He was only tired, he added, of lying in bed on such a fine night like a dog, and was determined to get up and dress, and go out on a frolic with the boat. I can hardly tell what possessed me, but the words were no sooner out of his mouth than I felt a thrill of the greatest excitement and pleasure, and thought his mad idea one of the most delightful and most reasonable things in the world.
It was blowing almost a gale, and the weather was very cold—it being late in October. I sprang out of bed, nevertheless, in a kind of ecstasy, and told him I was quite as brave as himself, and quite as tired as he was of lying in bed like a dog, and quite as ready for any fun or frolic as any Augustus Barnard in Nantucket. We lost no time in getting on our clothes and hurrying down to the boat.
Augustus got into her and bailed her, for she was nearly half full of water. This being done, we hoisted jib and mainsail, kept full, and started boldly out to sea. The wind, as I before said, blew freshly from the southwest. The night was very clear and cold. Augustus had taken the helm, and I stationed myself by the mast, on the deck of the cuddy.
We flew along at a great rate—neither of us having said a word since casting loose from the wharf. I now asked my companion what course he intended to steer, and what time he thought it probable we should get back. He whistled for a few minutes, and then said crustily: "I am going to sea—you may go home if you think proper. I could see him distinctly by the light of the moon—his face was paler than any marble, and his hand shook so excessively that he could scarcely retain hold of the tiller.
I found that something had gone wrong, and became seriously alarmed. At this period I knew little about the management of a boat, and was now depending entirely upon the nautical skill of my friend. The wind, too, had suddenly increased, as we were fast getting out of the lee of the land—still I was ashamed to betray any trepidation, and for almost half an hour maintained a resolute silence. I could stand it no longer, however, and spoke to Augustus about the propriety of turning back.
As before, it was nearly a minute before he made answer, or took any notice of my suggestion. I again looked at the speaker attentively. His lips were perfectly livid, and his knees shook so violently together that he seemed scarcely able to stand. I flew to him and raised him up. He was drunk—beastly drunk—he could no longer either stand, speak, or see.
His eyes were perfectly glazed; and as I let him go in the extremity of my despair, he rolled like a mere log into the bilge-water, from which I had lifted him. It was evident that, during the evening, he had drunk far more than I suspected, and that his conduct in bed had been the result of a highly-concentrated state of intoxication—a state which, like madness, frequently enables the victim to imitate the outward demeanour of one in perfect possession of his senses.
The coolness of the night air, however, had had its usual effect—the mental energy began to yield before its influence—and the confused perception which he no doubt then had of his perilous situation had assisted in hastening the catastrophe. He was now thoroughly insensible, and there was no probability that he would be otherwise for many hours.
It is hardly possible to conceive the extremity of my terror. The fumes of the wine lately taken had evaporated, leaving me doubly timid and irresolute. I knew that I was altogether incapable of managing the boat, and that a fierce wind and strong ebb tide were hurrying us to destruction. A storm was evidently gathering behind us; we had neither compass nor provisions; and it was clear that, if we held our present course, we should be out of sight of land before daybreak.
These thoughts, with a crowd of others equally fearful, flashed through my mind with a bewildering rapidity, and for some moments paralyzed me beyond the possibility of making any exertion. The boat was going through the water at a terrible rate—full before the wind—no reef in either jib or mainsail—running her bows completely under the foam.
It was a thousand wonders she did not broach to—Augustus having let go the tiller, as I said before, and I being too much agitated to think of taking it myself. By good luck, however, she kept steady, and gradually I recovered some degree of presence of mind. Still the wind was increasing fearfully, and whenever we rose from a plunge forward, the sea behind fell combing over our counter, and deluged us with water. I was so utterly benumbed, too, in every limb, as to be nearly unconscious of sensation.
At length I summoned up the resolution of despair, and rushing to the mainsail let it go by the run. As might have been expected, it flew over the bows, and, getting drenched with water, carried away the mast short off by the board. This latter accident alone saved me from instant destruction. Under the jib only, I now boomed along before the wind, shipping heavy seas occasionally over the counter, but relieved from the terror of immediate death.
I took the helm, and breathed with greater freedom as I found that there yet remained to us a chance of ultimate escape. Augustus still lay senseless in the bottom of the boat; and as there was imminent danger of his drowning the water being nearly a foot deep just where he fell , I contrived to raise him partially up, and keep him in a sitting position, by passing a rope round his waist, and lashing it to a ringbolt in the deck of the cuddy. Having thus arranged every thing as well as I could in my chilled and agitated condition, I recommended myself to God, and made up my mind to bear whatever might happen with all the fortitude in my power.
Hardly had I come to this resolution, when, suddenly, a loud and long scream or yell, as if from the throats of a thousand demons, seemed to pervade the whole atmosphere around and above the boat. Never while I live shall I forget the intense agony of terror I experienced at that moment. My hair stood erect on my head—I felt the blood congealing in my veins—my heart ceased utterly to beat, and without having once raised my eyes to learn the source of my alarm, I tumbled headlong and insensible upon the body of my fallen companion. I found myself, upon reviving, in the cabin of a large whaling-ship the Penguin bound to Nantucket.
