of Poe and Hawthorne from the December 1868 issue of The Galaxy.

Reviews

"It is Poe's greatest work."-Jorge Luis Borges

5 out of 5 stars A disturbing tale of shipwreck and savagery, December 29, 2000

By Zack Davisson "All Good Things" (Seattle, WA, USA) (TOP 100 REVIEWER) (REAL NAME)          

This review is from: The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket (Penguin Classics) (Paperback)

This story, Poe's only novel, is an endurance test for both reader and characters. I believe it was originally serialized, and reads like a collection of incidents rather than a complete story. However, it is a captivating tale, astounding in it's detail and casual horror. Arthur Gordon Pym was born under an unlucky star. He survives in the most inconceivable circumstances, from a drifting, overturned hulk to the frozen waters of the Antarctic. Each page turned piles more horror in his path, described with a growing clinical distance. Pym himself becomes more desensitized to each incident, until he views the irrational with a casual curiosity. The language is beautifully detailed, and some feel this story is the inspiration for "Moby Dick."

Altogether, a delightfully disturbing story. One of the best I have read.

4 out of 5 stars Poe, poe, poe your boat, March 19, 2005

By Westley (Stuck in my head) (TOP 500 REVIEWER)       

This review is from: The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket (Penguin Classics) (Paperback)

Unbelievably, Poe wrote a single novel - "The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket." The book was published in 1838 and is perhaps less nightmarish than the majority of Poe's writing. However, it's a rousing good sea-faring book. As is true of many novels of the period, the book is told in first person narrative and almost diary form. Arthur Gordon Pym is a young man who through a series of extraordinary events, finds himself a stowaway on a whaling ship. However, that's just the beginning of his adventures, as he finds himself repeatedly thrust into the most unbelievable of situations.

"Narrative" sometimes reads like a series of tall tales and requires a complete suspension of belief, but if you're able to do so, then it's a terrific story. I read most of the novel on a long train trip and it held my attention completely. I'm not normally a fan of "adventure" books, but "Narrative" is an exciting, brief read. Adults of all tastes are likely to enjoy this book as well as older youngsters who enjoy sea-faring stories and adventure. Finally, the introduction, by Richard Kopley, does a great job explaining the novel's subtext, which adds greatly to the reading experience.

4 out of 5 stars A Wonderful Sailor's Tale, July 4, 2001

By Katerina Canyon "poetkat" (Marina del Rey, CA USA) (REAL NAME)    

This review is from: The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket (Penguin Classics) (Paperback)

Arthur Gordon Pym was a young man who had dreams of great adventure. He defied his family and stowed away on board a whaling ship. Doing this lead him into all sorts of exciting adventures. He confronted things like mutiny, near starvation, and altercations with different cultures.

I'd have to say that this story is "classic Poe". If you are a fan of Poe's short stories, you'll definitely like this book. I only had a few problems with the story. There were times that the story dragged, but this is far outweighed by the times that the story was very exciting, and I couldn't put the book down. I won't go into the ending, but it left me unsettled.

I found that the explanatory notes were very helpful. I'm not a great scholar on any level, nor will I ever claim to be. The explanatory notes were very simple to understand, and it helped me understand portions of the story that caused confusion, particularly the end.


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