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MARGINALIA This section is devoted to notes, comments, and replies. We wish to provide here an outlet for source studies and focused interpretations that do not feature the extended argument and proof customary in articles, for items of special interest that otherwise might not appear, and for formal exchanges on relevant scholarly and critical issues. Contributions should generally be from one to four paragraphs in length, although notes extending to five typescript pages are acceptable; all documentation should be in brackets within the text. Poe’s Treatment of ‘J’ and ‘U’ in his “Autography” In his hoaxing article “Autography,” originally published in February 1836, Poe claims to be having a conversation with Joseph Miller, presumably the author of the famous jest book, in which he gives his interlocutor’s name twenty-four times, first with the middle initial ‘A,’ then with the middle initial ‘B,’ and continuing on to the middle initial ‘Z.’ In this alphabetical sequence, the letters ‘J’ and ‘U’ are omitted. The article then offers twenty-four epistles supposedly addressed to Miller, again with his middle initial changing from ‘A’to ‘Z’ with ‘J’and ‘U’ omitted [Complete Works, 15:139-631. In August 1836, Poe published an additional article containing fourteen more epistles supposedly addressed to Miller, in which his middle initial or initials again run from ‘A’ to ‘Z’ with ‘J’ and ‘U’ left out [15:164-741. Then, in November 1841, Poe published a comment on the first installment, in which he says that the middle initials progress “through the whole alphabet” and that the work includes “twenty-six [epistles] in all-corresponding to the twenty-six variations in the initJialletter of the hoaxer’s middle name” [15:175-761. However, the earlier work includes only twenty-four such epistles, with ‘J’and ‘U’being omitted in the forms given for Miller’s name. Alexander Hammond has alleged that Poe’s omission of the letters ‘J’and ‘U’ in these alphabetical sequences and his later attempt to obfuscate this omission show that Poe was anti-Semitic, because these two omitted letters, pronounced together , form the word “Jew.” In support of his allegation, Hammond also quotes a remark attributed in Poe’s article to Joseph Miller-‘“[Wle are British, but not particularly British. You should know that the Miller family are indigenous every where, and have little connection with either time or place”-and says that this claimed ubiquity is an indication that the Miller family is Jewish [“TheHidden Jew in Poe’s ‘Autography,’” Poe Newsletter 2 (1969): 55-56; also see Complete Works, 15:140]. Discussing this allegation, Roger O’Connor has pointed out that the word “signature,” which Hammond involved in his argument, can have two meanings. In addition to meaning a handwritten name, it can mean a letter printed at the bottom of a page of a book in order to aid in accurately gathering the book’s pages when they are being bound. O’Connor notes that the sequence of lctters used for that purpose generally does not include ‘J,’‘U,’and ‘W.’ [See “Letters, Signatures, and ‘Juws’ in Poe’s ‘Autography,”’ Poe Newsletter 3 (1970): 21-22; cf. Joseph Moxon, Mechanick Exercises on the Whole Art of Printing, 168384 , ed. H. Davis and H. Carter (London: Oxford Univ. Press, 1962), 210-11.1 Both Hammond’s and O’Connor’s notes are mentioned in Mabbott’s Collected Works, 2:286. (In his reprinting of the second part of “Autography” [2:282], Mabbott presents Letter XXXI as addressed to “Joseph J. K. Miller, Esq.,” but this is a typographical error . A Web site through which facsimiles of the Southern Literary Messenger can be found shows that this letter is addressed to “Joseph I. K. Miller, Esq.”) I would like to offer an alternative explanation for Poe’s omission of ‘J’ and ‘U’ in these sequences. Poe was a working editor and was presumably familiar with the printing trade. (He shows his familiarity with it in his story “X-ing a Paragrab” [Complete Works, 6:229-371, in which he refers to the place where printers work as a “printing office ”;this is the term that printers themselves use, although it is...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1754-6095
Print ISSN
1947-4644
Pages
pp. 62-63
Launched on MUSE
2014-01-07
Open Access
No
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