Several persons were standing over me, and Augustus, paler than death, was busily occupied in chafing my hands. Upon seeing me open my eyes, his exclamations of gratitude and joy excited alternate laughter and tears from the rough-looking personages who were present. The mystery of our being in existence was now soon explained. We had been run down by the whaling-ship, which was close-hauled, beating up to Nantucket with every sail she could venture to set, and consequently running almost at right angles to our own course. Several men were on the look-out forward, but did not perceive our boat until it was an impossibility to avoid coming in contact- their shouts of warning upon seeing us were what so terribly alarmed me.
The huge ship, I was told, rode immediately over us with as much ease as our own little vessel would have passed over a feather, and without the least perceptible impediment to her progress. Not a scream arose from the deck of the victim—there was a slight grating sound to be heard mingling with the roar of wind and water, as the frail bark which was swallowed up rubbed for a moment along the keel of her destroyer—but this was all. Thinking our boat which it will be remembered was dismasted some mere shell cut adrift as useless, the captain Captain E.
Block, of New London was for proceeding on his course without troubling himself further about the matter. Luckily, there were two of the look-out who swore positively to having seen some person at our helm, and represented the possibility of yet saving him. A discussion ensued, when Block grew angry, and, after a while, said that "it was no business of his to be eternally watching for egg-shells; that the ship should not put about for any such nonsense; and if there was a man run down, it was nobody's fault but Henderson, the first mate, now took the matter up, being justly indignant, as well as the whole ship's crew, at a speech evincing so base a degree of heartless atrocity.
He spoke plainly, seeing himself upheld by the men, told the captain he considered him a fit subject for the gallows, and that he would disobey his orders if he were hanged for it the moment he set his foot on shore. He strode aft, jostling Block who turned pale and made no answer on one side, and seizing the helm, gave the word, in a firm voice, Hard-a-lee!
The men flew to their posts, and the ship went cleverly about. All this had occupied nearly five minutes, and it was supposed to be hardly within the bounds of possibility that any individual could be saved- allowing any to have been on board the boat. Yet, as the reader has seen, both Augustus and myself were rescued; and our deliverance seemed to have been brought about by two of those almost inconceivable pieces of good fortune which are attributed by the wise and pious to the special interference of Providence.
While the ship was yet in stays, the mate lowered the jolly-boat and jumped into her with the very two men, I believe, who spoke up as having seen me at the helm. They had just left the lee of the vessel the moon still shining brightly when she made a long and heavy roll to windward, and Henderson, at the same moment, starting up in his seat bawled out to his crew to back water. He would say nothing else—repeating his cry impatiently, back water! The men put back as speedily as possible, but by this time the ship had gone round, and gotten fully under headway, although all hands on board were making great exertions to take in sail.
In despite of the danger of the attempt, the mate clung to the main-chains as soon as they came within his reach. Another huge lurch now brought the starboard side of the vessel out of water nearly as far as her keel, when the cause of his anxiety was rendered obvious enough. The body of a man was seen to be affixed in the most singular manner to the smooth and shining bottom the Penguin was coppered and copper-fastened , and beating violently against it with every movement of the hull.
After several ineffectual efforts, made during the lurches of the ship, and at the imminent risk of swamping the boat I was finally disengaged from my perilous situation and taken on board- for the body proved to be my own. It appeared that one of the timber-bolts having started and broken a passage through the copper, it had arrested my progress as I passed under the ship, and fastened me in so extraordinary a manner to her bottom.
The head of the bolt had made its way through the collar of the green baize jacket I had on, and through the back part of my neck, forcing itself out between two sinews and just below the right ear. I was immediately put to bed—although life seemed to be totally extinct. There was no surgeon on board. The captain, however, treated me with every attention—to make amends, I presume, in the eyes of his crew, for his atrocious behaviour in the previous portion of the adventure.
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In the meantime, Henderson had again put off from the ship, although the wind was now blowing almost a hurricane. He had not been gone many minutes when he fell in with some fragments of our boat, and shortly afterward one of the men with him asserted that he could distinguish a cry for help at intervals amid the roaring of the tempest. This induced the hardy seamen to persevere in their search for more than half an hour, although repeated signals to return were made them by Captain Block, and although every moment on the water in so frail a boat was fraught to them with the most imminent and deadly peril.
Indeed, it is nearly impossible to conceive how the small jolly they were in could have escaped destruction for a single instant. She was built, however, for the whaling service, and was fitted, as I have since had reason to believe, with air-boxes, in the manner of some life-boats used on the coast of Wales. After searching in vain for about the period of time just mentioned, it was determined to get back to the ship.
They had scarcely made this resolve when a feeble cry arose from a dark object that floated rapidly by. They pursued and soon overtook it. It proved to be the entire deck of the Ariel's cuddy. Augustus was struggling near it, apparently in the last agonies. Upon getting hold of him it was found that he was attached by a rope to the floating timber. This rope, it will be remembered, I had myself tied around his waist, and made fast to a ringbolt, for the purpose of keeping him in an upright position, and my so doing, it appeared, had been ultimately the means of preserving his life. The Ariel was slightly put together, and in going down her frame naturally went to pieces; the deck of the cuddy, as might have been expected, was lifted, by the force of the water rushing in, entirely from the main timbers, and floated with other fragments, no doubt to the surface- Augustus was buoyed up with it, and thus escaped a terrible death.
