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The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket and Related Tales (Oxford World's Classics) [Paperback]

Edgar Allan Poe , J. Gerald Kennedy
3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
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Book Description

12 Jun 2008 Oxford World's Classics
- his only novel - has become the key text for our understanding of Poe. This edition offers eight short tales which are linked to Pym by their treatment of persistent themes - fantastic voyages, gigantic whirlpools, and premature burials - or by their ironic commentary on Poe's mystification of his readers.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford Paperbacks (12 Jun 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0199540470
  • ISBN-13: 978-0199540471
  • Product Dimensions: 19 x 12.7 x 1.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 117,587 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

And now I found these fancies creating their own realities, and all imagined horrors crowding upon me in fact'.

The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym is an archetypal American story of escape from home and family which traces a young man's rite of passage through a series of terrible brushes with death during a fateful sea voyage. But it also goes much deeper, as Pym encounters various interpretative dilemmas, at last leaving the reader with a broken-off ending that defies solution.

Apart from its violence and mystery, the tale calls attention to the act of writing and to the problem of representing truth. Layer upon layer of elaborate hoaxes include its author's own role of posing as ghost-writer of the narrative; Pym - his only novel - has become the key text for our understanding of Poe.

This edition offers eight short tales which are linked to Pym by their treatment of persistent themes - fantastic voyages, gigantic whirlpools, and premature burials - or by their ironic commentary on Poe's mystification of his readers.

ABOUT THE SERIES: For over 100 years Oxford World's Classics has made available the widest range of literature from around the globe. Each affordable volume reflects Oxford's commitment to scholarship, providing the most accurate text plus a wealth of other valuable features, including expert introductions by leading authorities, helpful notes to clarify the text, up-to-date bibliographies for further study, and much more.

About the Author

Gerald J. Kennedy is Professor at Louisiana State University. He is the author of

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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

3.7 out of 5 stars
3.7 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Exciting, gruesome, strange, and puzzling 18 Jun 2011
By Eleanor TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback
"The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket", Poe's only novel, is part rip-roaring adventure, part travelogue, and part weird story, which at the same time plays with ideas of authenticity and narrative.

Arthur Gordon Pym is an adventure-seeking young man who is persuaded by his best friend to stow away on his father's ship. There follows a series of exciting adventures with Pym encountering danger and unbelievable horrors at every turn. This sensational narrative is gripping and has moments which evoke utter horror and disgust in the reader. Halfway through the book the story takes another turn involving travels in the South Seas, unexplored islands, savages, and strange wonders.

Readers prepared to go along to wherever Pym takes them (and being prepared to overlook some egregious continuity errors on the way), will be in for a treat; I finished the book awed by its shimmering strangeness. The novel influenced H. P. Lovecraft's novella "At the Mountains of Madness" and I would recommend that as a companion piece.

The notes to this Oxford World's Classics edition are clear and useful, offering interesting interpretive pointers. However, for those wanting to be swept up in the narrative I would recommend leaving them until the end, as they give away future plot developments. This edition also contains other writings by Poe (listed in the previous review) which share similar themes and preoccupations.

[Disclaimer: I am an employee of Oxford University Press, this review reflects my personal opinions.]
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Classic Literature 17 Aug 2009
By lampi
Format:Paperback
Along with 'The Narrative Of Arthur Gordon Pym Of Nantucket' this book contains eight of Poe's short tales -related to Gordon Pym in a way or another- and an enlightening introduction on Poe's life and works. The tales are
MS Found In A Bottle
Loss Of Breath
Mystification
How To Write A Blackwood Article
A Descent Into The Maelstrom
The Pit And The Pendulum
The Balloon Hoax
The Premature Burial
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Bizarre Poe - not his best 23 Oct 2012
By Mtsensk
Format:Paperback
This is a very, very strange book. Apparently Poe wasn't that keen on writing a novel but did so to interest people in his shorter material - and it shows, especially in the book's episodic character. Essentially a sequence of increasingly implausible incidents, most of them gory, there's also a lot of padding - plagiarism from other books (not especially interesting), redundant drawings, and digressions. The violence gets rather depressing after a while and you sense Poe wasn't convinced either. Though it's an interesting precursor to Moby Dick and some of the extreme situations echo his better (shorter) work, this is definitely nowhere near his best.
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Amazon.com: 4.6 out of 5 stars  5 reviews
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "I feared I should not be able to write, from mere memory, a statement so minute..." 13 Feb 2006
By Mary Whipple - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Claiming that this is the true narrative of a sea voyage by Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket, Edgar Allen Poe records the strange, unbelievable events aboard the ship Grampus in 1827 and on a voyage of discovery to the Antarctic six months later. Published in 1838, Poe's fictionalized narrative, supposedly penned by Pym, a young man from Nantucket, describes Pym's experiences beginning in July, 1827. Stowed away in the hold of the ship and aided by his friend Augustus Barnard, whose father is captain of the Grampus, Pym endures more than a week alone and in almost total darkness before he discovers that a mutiny has occurred onboard.

