46 pages 1 hour read

Edgar Allan Poe

The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket

Fiction | Novel | Adult | Published in 1838

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Authorial Context: Edgar Allan Poe

Poe was born in Boston, Massachusetts, in 1809. His father abandoned the family in 1810, and his mother died of tuberculosis the following year. Poe was taken in by John and Francis Allan of Virginia; these foster parents added Allan to his name. He briefly studied ancient and modern languages at the University of Virginia, but he left college after one year. Finding himself in debt, he joined the US Army in 1827; the same year, he anonymously released his first book, a collection of poetry titled Tamerlane and Other Poems. He attended the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York, but was court-martialed and dismissed in 1831 for gross neglect of duty and disobedience.

After leaving West Point, Poe began to focus seriously on his literary career. Realizing that he would be unlikely to support himself by writing poetry, he turned to prose fiction and editorial journalism. In 1835, Thomas W. White of the Southern Literary Messenger made Poe the publication’s assistant editor. In 1838, The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket was published to widespread critical praise. Poe continued to write both poetry and prose and held various editorial positions at a number of magazines, although he was frequently admonished or fired for being drunk on the job.