It was more than an hour after being taken on board the Penguin before he could give any account of himself, or be made to comprehend the nature of the accident which had befallen our boat. At length he became thoroughly aroused, and spoke much of his sensations while in the water. Upon his first attaining any degree of consciousness, he found himself beneath the surface, whirling round and round with inconceivable rapidity, and with a rope wrapped in three or four folds tightly about his neck.
In an instant afterward he felt himself going rapidly upward, when, his head striking violently against a hard substance, he again relapsed into insensibility. Upon once more reviving he was in fuller possession of his reason—this was still, however, in the greatest degree clouded and confused. He now knew that some accident had occurred, and that he was in the water, although his mouth was above the surface, and he could breathe with some freedom. Possibly, at this period the deck was drifting rapidly before the wind, and drawing him after it, as he floated upon his back. Of course, as long as he could have retained this position, it would have been nearly impossible that he should be drowned.
Presently a surge threw him directly athwart the deck, and this post he endeavored to maintain, screaming at intervals for help. Henderson, he had been obliged to relax his hold through exhaustion, and, falling into the sea, had given himself up for lost. During the whole period of his struggles he had not the faintest recollection of the Ariel, nor of the matters in connexion with the source of his disaster. A vague feeling of terror and despair had taken entire possession of his faculties.
When he was finally picked up, every power of his mind had failed him; and, as before said, it was nearly an hour after getting on board the Penguin before he became fully aware of his condition. In regard to myself—I was resuscitated from a state bordering very nearly upon death and after every other means had been tried in vain for three hours and a half by vigorous friction with flannels bathed in hot oil—a proceeding suggested by Augustus. The wound in my neck, although of an ugly appearance, proved of little real consequence, and I soon recovered from its effects.
The Penguin got into port about nine o'clock in the morning, after encountering one of the severest gales ever experienced off Nantucket. Both Augustus and myself managed to appear at Mr. Barnard's in time for breakfast—which, luckily, was somewhat late, owing to the party over night. I suppose all at the table were too much fatigued themselves to notice our jaded appearance- of course, it would not have borne a very rigid scrutiny. Schoolboys, however, can accomplish wonders in the way of deception, and I verily believe not one of our friends in Nantucket had the slightest suspicion that the terrible story told by some sailors in town of their having run down a vessel at sea and drowned some thirty or forty poor devils, had reference either to the Ariel, my companion, or myself.
Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - Works - Tales - The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym
We two have since very frequently talked the matter over—but never without a shudder. In one of our conversations Augustus frankly confessed to me, that in his whole life he had at no time experienced so excruciating a sense of dismay, as when on board our little boat he first discovered the extent of his intoxication, and felt himself sinking beneath its influence.
In no affairs of mere prejudice, pro or con, do we deduce inferences with entire certainty, even from the most simple data. It might be supposed that a catastrophe such as I have just related would have effectually cooled my incipient passion for the sea. On the contrary, I never experienced a more ardent longing for the wild adventures incident to the life of a navigator than within a week after our miraculous deliverance.
This short period proved amply long enough to erase from my memory the shadows, and bring out in vivid light all the pleasurably exciting points of color, all the picturesqueness, of the late perilous accident. My conversations with Augustus grew daily more frequent and more intensely full of interest. He had a manner of relating his stories of the ocean more than one half of which I now suspect to have been sheer fabrications well adapted to have weight with one of my enthusiastic temperament and somewhat gloomy although glowing imagination. It is strange, too, that he most strongly enlisted my feelings in behalf of the life of a seaman, when he depicted his more terrible moments of suffering and despair.
For the bright side of the painting I had a limited sympathy. My visions were of shipwreck and famine; of death or captivity among barbarian hordes; of a lifetime dragged out in sorrow and tears, upon some gray and desolate rock, in an ocean unapproachable and unknown. Such visions or desires—for they amounted to desires—are common, I have since been assured, to the whole numerous race of the melancholy among men- at the time of which I speak I regarded them only as prophetic glimpses of a destiny which I felt myself in a measure bound to fulfil.
Augustus thoroughly entered into my state of mind. It is probable, indeed, that our intimate communion had resulted in a partial interchange of character. About eighteen months after the period of the Ariel's disaster, the firm of Lloyd and Vredenburgh a house connected in some manner with the Messieurs Enderby, I believe, of Liverpool were engaged in repairing and fitting out the brig Grampus for a whaling voyage.
She was an old hulk, and scarcely seaworthy when all was done to her that could be done. I hardly know why she was chosen in preference to other good vessels belonging to the same owners—but so it was. Barnard was appointed to command her, and Augustus was going with him. While the brig was getting ready, he frequently urged upon me the excellency of the opportunity now offered for indulging my desire of travel.
The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket by Edgar Allan Poe
He found me by no means an unwilling listener—yet the matter could not be so easily arranged. My father made no direct opposition; but my mother went into hysterics at the bare mention of the design; and, more than all, my grandfather, from whom I expected much, vowed to cut me off with a shilling if I should ever broach the subject to him again.
