Edgar Poe's longest work of fiction is a strange tale. The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket tracks a spiral of increasing strangeness. Even its genre--what, exactly, it is--seems anyone's guess. In that it concerns a fantastic voyage to lands then unknown, it is a tale of exploration. In that these lands are, in the end, even more unknown--indeed, unknowable--it is a tale of mystery. In that its voyage is ultimately implausible, it is a tale for the imagination. In that its structure can only mislead the reader it is a tale of deceit. In that Poe alone holds the key to the universe enacted by the tale it is a masterpiece of solipsistic artistry.

The way in which Pym appeared in the world is a strange tale in and of itself. This site addresses the precursors of Pym in the Pretexts section. The order in which Pym was published is also of significance. The full text version of Pym on this site is in a format which allows for different chronological readings. Many readers leave Pym with a sense that in its strangeness is a mystery awaiting solution. The ending, the fate of our protagonist, the virtually silent reception of the book: somewhere there seems to be a missing link. The title of this project, "The Strange Dis/Appearance of Arthur G. Pym," alludes to its mystery-story quality. The Investigation section is intended as a bit of detective work to uncover the fate of Pym and perhaps to render some of Pym's strangeness more sensible.


 

Designed and created by Claudia Kay Silverman
for the American Studies MA Program
at the University of Virginia
August, 1998

 

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