The Raven and Other Poems (First Edition) by Edgar Allen Poe

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2015-06-26 10:26:43

The Raven and Other Poems is a collection of poetry by American Gothic author Edgar Allen Poe (1809-1849). The first edition of this work was published in 1845 by Wiley and Putnam.

 

Background

The poem The Raven, as well as several other of Poe’s poems, were published in numerous magazines before being published in a collection. While the magazine printings of The Raven made Poe extremely popular, these and other printings of his poems had often been altered by the magazines without Poe’s permission. So this collection presents both Poe’s original words, and also some re-workings of older poems, such as The City in the Sea, a later edit of an earlier published poem called The Doomed City.

The Raven and Other Poems was a small volume of 100 pages, and it was Poe’s first poetry collection published in 14 years. The Raven itself remains one of the most famous poems in history. Poe announced that he wrote the poem logically and methodically, with attention to every tiny detail, and reason behind every image and phrase.

Plot, Characters, Themes, Construction

In additional to the title poem, the volume contains fifteen further poems, including The Conqueror Worm, The City in the Sea, and The Haunted Palace. The poem The Raven tells the story of a man mourning his lost love, whose bedroom is invaded by a raven who replies ‘Nevermore’ to everything he says, and drives him into a mad frenzy. There are sinister undertones of the raven as a curse. The main theme is the agony of the tension between the desire to remember and the desire to forget. Poe makes use of a complex rhythm and metre, using much internal rhyme and alliteration.

 

The Conqueror Worm is a metaphorical poem about human mortality. An audience of angels watch a play in which a phantom is chased and never caught, and a monstrous shape crawls on and eats the actors. The City in the Sea tells of a city ruled by Death, and uses much Gothic imagery. The Haunted Palace tells of an ancient king terrified of evil forces. It was later incorporated into Poe’s short story The Fall of the House of Usher.

Author

Edgar Allen Poe was part of the American Romantic movement. His writing is macabre and Gothic. He wrote prolifically, poetry, novels, short stories and essays.

Notable auction sales and collecting tips

As the majority of the poems in this collection were previously published elsewhere, whether printed individually in magazines, or as different versions in other anthologies, it is hard to define them as first editions. But the first edition of these works collected like this was published in 1845 by Wiley and Putnam.

Copies of this 1845 first edition were sold by Sothebys New York for $54,000 in April 2005, and for $56,762 in December 2002. Christie’s New York also sold first editions for $68,500 in December 1993, and $182,500 in December 2009.

Later publications of the poems from The Raven and Other Poems were often adorned with illustrations by illustrious Victorian artists, such as John Tenniel and Gustave Dore, and can therefore occasionally be more valuable for that reason.

It is not recommended to restore first edition copies of this work, as they are worth more, if more likely to deteriorate somewhat, in their original paper wraps.

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