These difficulties, however, so far from abating my desire, only added fuel to the flame. I determined to go at all hazards; and, having made known my intentions to Augustus, we set about arranging a plan by which it might be accomplished. In the meantime I forbore speaking to any of my relations in regard to the voyage, and, as I busied myself ostensibly with my usual studies, it was supposed that I had abandoned the design.
I have since frequently examined my conduct on this occasion with sentiments of displeasure as well as of surprise. The intense hypocrisy I made use of for the furtherance of my project—an hypocrisy pervading every word and action of my life for so long a period of time—could only have been rendered tolerable to myself by the wild and burning expectation with which I looked forward to the fulfilment of my long-cherished visions of travel.
In pursuance of my scheme of deception, I was necessarily obliged to leave much to the management of Augustus, who was employed for the greater part of every day on board the Grampus, attending to some arrangements for his father in the cabin and cabin hold. At night, however, we were sure to have a conference and talk over our hopes. After nearly a month passed in this manner, without our hitting upon any plan we thought likely to succeed, he told me at last that he had determined upon everything necessary.
I had a relation living in New Bedford, a Mr. Ross, at whose house I was in the habit of spending occasionally two or three weeks at a time. The brig was to sail about the middle of June June, , and it was agreed that, a day or two before her putting to sea, my father was to receive a note, as usual, from Mr. Ross, asking me to come over and spend a fortnight with Robert and Emmet his sons.
Augustus charged himself with the inditing of this note and getting it delivered. Having set out as supposed, for New Bedford, I was then to report myself to my companion, who would contrive a hiding-place for me in the Grampus. This hiding-place, he assured me, would be rendered sufficiently comfortable for a residence of many days, during which I was not to make my appearance. When the brig had proceeded so far on her course as to make any turning back a matter out of question, I should then, he said, be formally installed in all the comforts of the cabin; and as to his father, he would only laugh heartily at the joke.
Vessels enough would be met with by which a letter might be sent home explaining the adventure to my parents. The middle of June at length arrived, and every thing had been matured. The note was written and delivered, and on a Monday morning I left the house for the New Bedford packet, as supposed. I went, however, straight to Augustus, who was waiting for me at the corner of a street. It had been our original plan that I should keep out of the way until dark, and then slip on board the brig; but, as there was now a thick fog in our favor, it was agreed to lose no time in secreting me.
Augustus led the way to the wharf, and I followed at a little distance, enveloped in a thick seaman's cloak, which he had brought with him, so that my person might not be easily recognized. Edmund's well, who should appear, standing right in front of me, and looking me full in the face, but old Mr. Peterson, my grandfather. He started back two or three steps, turned first pale and then excessively red, threw up his spectacles, then, putting them down, ran full tilt at me, with his umbrella uplifted. He stopped short, however, in his career, as if struck with a sudden recollection; and presently, turning round, hobbled off down the street, shaking all the while with rage, and muttering between his teeth: "Won't do—new glasses—thought it was Gordon—d--d good-for-nothing salt water Long Tom.
After this narrow escape we proceeded with greater caution, and arrived at our point of destination in safety. There were only one or two of the hands on board, and these were busy forward, doing something to the forecastle combings. Captain Barnard, we knew very well, was engaged at Lloyd and Vredenburgh's, and would remain there until late in the evening, so we had little to apprehend on his account.
Augustus went first up the vessel's side, and in a short while I followed him, without being noticed by the men at work. We proceeded at once into the cabin, and found no person there. It was fitted up in the most comfortable style—a thing somewhat unusual in a whaling-vessel. There were four very excellent staterooms, with wide and convenient berths. There was also a large stove, I took notice, and a remarkably thick and valuable carpet covering the floor of both the cabin and staterooms.
The ceiling was full seven feet high, and, in short, every thing appeared of a more roomy and agreeable nature than I had anticipated. Augustus, however, would allow me but little time for observation, insisting upon the necessity of my concealing myself as soon as possible.
He led the way into his own stateroom, which was on the starboard side of the brig, and next to the bulkheads. Upon entering, he closed the door and bolted it.
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I thought I had never seen a nicer little room than the one in which I now found myself. It was about ten feet long, and had only one berth, which, as I said before, was wide and convenient. In that portion of the closet nearest the bulkheads there was a space of four feet square, containing a table, a chair, and a set of hanging shelves full of books, chiefly books of voyages and travels. There were many other little comforts in the room, among which I ought not to forget a kind of safe or refrigerator, in which Augustus pointed out to me a host of delicacies, both in the eating and drinking department.
He now pressed with his knuckles upon a certain spot of the carpet in one corner of the space just mentioned, letting me know that a portion of the flooring, about sixteen inches square, had been neatly cut out and again adjusted. As he pressed, this portion rose up at one end sufficiently to allow the passage of his finger beneath.
In this manner he raised the mouth of the trap to which the carpet was still fastened by tacks , and I found that it led into the after hold. He next lit a small taper by means of a phosphorous match, and, placing the light in a dark lantern, descended with it through the opening, bidding me follow. I did so, and he then pulled the cover upon the hole, by means of a nail driven into the under side—the carpet, of course, resuming its original position on the floor of the stateroom, and all traces of the aperture being concealed. The taper gave out so feeble a ray that it was with the greatest difficulty I could grope my way through the confused mass of lumber among which I now found myself.
