The Museum Collection

Pirated English Edition of The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym

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Creator: Edgar Allan Poe
Date: 1838
Format: Book
Collection: Poe Foundation, Inc.
Publisher: Wiley and Putnam
Place of Publication: London
Publish Date: 1838


This is a pirated English edition of Poe's only finished novel. Without an international copyright law to protect him, Poe saw many of his works reprinted in Europe without his receiving any payment. English authors life Charles Dickens also experienced this when their works were reprinted in the United States. During his lifetime, Poe championed the cause of an international copyright law that would allow writers to make a living from their work by ensuring that they are paid for every printing. Without sufficient payment for his literary works, Poe needed to find other sources of income, like editing and lecturing, to support himself and his family.

Poe's only finished novel began with two installments published in issues of the Southern Literary Messenger in January and February 1837. After discontinuing his employment at the Southern Literary Messenger, Poe moved from Richmond to New York, where he expanded the novel, which was released in July 1838. The novel tells of a sea voyage to the South Seas and Antarctica (which had first been discovered in 1822). The novel may have influenced Herman Melville, author of Moby Dick. It is known that Melville's brother owned a copy. Jules Verne, author of Around the World in Eighty Days, was certainly influenced by this and other examples of Poe's science fiction, and Verne even wrote a sequel to the book.

The English edition was issued by Wiley and Putnam in London in 1838. It does not include the last journal entry, so the ending is different than the American version's. The book was translated into French in 1858 by Charles Baudelaire. A Spanish version was released in Barcelona in 1863.