Wlliam Gilmore Simms
The Simms Review (Vol 4: No 2) >> Simms's 1845 Notice of Poe in the Southern and Western >> Page 26

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Reviews/Essays | 1996
Transcription Simms's 1845 Notice of Poe in the Southern and Western






In his "Editorial Bureau" in the Southern and Western Monthly Magazine and
Review, Simms reviewed the various volumes in Wiley and Putnam's "Library of
American Books." The second book in the series, Tales, was by Edgar Allan
Poe, and Simms devoted more than the usual attention to it. As Simms was
accustomed to doing elsewhere, he praised Poe as a rare genius, one of the
greatest of American authors. Here follow Simms comments on Poe and his new
volume. The "first tale in this collection" refers to "The Gold-Bug," set on
Sullivan's Island outside Charleston. The Wigwam and the Cabin, a later volume
in the "Library of American Books," mentioned in Simms's last sentence, was
Simms's own collection. Simms's commentary appears in Southern and
Western, Volume 2 (December 1845), 246-247, and is reproduced here in its
entirety, without emendation.

• we have read with delight the file artistic stories of Mr. Edgar A. Poe,--a
writer of rare imaginative excellence, great intensity of mood, and a singularly
mathematic directness of purpose, and searching analysis, by which the moral and
spiritual are evolved with a progress as symmetrical, and as duly dependent in,
their data and criteria, as any subject matter however inevitable, belonging to.
the fined sciences. Certainly, nothing more original, of their kind, has ever been
given to the American reader. Mr. Poe is a mystic, and? rises constantly into.
un atmosphere which as continually loses him the sympathy of the unimagina-
tive reader. But, with those who can go with him without sorupte to the eleva.
lion to which his visions are summoned, and from which they may all be beheld,
he is an acknowledged master,--a Prospero, whose wand is one of wonderful
properties. That he has faults, are beyond question, and some very serious ones,
but these are such only as will be insisted upon by those who regard mere popu-
larity as the leading object of art and fiction. At a period of greater space and
leisure, we propose to subject the writings of Mr. Poe, with which we have bend
more or less familiar for several years, to a close and searching criticism. He is,
one ofthose writers of peculiar idiosyncrasies, strongly marked and singularly
original, whom it must be of general service to analyse with justice and oircum,
speotion. We must content ourselves here, with simply regretting that, in the
first tale in this collection, he has been so grievously regardless of the geographi-
cal peculiarities of his locale. It is fatal to the success of the tale, in the mind of
him who reads only for the story's sake, to offend his experience in any thing that


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