By degrees, however, my eyes became accustomed to the gloom, and I proceeded with less trouble, holding on to the skirts of my friend's coat. He brought me, at length, after creeping and winding through innumerable narrow passages, to an iron-bound box, such as is used sometimes for packing fine earthenware. It was nearly four feet high, and full six long, but very narrow. Two large empty oil-casks lay on the top of it, and above these, again, a vast quantity of straw matting, piled up as high as the floor of the cabin.
In every other direction around was wedged as closely as possible, even up to the ceiling, a complete chaos of almost every species of ship-furniture, together with a heterogeneous medley of crates, hampers, barrels, and bales, so that it seemed a matter no less than miraculous that we had discovered any passage at all to the box. I afterward found that Augustus had purposely arranged the stowage in this hold with a view to affording me a thorough concealment, having had only one assistant in the labour, a man not going out in the brig.
My companion now showed me that one of the ends of the box could be removed at pleasure. He slipped it aside and displayed the interior, at which I was excessively amused. A mattress from one of the cabin berths covered the whole of its bottom, and it contained almost every article of mere comfort which could be crowded into so small a space, allowing me, at the same time, sufficient room for my accommodation, either in a sitting position or lying at full length.
Among other things, there were some books, pen, ink, and paper, three blankets, a large jug full of water, a keg of sea-biscuit, three or four immense Bologna sausages, an enormous ham, a cold leg of roast mutton, and half a dozen bottles of cordials and liqueurs. I proceeded immediately to take possession of my little apartment, and this with feelings of higher satisfaction, I am sure, than any monarch ever experienced upon entering a new palace. Augustus now pointed out to me the method of fastening the open end of the box, and then, holding the taper close to the deck, showed me a piece of dark whipcord lying along it.
This, he said, extended from my hiding-place throughout an the necessary windings among the lumber, to a nail which was driven into the deck of the hold, immediately beneath the trap-door leading into his stateroom. By means of this cord I should be enabled readily to trace my way out without his guidance, provided any unlooked-for accident should render such a step necessary.
He now took his departure, leaving with me the lantern, together with a copious supply of tapers and phosphorous, and promising to pay me a visit as often as he could contrive to do so without observation. This was on the seventeenth of June. I remained three days and nights as nearly as I could guess in my hiding-place without getting out of it at all, except twice for the purpose of stretching my limbs by standing erect between two crates just opposite the opening. During the whole period I saw nothing of Augustus; but this occasioned me little uneasiness, as I knew the brig was expected to put to sea every hour, and in the bustle he would not easily find opportunities of coming down to me.
At length I heard the trap open and shut. I shall not have a chance of coming down again for some time—perhaps for three or four days more. All is going on right aboveboard. After I go up and close the trap, do you creep along by the whipcord to where the nail is driven in. You will find my watch there—it may be useful to you, as you have no daylight to keep time by. I suppose you can't tell how long you have been buried—only three days—this is the twentieth. I would bring the watch to your box, but am afraid of being missed.
In about an hour after he had gone I distinctly felt the brig in motion, and congratulated myself upon having at length fairly commenced a voyage. Satisfied with this idea, I determined to make my mind as easy as possible, and await the course of events until I should be permitted to exchange the box for the more roomy, although hardly more comfortable, accommodations of the cabin. My first care was to get the watch. Leaving the taper burning, I groped along in the dark, following the cord through windings innumerable, in some of which I discovered that, after toiling a long distance, I was brought back within a foot or two of a former position.
At length I reached the nail, and securing the object of my journey, returned with it in safety. I now looked over the books which had been so thoughtfully provided, and selected the expedition of Lewis and Clarke to the mouth of the Columbia. With this I amused myself for some time, when, growing sleepy, I extinguished the light with great care, and soon fell into a sound slumber.
Upon awakening I felt strangely confused in mind, and some time elapsed before I could bring to recollection all the various circumstances of my situation. By degrees, however, I remembered all. Striking a light, I looked at the watch; but it was run down, and there were, consequently, no means of determining how long I slept.
The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym
My limbs were greatly cramped, and I was forced to relieve them by standing between the crates. Presently feeling an almost ravenous appetite, I bethought myself of the cold mutton, some of which I had eaten just before going to sleep, and found excellent. What was my astonishment in discovering it to be in a state of absolute putrefaction! The extensive interlude consisting almost entirely of latitude and longitude readings simultaneously describing the progress of the Guy and a history of various other excursions into the region that is here foisted upon the reader could be read as the perseveration of a trauma victim.
Then there is the episode on the island of Tsalal, which is a potent brew of psychedelic racism that would not be equaled until H. Lovecraft, whose At the Mountains of Madness homages Pym, even including the cries of "tekeli-li! Finally, there is the ending, or non-ending, of the book, which crashes to an abrupt halt with a handful of diagrams and a flurry of footnotes as figleaves for its nakedness. Having followed the action of the novel thus far, one might readily imagine that Poe had written himself into a corner and was more than ready to stop adding new incidents to the narrative, but first he teases a reference to Symmes's Hollow Earth which, if you are me, you may be familiar with from The White Darkness.
