Tag Archives: Edgar Allan Poe

Books Acquired Recently: W.W. Norton Edition

I recently received a visit from my local W.W. Norton representative, and just received a number of exam copies that I requested during our meeting.

Appiah, Kwame Anthony. Cosmopolitanism: Ethics in a World of Strangers. 2006. New York: Norton, 2007.

I have wanted to read this book since I saw Appiah speak in 2012. The world seems more and more fractious, thus I am excited to explore his ideas for how cultures can work to come together.

Burgess, Anthony. A Clockwork Orange. 1962. Ed. Mark Rawlinson. New York: Norton, 2011.

I have also wanted to read this book for quite some time. Norton’s Critical Editions of older texts have always been excellent, and I am happy to see that in recent years they have begun expanding this series to include more recent texts.

Carr, Nicholas. The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains. 2010. New York: Norton, 2011.

The loss of reading skills, intellectual curiosity, and print culture as a result of the rise of the internet is a constant worry of mine. I have tried to teach about this issue in my writing courses several times, but my students find many of the texts on this subject unengaging. Carr’s book looks like it might provide a solution to this problem.

Defoe, Daniel. A Journal of the Plague Year. 1722. Ed. Paula R. Backsheider. New York: Norton, 1992.

I love Defoe’s work, and have been wanting to read this book as a result of my recent explorations of psychogeography because it has been adopted as one of the foundational texts of the field.

Le Guin, Ursula K., and Brian Attebery, eds. The Norton Book of Science Fiction: North American Science Fiction, 1960-1990. New York: Norton, 1993.

When I told the Norton representative that I am interested in science fiction and sometimes teach it, he mentioned this anthology. I was aware of it, but was surprised to find that it is still in print. I like that it is organized year-by-year based on when the pieces it includes came out rather than by the birth dates of its authors as most Norton anthologies are. The former method allows readers to get a better sense of how the field has developed.

Lunsford, Andrea, et al., eds. Everyone’s An Author, with Readings. New York: Norton, 2013.

I am using another one of Lunsford’s anthologies in my current composition course, but this new one looks like it does a better job of encouraging students to claim their already-extant identities as writers.

Poe, Edgar Allan. The Selected Writings of Edgar Allan Poe. Ed. G.R. Thompson. New York: Norton, 2004.

I love Poe and normally teach him in my American Literature to 1865 course. However, most collections of his work focus only on one genre, whether poetry or short story. This edition includes a number of examples from each genre as well as Poe’s one novel. It is by far the most superior edition of his works that I have seen.

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Books Acquired Recently: Salt Lake City Edition

I am visiting Salt Lake City for the holidays, and over the past few days I’ve visited two of my favorite bookstores in the city, The King’s English, where I bought Lessing’s novel, and Central Book Exchange, where I bought Kosinski’s and Poe’s books.

Kosinski, Jerzy. The Painted Bird. 1965. New York: Bantam, 1972.

I recently read Kosinski’s National Book Award-winning novel Steps, which is quite good and made me want to read more of his work. When I found this copy of The Painted Bird on sale for only $5.00 in good condition, I bought it without hesitation. The colored edging that publishers used to put on the pages of mass market paperbacks (yellow in this case, though blue, green, and red were also frequently used) to preserve the books continues to do its job. I have numerous paperbacks from the 1960s and 1970s that are still in excellent condition as a result of this practice. It is a shame that publishers no longer do this (the most recently published book I recall seeing this edging on is the hardcover of John Updike’s Terrorist). It is sad that publishers build planned obsolescence into their products.

Lessing, Doris. The Golden Notebook. 1962. New York: Perennial, 1999.

I have been meaning to read this novel for years because I’ve enjoyed the other Lessing novels that I have read, and finally decided to buy a copy when I saw it on the “Staff Picks” shelf at The King’s English.

Poe, Edgar Allan. The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket. 1838. Ed. Harold Beaver. Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1975.

I have been on the lookout for a copy of this novel for two reasons: 1. a colleague of mine recently told me that it was one of the most influential books on her life, and 2. I taught some of Poe’s short stories this past semester, and decided that it would be helpful for me to read his only novel in support of this teaching in future courses. I was especially excited to find the Penguin edition because of my love for Penguin paperbacks.

As the photograph of the book shows, this edition was published as a part of The Penguin English Library rather than as a Penguin Classic, but it has the distinctive orange Penguin spine, and the classy embossed Penguin price tag! The book originally sold for $3.95, and I paid $4.00 for it. It is a high-quality edition: there is even a photograph of Poe on the inside of the front cover!

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Some Thoughts on Edgar Allan Poe

Yesterday a friend of mine posted this hilarious cartoon on Facebook: http://i.imgur.com/rlEZr.png. Any time you can combine Edgar Allan Poe and “Bohemian Rhapsody,” you have to do it. I’ve been thinking about the cartoon and chuckling all day, which in turn got me thinking about Poe in general, and how he keeps inserting himself into my life at random intervals. I enjoy his work, though I would not consider him one of my “favorite” authors, but my history with him is longer than my history with any other non-children’s author aside from C.S. Lewis. Here is a brief recounting of some of that history.

My first encounter with Poe was via his famous poem “The Raven.” I don’t remember when I discovered this poem—presumably in school—but I knew it by 1989 when it featured in the first Simpsons Halloween special, with James Earl Jones narrating and the Bart-headed raven saying “eat my shorts” instead of “nevermore.”

The second encounter with Poe which comes to mind is reading a book of his short stories for eighth-grade English. The stories were cool because of their creepiness, but I got a 72 (or maybe a 74? Anyway, pretty abysmal) percent on the exam that covered them, so didn’t revisit the book for years afterward because it was associated with bad memories. However, I still have it, and just now noticed that it is edited by Vincent Price! Classic. And only $4.95 new.

A third strong Poe memory comes from the tail end of my sophomore year of high school. I was in Stratford, Ontario on a school trip to the Stratford Shakespeare Festival (which was a surreal experience, but that is a story for another post). The plays were in the evening, thus we were spending the day browsing Stratford’s shops. I came across a small bookstore and decided to go inside and look for a collection of Poe’s poetry. (Why Poe? Why poetry? I don’t remember my reasons; it was like an unexplainable craving.) This is the earliest instance I can remember of that lovely phenomenon of going into a bookstore wanting a specific book and finding it when you were not sure that you would (Sinclair Lewis’s Main Street and Evelyn Waugh’s Brideshead Revisited are two other examples of this happy synchronicity that I have experienced). In this case, I didn’t even know whether the book I wanted even existed, but there it was, “The Raven” and Other Favorite Poems, for only $1.00.

My fourth major Poe memory, and really the last time I thought about him extensively until this weekend (I taught “Annabel Lee” this past semester, but made my students do the thinking about it), is from three or four years ago when I was playing chess with a friend and he observed that in successful attacks the threat of a crushing move is often stronger and more decisive than its actual execution. He compared this to the threat present in “The Purloined Letter,” where the threat of blackmail resulting from the stolen letter is so strong that those who look for it are out of their heads to the point where they miss that it is on the desk, out in the open. I suppose I must add Poe to that ever-increasing mental list of authors that I need to re-read.

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