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R E V I E W JOHN WARD OSTROM, BURTON R. POLLIN, AND JEFFREY A. SAVOYE, EDS. Poe’s Letters Redux The Collected Letters of Edgar Allan Poe, Vols. 1 (1824-46) and 2 (1847-49). 3rd ed. New York: Gordian Press, 2008. xlvii, 1325 pp. $100 cloth. T he title page of The Collected Letters of Edgar Allan Poe designates the roles of its three editors with two terse phrases: “Originally edited by / John Ward Ostrom / Revised, corrected, and expanded by / Burton R. Pollin / and / Jeffrey A. Savoye.” In an early, detailed review of this new edition of Ostrom’s indispensable resource for Poe biography and scholarship, Heyward Ehrlich justly finds Pollin and Savoye “too modest” in simply designating themselves second and third editors [see Edgar Allan Poe Review 9 (Fall 2008): 67-77; esp. 68]. Indeed, this collection is not simply an expansion and revision but a massive reconstruction of Ostrom’s 1948 Letters along with its 1966 Gordian Press reprint with supplement, its subsequent 1974 supplement, and Ostrom’s 1981 “Revised Check List.” The scope of this reconstruction, and the years of labor that Pollin and Savoye devoted to it, justify quoting at length from the summary of their editorial decisions in the 2008 preface: In preparing this revision of The Letters, it was deemed worthwhile to forego the option of retaining the existing supplement and creating one or more additional supplements for corrections and new letters. Instead, all of the material has been thoroughly reworked for the convenience of the reader. New items and improved readings of previously printed texts have been integrated to create a single chronological series, with re-dated letters moved to their correct locations. Notes rely heavily on Ostrom’s original comments, applying revisions from the supplements and combining a substantial amount of new information from a wide variety of sources, all rewritten for the sake of clarity and to maintain a consistent sense of style. Important problems with previous printings are discussed as appropriate, but minor errors have generally been corrected silently. A separate section has been created for promissory notes and receipts, and another for spurious material. The expanded subject index now covers all of the material presented up through the appendices, and refers to items by letter and page numbers. The Check List of Poe’s Correspondence has been C  2009 Washington State University 100 P O E S T U D I E S , VOL. 42, 2009 R E V I E W considerably revised, with new and corrected entries, plus detailed information about the known history of ownership and printings, with sales prices noted as documented. [1:xvi-xvii] Ehrlich notes that the “explosion of scholarly knowledge of Poe’s writings , letters, and career has made a new edition long overdue” [67-68], and that Pollin and Savoye go far beyond the obviously demanding tasks of adding letters uncovered after 1981, updating facts, and reorganizing material. In Ehrlich’s words, The Collected Letters “sets . . . a new standard for comprehensiveness and moderation in Poe scholarship”; indeed, he concludes that its “generous annotation . . . invigorates Poe studies to an unprecedented degree by making a long-awaited attempt to consolidate and integrate more Poe scholarship into one encyclopedic monument than, perhaps, ever has been done before” [77]. To Ehrlich, the era of Ostrom’s 1948 edition, marked by New Criticism and a tendency to treat Poe’s letters as “self-sufficient documents,” was reflected in that collection’s foregrounding of “readable” texts, decision to provide “compact” annotations, and relegation of “matters for the Poe specialist to the back of the volume” [67]. However, shifts in critical assumptions over the last few decades, he argues, mean that Poe’s letters can no longer be seen to contain “in themselves a coherent narrative of the details of his career” but rather “must now be mediated in a contemporary scholarly dialogue between the texts and their contexts” [69, 67]. Clearly, the review finds that Pollin and Savoye succeed in building such a dialogue into this transformed version of Ostrom’s Letters, a dialogue that reflects modern critical mandates “to contextualize and historicize our views of Poe’s works, life, and career” [67]. In many...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1754-6095
Print ISSN
1947-4644
Pages
pp. 100-112
Launched on MUSE
2014-01-07
Open Access
No
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