I was definitely expecting this subject matter to make up more than approximately one sentence of the novel. A bizarre, glorious and provocative failure. I feel like I can see why Mat Johnson felt the urge to write an entire book in response to it. Mar 19, Kevin rated it it was ok. Most of us are familiar with Edgar Allen Poe's famous works. In each of these, an idiosyncratic, totalizing horror encompasses our entire experience.
It was no surprise then that his only novel, The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket, takes the form of very loosely connected picaresque, with no narrative strand running through it from beginning to end. The thrill of reading Pym is watching its protagonists narrowly escape one near death scenario only to be caught up immediately in anothe Most of us are familiar with Edgar Allen Poe's famous works. The thrill of reading Pym is watching its protagonists narrowly escape one near death scenario only to be caught up immediately in another.
The story follows young Arthur Gordon Pym as he stows away on a whaling ship with the help of his friend, the captain's son. After nearly dying of dehydration, starvation, and dog attack in his hiding place in the hold, he is rescued by his friend and emerges in the midst of a bloody mutiny. Pym, his friend, and a fierce mutineer sporting a bearskin toupee capture the ship from the rest of the crew, only to face a huge storm, then starvation and eventual capsize. The story's greatest horror comes at the trio's first prospect of rescue. They spot a distant ship, its captain grinning at the helm as he makes his haphazard approach.
As the ship draws close, their joy at the prospect of rescue turns to mortal terror; the unmistakeable scent of death wafts toward the survivors, and they realize the ship's deck is loaded with corpses, and its captain is lashed to the wheel, animated by the motion of a giant seabird intently devouring his innards. Pym and the mutineer are eventually rescued by a crew hunting seal, that somehow ends up on an expedition to the South Pole, only to be ambushed by horde of deceptive natives.
The story is much less interesting after the rescue, and is often interspersed with chapters of exposition on nautical subjects, in the same way that Moby Dick punishes its readers with a treatise on 19th century whaling. The horrors of the book's first half are visceral and intense, but as the ship sails into uncharted territory, the story takes a turn toward the fantastical and loses its power.
As Pym and his companion approach the pole, they seem to approach the end of the world and a luminescent divine figure. Poe then intercedes, as the editor of Pym's narrative, to tell us that the last chapters of the manuscript are missing, and that Pym, recently dead, can never finish his tale. Or that Poe, himself the actual author, had bit off more than he could chew and declined to conclude his novel because he had no idea how. The book is short at least, at pages in the back of my compilation of Poe's fiction, and it's better parts deserve a place among his more well-known horror.
Altogether it's worth reading - I was never a fan of Poe before, and this at least confirmed for me what he's best at, and made me want to revisit his short stories. Jul 08, Lizy rated it it was ok Shelves: dark , classics. Apologies in advance if this review is unorganized; my thoughts on it are more like a web than a linear thing. I've never been a big fan of Poe, but I've always respected him and his place among morbid lit. This book kind of cemented that opinion. To me, Poe is the Starbucks of dark, angsty writing: when someone brings it up it's the first thing that comes to mind, you know it's everywhere and it's not going away, but you also know it's not anywhere near the best and probably not what you actuall Apologies in advance if this review is unorganized; my thoughts on it are more like a web than a linear thing.
To me, Poe is the Starbucks of dark, angsty writing: when someone brings it up it's the first thing that comes to mind, you know it's everywhere and it's not going away, but you also know it's not anywhere near the best and probably not what you actually wanted, and last but not least, you have a sense of awareness that most people who like it just haven't explored the options very much.
With Poe, my exceptions are a handful of short stories and his poetry. His poetry is on point. It's also not included here, so it doesn't really matter. Let's talk about the actual book part of this book. Arthur Gordon Pym was not anything I expected from Poe. It's basically like a mystical Treasure Island but instead of being a children's adventure story it's about starvation, inhumation, and unexplained mysticism thay you can't possibly figure out fron the text itself. As one of my friends put it, "well, he was probably drunk when he wrote it.
It reads like s morbid drunk writing. The biggest thing I got out of this text was the amusement about how Poe believed the North and South poles where just giant chasms into the center of the earth, honestly. I feel like, because Poe wasn't accepted during his tome but he has such a strong cult following now, that it's really easy to say stuff like 'oh, he was born before his time,' or 'if he was alive now, he'd be so widely loved,' etc. We forget that he wrote a whole short story about it taking three days to cross the Atlantic as compared to, what, 8 hours now, Miami to Paris?
Something like that? He'd absolutely lose his sanity, and if he was born now and grew uo in our time, he'd probably be prescribed something for claustrophobia and not be morbidly obsessed with death. So, yeah. That's all I really got out of this. He's about as exciting as getting charged an extra 80c for soy milk. I will say, though, the short story "How to Write a Blackwood Article," was amazing. If there's one redeeming story in this collection, it's that one. From his voice as Pschye Zenobia to his advice on learning foreign languages to sound well-learned, everything was on point. I could literally imagine this pale, dejected dude sitting at his desk penning this with a fountain pen like 'ha-ha, I'll show you' and it's perfect.
