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The Raven
The Raven
The Raven
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"Quoth the Raven 'Nevermore.'"
The Raven

Edgar Allan Poe, 1845

Details
The Raven
Edgar Allan Poe, 1845
POE, Edgar Allan (1809-1849). The Raven and Other Poems. New York: Wiley and Putnam, 1845.

First edition, first issue, in wrappers, with the New York imprint and 12 pages of publisher's advertisements at end. An exceptional copy of “the most important volume of poetry that had been issued up until that time in America” (Hervey Allen, Israfel: The Life and Times of Edgar Allan Poe (1926), vol. 2, p. 667). The Raven and Other Poems, published in November 1845 in an edition of some 750 copies and dedicated to Elizabeth Barrett Browning, contains 30 poems, including “The Raven,” “Eulalia,” “Tamerlane,” “Al Aaraff,” and “To Helen.” The title poem was first printed in the American Review in January 1845, but found new life in The Raven and Other Poems, which “made Poe’s name known both in America and England, and brought him an immortality that by no other means could he have attained... [and] gave him fame as a poet such as no other American has received” (John W. Robertson, A Bibliography of the Writings of ... Poe, 1934, vol. 2, pp. 224-225).

“The Raven” was an immediate success, appealing to both critics and general readers, who found themselves captivated by the sensational and haunting cry of “Nevermore.” Within a month of its first appearance, it was reprinted at least ten times. The poem tells the tale of a student, desolated by the death of his beloved Lenore, visited on a stormy “bleak December” night by an “ominous bird.” The pulsating repetitions throughout the poem not only reveal the student’s obsession with his loss and his struggle to keep sane, but also give the reader the same unrelenting recurrence which the student himself experiences. It reflected Poe’s own need to remember—the deaths of his mother Eliza and his brother William Henry Leonard, and his wife's progressive illness. At the end of the poem, the student chases the bird from off his door, but the ominous bird remains on the bust of Pallas, and “still is sitting, still is sitting”—as he will always, so in recollection the dead in some form endure—“The Raven” is a link to the past. Poe explained the emblematic meaning of the bird as a “Mournful and Never-ending Remembrance.” However painful it was to remember the loss of loved ones, it is still more painful to give them up. Poe’s fame rose with that of “The Raven,” and his name became synonymous with the poem. He gave readings of it on numerous occasions, and even considered a trip to England to read the poem before Queen Victoria, presenting to her a sumptuously bound copy. BAL 16147; Grolier English 16; Grolier American 56; Heartman & Canny, pp. 97ff; Tane Evermore, no. 59.

Octavo (190 x 125 mm). Half-title. Original printed tan wrappers (mild soiling, neatly rebacked with portions of original printed title laid down, top, top right corner of lower wrapper restored effecting the rule); full black morocco gilt box. Provenance: George Downing Hartley (bookplate to verso of half-title).

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Heather Weintraub
Heather Weintraub Specialist, Books, Manuscripts, & Archives

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