Produced by David Widger
THE WORKS OF EDGAR ALLAN POE
IN FIVE VOLUMES
The Raven Edition
NARRATIVE OF A. GORDON PYM LIGEIA MORELLA A TALE OF THE RAGGED MOUNTAINS THE SPECTACLES KING PEST THREE SUNDAYS IN A WEEK
NARRATIVE OF A. GORDON PYM
UPON my return to the United States a few months ago, after theextraordinary series of adventure in the South Seas and elsewhere, ofwhich an account is given in the following pages, accident threw meinto the society of several gentlemen in Richmond, Va., who felt deepinterest in all matters relating to the regions I had visited, and whowere constantly urging it upon me, as a duty, to give my narrative tothe public. I had several reasons, however, for declining to do so, someof which were of a nature altogether private, and concern no person butmyself; others not so much so. One consideration which deterred me wasthat, having kept no journal during a greater portion of the time inwhich I was absent, I feared I should not be able to write, from merememory, a statement so minute and connected as to have the _appearance_of that truth it would really possess, barring only the natural andunavoidable exaggeration to which all of us are prone when detailingevents which have had powerful influence in exciting the imaginativefaculties. Another reason was, that the incidents to be narrated wereof a nature so positively marvellous that, unsupported as my assertionsmust necessarily be (except by the evidence of a single individual, andhe a half-breed Indian), I could only hope for belief among my family,and those of my friends who have had reason, through life, to put faithin my veracity--the probability being that the public at large wouldregard what I should put forth as merely an impudent and ingeniousfiction. A distrust in my own abilities as a writer was, nevertheless,one of the principal causes which prevented me from complying with thesuggestions of my advisers.
Among those gentlemen in Virginia who expressed the greatest interestin my statement, more particularly in regard to that portion of itwhich related to the Antarctic Ocean, was Mr. Poe, lately editor ofthe “Southern Literary Messenger,” a monthly magazine, published by Mr.Thomas W. White, in the city of Richmond. He strongly advised me,among others, to prepare at once a full account of what I had seenand undergone, and trust to the shrewdness and common-sense of thepublic--insisting, with great plausibility, that however roughly, asregards mere authorship, my book should be got up, its very uncouthness,if there were any, would give it all the better chance of being receivedas truth.
Notwithstanding this representation, I did not make up my mind to do ashe suggested. He afterward proposed (finding that I would not stir inthe matter) that I should allow him to draw up, in his own words, anarrative of the earlier portion of my adventures, from facts affordedby myself, publishing it in the “Southern Messenger” _under the garbof fiction. _To this, perceiving no objection, I consented, stipulatingonly that my real name should be retained. Two numbers of the pretendedfiction appeared, consequently, in the “Messenger” for January andFebruary (1837), and, in order that it might certainly be regarded asfiction, the name of Mr. Poe was affixed to the articles in the table ofcontents of the magazine.
The manner in which this ruse was received has induced me at length toundertake a regular compilation and publication of the adventures inquestion; for I found that, in spite of the air of fable which had beenso ingeniously thrown around that portion of my statement which appearedin the “Messenger” (without altering or distorting a single fact),the public were still not at all disposed to receive it as fable, andseveral letters were sent to Mr. P.’s address, distinctly expressinga conviction to the contrary. I thence concluded that the facts of mynarrative would prove of such a nature as to carry with them sufficientevidence of their own authenticity, and that I had consequently littleto fear on the score of popular incredulity.
This_ exposé _being made, it will be seen at once how much of whatfollows I claim to be my own writing; and it will also be understoodthat no fact is misrepresented in the first few pages which were writtenby Mr. Poe. Even to those readers who have not seen the “Messenger,” it will be unnecessary to point out where his portion ends and my owncommences; the difference in point of style will be readily perceived.
A. G. PYM.