It's so perfect. Everything else is just OK, though, if not a tad bit outdated, longwinded, and all the other descriptions that can be attached when talking about anything written from the s. He's not really that special a snowflake. May 06, Stephen Scott rated it it was ok. This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. It follows the adventures and misadventures of the titular character.
The first story tells of a drunken trip out in a small boat, the Ariel , with his friend Augustus. They are caught in a storm and rescued by a larger, passing boat. The second, and main, story describes Gordon's trip on the Grampus. While stowed away in the hold, a mutiny takes place. Gordon and Augustus, along with a crew member named Peters manage to kill the mutineers apart from one man, Richard Parker however they are caught in violent storms. The ship is damaged and they run out of food, unable to access the flooded hold below. Gordon and Peters are eventually rescued by a passing ship, the Jane Guy.
However before this, Augustus dies of starvation and Richard Parker is killed and eaten by the rest of the men in desperation. The Jane Guy sets sail for the South Pole. Here, they encounter a group of native tribesmen, who, after gaining the confidence of the crew, ambush and kill all but Gordon and Peters. These two manage to escape in a canoe. However, on their journey they encounter a strange phenomenon.
The sky develops a thick, white mist; the sea becomes a milky white and they encounter a huge, white, shrouded, figure.
Being a fan of Poe's shorter fiction I was left somewhat disappointed with this. It is for the most part, relatively dull. The long descriptions of travelling, the technical nautical digressions and even pages dedicated to the cohabitation of penguins and albatrosses. Poe's writing is, as ever, quite dry and the dull sections are not livened up by interesting prose, one reason why Poe is better suited to shorter works. I also found particular scenes, specifically one in which Gordon disguises himself as a reanimated corpse in a successful plot to scare and stun the mutineers before killing them particularly daft and weak.
There were some great scenes though; when Poe was being more like Poe. Gordon's claustrophobic experience in the hull of the Grampus ; their elation at spotting a ship to rescue them being cut short as it drifts by, dead bodies piled up on the deck; the cannibalisation of Richard Parker. As far as an ending, I'm not really sure what to make of it. Seemingly unrelated to the rest of the story, and completely nonsensical.
I kind of enjoyed the sheer weirdness and abruptness of it though. As for whether it was an objectively 'good' ending, I lean heavily towards 'no'. Mar 16, Stephanie rated it it was ok. This book made no sense. Okay, sure, sometimes it was exciting and harrowing with all the mutiny and starvation and cannibalism.
But a lot of his physical descriptions were downright confusing. Like the set-up of Pym's hiding place on the Grampus. I didn't get that for a minute. I literally did not understand it. Was he in a crate? The language in this novel is very unclear. And later there was his description of the caves or gorges or something on the island.
Did anyone understand that for a minute? I don't consider myself to be a moron but I just couldn't follow it and I didn't know what the heck he was talking about. And the weird figures he drew I've never read a book so maddening. Also, when he went off on those long tangents about what it meant by a ship "laying to" and all that crap I really thought I was going to fall asleep. Or rip at the pages but I wouldn't because it was a library book. And the ending? What's up with that?! What in the world was going on? I only read this stupid thing because I want to read Matt Johnson's novel "Pym.
Hmmm, some people really loved it. It was quite thrilling in parts - I'll give it that. And I don't have a problem with the weird and unreal stuff at the end. Weird is good. But I did have a problem with him contantly telling me what longitude the ship was at I had a problem with the wanton killing of so many species of animal But mostly I had a problem with those darn confusing descriptions. I thought Peters showed promise as the most interesting character and I wish he had been fleshed out even more.
Arthur was just a rich twit Jul 07, Susan rated it liked it Shelves: classics , novel , fantasy , underground-city , adventure , travel , memoirs. Nary a one in site, unless they sailed underground through Antartica and didn't know it? Very goofy, exciting 'adventure' story written in amazing detail that was often wrong, where I knew the facts, relating an extremely unlikely chain of events. I actually laughed at the bit where they jumped the shark and several tried to jump over the sailors on a good-ish sized sai part of a study of 19th C adventures inspired by cavern people legends Why on Earth was this included in cavern books listing?
I actually laughed at the bit where they jumped the shark and several tried to jump over the sailors on a good-ish sized sailing ship. Basic premise - The son of a wealthy Nantucket family stows-away on the Grampus with the help of his best drinking buddy, who is also the son of the captain. The natives seem to get along with the crew for a bit, then betray them. They try to sail back but the book ends with them being drawn toward some huge unexplained cataract waterfall? The tale was missing the last 3 chapters, says Poe, when Peters gave it to him.
He understands Pym didn't make it, but has no details. Jan 11, Kaya rated it really liked it. Serious page-turning adventure! It mainly involves a stowaway on a ship and the many predicaments that follow. Just when things can't get any worse, they doo. However, Pym notes that Augustus did not tell him this until "many years elapsed", even though Augustus is dead eight chapters later. Novelist John Barth notes, for example, that the midway point of the novel occurs when Pym reaches the equator , the midway point of the globe. Scholar Shawn Rosenheim believes that the use of hieroglyphs in the novel served as a precursor to Poe's interest in cryptography.