Macabre details of ghastly deaths and unrelieved bloodlust, the massacre of the crew, and the casting adrift of the captain presage even more gory events. A countermutiny, equally bloody, leaves only four men alive on the Grampus. A gale, a gruesome death ship which passes them, circling sharks, and additional deaths leave only two men alive when the brig capsizes.

The second half of the account details the trip of discovery taken by Pym and the other survivor, along with an English crew from a passing ship, south to the "Antarctic Sea," a voyage in which they go "more than eight degrees farther south than any previous navigators." On this journey they encounter a monstrous "Arctic bear," more than 15 feet long, a cat-like animal with red teeth and claws, warm water with Galapagos tortoises, a series of islands inhabited by canoe-paddling natives, the Aurora Borealis, hot and milky water, white ashy showers, and a huge human figure in white, not the sights reported by later Antarctic explorers.

Poe's only novel, in the romantic tradition of sea adventures, presages the publication of Melville's Typee, which is a true story. In this case, Poe plays with the reader's sense of reality, claiming that his fictional narrative is true and that the fictional Pym had "refused" to publish it because he thought no one would believe his tale. Ironies abound, matched only by the romantic embellishments and imaginative "discoveries" in Antarctica that make this fast-paced narrative as full of tense drama as any soap opera. The abrupt "conclusion" remains ironically inconclusive. Breathless excitement and near death experiences, combined with mystical visions and inexplicable events, make this exciting narrative fun to read. n Mary Whipple
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A disturbing tale of shipwreck and savagery 12 Mar 2002
By Zack Davisson - Published on Amazon.com
Format: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.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Poe's One and Only Novel: 19 April 2003
By Khalifa Alhazaa - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
In this novel I had the same feeling I used to have watching or reading Treasure Island. It is one of the best adventure novels I have ever read.
It speaks about an adventure seeker, a Mr. A. Gordon Pym. He tries to leave the luxury of his little city Nantucket, where he used to live with his father. One friend of his convinces him to travel. The first voyage was a total disaster. But he did not quit his dream. He went on yet another ... Man, it was the most chilling experience I ever had. It is not like anything you dream, it is even stranger. No goblins nor trolls appear hear, yet still, Poe can really bring the horror to your heart.
A mutiny is added to the singular experience Pym had, and then Cannibalism. And after you thought the story finished, you see that Poe starts a new story which not as impressive as the first, yet turns the attention to some other direction.
The end was a bit shaky. I did not like it at all. I usually do not like open endings. That was the only reason I gave 4 instead of 5 stars.
Overall, I would recommend you to read it in the middle of the night (if you do not have anything else to do), with a cup of tea, and with no one else around! You would enjoy it even more.
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Poe's Best Long Work -- And His Only, Even 19 Feb 2000
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
At 150 pages or so, Arthur Gordon Pym is the closest Poe came to a novel. Rife with his characteristic polarization and dreamscape plots, this stands, in my opinion, as one of Poe's best. The short stories included only add to the mainstay, and it's a great value.
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best novel ever 20 Oct 2008
By mood! - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
I do not love novels really and mostly I only get turned on by classics, but this is by far the masterpiece of all novels in that genre! 100% must have if you are a fan of ALL of Poe or just want to read a very special novel!
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