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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. Mary Whipple
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VINE VOICEon 22 March 2015
This was Poe's only full length novel, and its episodic nature and very abrupt ending seems to indicate he was probably right to focus on short stories, of which he is in my view one of the prime exponents. This is a long-winded story of shipwrecks, storms, cannibalism, burial alive (of course), and exploring new lands at the southern extremity of the world. The book's abrupt end seems to come when the narrator and his sole surviving shipmate are about to discover a mystery near the south pole, that is held to be a vindication of the "hollow Earth" theory, which still had some traction in the early 19th century when exploration of the polar regions was still in its relative infancy. This story is a curiosity rather than anything else.
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on 4 March 2016
My opinion of this, Poe's only attempt at a novel is somewhat split. On the one hand, quite an entertaining nautical romance well in keeping with 19th century tradition. On the other hand however, it also seems to presuppose that the reader has a great proficency in nautical terminology and navigation, positively bombarding you with coordinates and archaic sailing lingo.

With that in mind it is safe to say that I enjoyed Gordon Pym far more when it was in high seas adventure mode, and a lot less when it was in dry pseudo-autobiography sailing manual want to stab my own eyes out mode.

Aside from that, an obvious disclaimer comes to mind, and that is that it is horribly racist. Being not unacquainted with 19th century adventure novels, this didn't neccessarily come as a surprise to me, but Poe definitely lays it on a lot thicker than contemporaries and near contemporaries of his, so do keep that in mind before reading it.

As for the (non) ending (no spoilers), it is incredibly abrupt and left me a tad perplexed, but in a good way that encourages the mind to wander and fill in the blanks itself, which happens to be one of my favourite kinds of ending. Don't show, don't tell if you will.

All in all, I'd say that despite its shortcomings it is definitely worth the read. Just keep in mind that it is a definite product of its time, and (you've been warned) don't be surprised if once in a while Poe decides he must dedicate six pages to why you totally need to know the history of this particular clump of islands nobody cares about, or the correct method by which you MUST secure your cargo on pain of death!
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Professing to be the true account of a sea voyage made by Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket, Edgar Allan Poe records the strange, unbelievable events aboard the ship Grampus and on a voyage of discovery to the Antarctic six months later. Published in 1850, but professing to have taken place in 1827, Poe's fictionalized narrative, supposedly penned by Pym, a young man from Nantucket, describes Pym's experiences beginning in July of that year. Stowed away in the hold of the ship 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 counter mutiny, equally bloody, leaves only four men alive on the Grampus. A gale, a gruesome death ship which passes them, another ship which does not see them, circling sharks, and the deaths of two of the survivors leave only two men alive when the brig overturns.
The second half of the account details the trip of discovery taken by Pym and the other survivor, along with the English crew which rescues them, 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, swimming "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 organized by one leader, the Aurora Borealis, hot and milky water, white ashy showers, and a huge human figure in white.
Poe's only novel is obviously in the romantic tradition of sea narratives, started earlier (in 1846) with publication of Melville's Typee. In this case, however, Poe plays with the reader's sense of reality, claiming that his fictional narrative is true, after the fictional Pym had "refused" to publish it because he thought no one would believe his tale. The 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 of mystical visions and inexplicable events make this exciting narrative fun to read. Mary Whipple
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on 12 September 2010
This novel is supposed to have a Preface written by the novel's main character, Mr Pym. It's only about three pages long but it's the beginning of the story. This Kindle edition is missing the Preface, so you're not getting the full narrative. As such - one star.
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on 27 September 2013
This is very different to the shorter stories and poetry by Edgar Allan Poe and although I prefer the short stories this longer one still held the charm and enjoyment that I have had on previous readings. It follows the escapades of Gordon Pym after he stows away on a sailing ship with his friend Augustus, and what happens to them after the boats is part of a mutiny.

It has a similar sort of descriptions as some of to some of his more satirical and humorous novel, but there are aspects of the gothic attached, and while longer than Poe short stories it is still quite short and easy to read in one sitting. Overall it is a journey about exploration of not just new lands but about what a person will do in able to survive. It's an interesting concept which is hard to classify into a genre but very different to his more well known horror and gothic short stories.
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on 2 December 2014
This Kindle edition is incomplete. It lacks the final "Note," which (to a certain degree) clarifies the story, and certainly provides key information. This is easily found for free elsewhere, but it is, nevertheless, annoying.
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on 9 May 2011
I thoroughly enjoyed the reading but let's be honest, this is a very grim story of sea adventure which might put off your next yacht expense. As it was written such a long time ago, you also have to accept that some parts of earth were more mysterious back then than we believe them to be right now. Finally, I could not help feeling I was reading some Jules Verne copycat, with some more disturbing details than Verne would usually indulge into, just to discover that he was the one inspired by this novel.
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on 24 September 2010
This novel is piece of early horror/fantastic fiction from 1845 By Edgar Allan Poe.The first part of which follows young stowaway Arthur Pym's blood soaked adventures on the high seas aboard a whaler in 1827 encountering sufficating confinment, mutiny,shipwreck,starvation and even eating human flesh.The remainder tells of Pyms'exploration of an imaginary South Pole populated by unusual animals and duplicitous savages.

This book has a toweringly high body-count with battles,violence and visceral horror lavishly spread throughout.Poe also creates a sense of menacing eeriness with his portrayal of strange unknown lands and gives us such memorable imagery and set-pieces.

The ending leaves a few loose threads,and an interesting sequel,'An antarctic mystery or the sphinx of the ice fields'by the mighty Jules Verne emerged in 1897.Get both.Really glad I read this one.
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on 21 March 2014
The first page or so of every chapter is hyperlinked back to the contents page, which is very annoying. It can be got past by bringing up the menu and touching the arrow at the bottom, allowing you to navigate past the hyperlinked section.

That aside, it's a good yarn, although it sometimes feels like two short stories stitched together into a novella. This book was an influence on HP Lovecraft's At the Mountains of Madness.
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