Found in a Bottle", Pym is undertaking this trip on purpose. Poe also presents the effects of alcohol in the novel. The opening episode, for example, shows that intoxicated people can sometimes seem entirely sober and then, suddenly, the effects of alcohol show through. Even nature seems unnatural. Water, for example, is very different at the end of the novel, appearing either colorful or "unnaturally clear.
Elements of the novel are often read as autobiographical. Interpreted this way, the protagonist is actually sailing away from himself, or his ego. Dates are also relevant to this autobiographical reading. According to the text, Pym arrives at the island of Tsalal on January 19—Poe's birthday.
One thread of critical analysis of this tale focuses on the possibly racist implications of Poe's plot and imagery. One such plot element is the black cook who leads the mutiny on the Grampus and is its most bloodthirsty participant. Additionally, the novel drew from prevalent assumptions during the time that dark-skinned people were somehow inherently inferior.
In her book Playing in the Dark: Whiteness and the Literary Imagination , Morrison discusses how the Africanist presence in the novel is used as an " Other " against which the author defines "white", "free", and "individual".
The novel ends abruptly with the sudden appearance of a bizarre enshrouded figure having skin hued "of the perfect whiteness of the snow. The chasms that open throughout the sea in the final moments of the book derive from the Hollow Earth theory. The area closest to the Pole is also, surprisingly, warm rather than cold, as Symmes believed. Poe had intended to collect a number of his early short stories into a volume titled Tales of the Folio Club in the s.
An editor, James Kirke Paulding , tried to assist him in publishing this collection. They suggested, "if he will lower himself a little to the ordinary comprehension of the generality of readers, and prepare However, Poe retired from his role at the Messenger on January 3, , as the installments were being published;  some scholars suggest he was fired and this led him to abandoning the novel. After his marriage to Virginia Clemm , Poe spent the following winter and spring completing his manuscript for this novel in New York.
A Fable". The novel was finally published in book form under the title The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket in July , although it did not include Poe's name and was instead presented as an account by Pym himself. Its full subtitle was:. The first overseas publication of The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket appeared only a few months later when it was printed in London without Poe's permission, although the final paragraph was omitted.
Fifteen months after its publication, it was reviewed by Lewis Gaylord Clark , a fellow author who carried on a substantial feud with Poe. His review printed in The Knickerbocker  said the book was "told in a loose and slip-shod style, seldom chequered by any of the more common graces of composition.
Many reviewers commented on the excess of violent scenes. The reviewer considered it a literary hoax and called it an "impudent attempt at humbugging the public"  and regretted "Mr. Poe's name in connexion with such a mass of ignorance and effrontery". Other reviews condemned the attempt at presenting a true story. A reviewer for the Metropolitan Magazine noted that, though the story was good as fiction, "when palmed upon the public as a true thing, it cannot appear in any other light than that of a bungling business—an impudent attempt at imposing on the credulity of the ignorant.
In contrast, the renowned 20th-century Argentine writer Jorge Luis Borges , who admitted Poe as a strong influence,  praised the novel as "Poe's greatest work". Wells noted that " Pym tells what a very intelligent mind could imagine about the south polar region a century ago". Traven and David Morrell. He also returned to his focus on short stories rather than longer works of prose; Poe's next published book after this, his only completed novel, was the collection Tales of the Grotesque and Arabesque in Scholars, including Patrick F.
Quinn and John J. Quinn noted that there were enough similarities that Melville must have studied Poe's novel and, if not, it would be "one of the most extraordinary accidents in literature". Found in a Bottle ". The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket became one of Poe's most-translated works; by , scholars had counted over editions, adaptations, and translations.
Poe's novel was also an influence on H. Lovecraft , whose novel At the Mountains of Madness follows similar thematic direction and borrows the cry tekeli-li or takkeli from the novel. Chaosium 's role-playing adventure Beyond the Mountains of Madness , a sequel to Lovecraft's novel, includes a "missing ending" of Poe's novel, in which Pym encounters some of Lovecraft's creatures at their Antarctic city.
Georges Perec 's novel A Void , notable for not containing a single letter e , contains an e-less rewriting of Poe's " The Raven " that is attributed to Arthur Gordon Pym in order to avoid using the two e s found in Poe's name. On May 5, , author and journalist Arthur Koestler published a letter from reader Nigel Parker in The Sunday Times of a striking coincidence between a scene in Poe's novel and an actual event that happened decades later:  In , the yacht Mignonette sank, with four men cast adrift.
After weeks without food, they decided that one of them should be sacrificed as food for the other three, just as in Poe's novel. The loser was a young cabin boy named Richard Parker, coincidentally the same name as Poe's fictional character. Parker's shipmates, Tom Dudley and Edwin Stephens, were later tried for murder in a precedent-setting English common law trial, the renowned R v Dudley and Stephens.
Theroux describes it in this book as being the "most terrifying" story he had ever read. In Paul Auster 's City of Glass , the lead character Quinn has a revelation that makes him think of the discovery of the strange hieroglyphs at the end of Poe's novel. This story also uses elements of Edward Bulwer-Lytton 's novel Vril. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. IV, no. American Literature. Asselineau, op. Johns Hopkins University Press, Johns Hopkins University Press, 21—