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W A Y N E R. K I M E University of Delaware Poe’s Use of Mackenzie’s Voyages in “ The Journal ofJulius Rodman” Edgar Allan Poe was indebted to Alexander Mackenzie’s Voyages (1801)1 in “The Journal of Julius Rodman” (1840), the unfinished hoax which he introduced as an original narrative of “the first successful attempt to cross the gigantic barriers” of the Rocky Mountains.2 The Voyages, which contained a minutely de­ tailed account of Mackenzie’s own pioneering exploratory journey westward to the Pacific in 1793, was a convenient repository of information appropriate to this literary ruse: Poe was able simply to borrow passages from the earlier work and present them, vari­ ously revised, as writings either of the journal’s “Editor” or of Julius Rodman, a taciturn, hypochondriacal Kentuckian who sup­ posedly traversed the Rockies in 1792. Although his uses in “Julius Rodman” of Lewis and Clark’s History of the Expedition (1814) and of Washington Irving’s Astoria (1836) and The Adventures of Captain Bonneville (1837) have been pointed out, his indebted­ ness to the Voyages has never been described in any detail.8 Yet Woyages from Montreal, on the River St. Laurence, Through the Continent of North America, to the Frozen and Pacific Oceans; in the Years 1789 and 1793.With a Preliminary Account of the Rise, Progress, and Present Stale of the Fur Trade of that Country (London: Cadell and Davies, 1801); reprinted in the American Explorers Series, 2 vols. (New York, 1922). Citations are to the later edition. 2“The Journal of Julius Rodman,” Burton’s Gentleman’s Magazine, I (Jan.-June 1840), 44-47, 80-85, 109-113, 179-183, 206-210, 255-259. Reprinted in The Complete Works of Edgar Allan Poe, ed. James A. Harrison (New York, 1902), IV, 9-101. Citations are to the later edition. 3See Polly P. Crawford, “Lewis and Clark’s Expedition as a Source for Poe’s ‘Journal of Julius Rodm an/” University of Texas Studies in English, XII (July 1932), 158-170, and H. Arlin Turner, “A Note on Poe’s ‘Julius Rodman’ [and its indebtedness to Irving’s Captain 62 Western American Literature in this popular work Poe found a collection of the historical and practical lore relating to Western explorations with which he attempted to lend plausibility to his own fantastic creation. It is well known that, in order to conceal his dependence on various sources, Poe often censured the very authors from whose productions he was secretly borrowing material.4 In “Julius Rod­ man,” however, he adopts a reverse variant of this camouflage tech­ nique: that is, instead of casting doubt upon the reliability of Alexander Mackenzie, he approvingly misrepresents him. Thus, in an introductory sketch of historical trends in the exploration of North America, he cites the Voyages as his authority for what appears to be a penetrating observation. Posing as the knowledge­ able “Editor” of Julius Rodman’s recently discovered manuscript journal, he refutes a suggestion by Washington Irving in Astoria that Jonathan Carver’s abortive attempts in 1763 and 1774 to reach the Pacific Ocean by land were the first such undertakings by a white man.5 To substantiate this challenge, he observes that , . we find in one of the journals of Sir Alexander Mackenzie that two different enterprises were set on foot . . . by the Hudson Bay Fur Company, the one in 1758, the other as early as 1749; both of which are supposed to have entirely failed, as no accounts of the actual expeditions are extant.”6 Yet at only one point in the Voyages—in his own “General History of the Fur Trade from Canada to the North-West, &c.”—does Mackenzie even mention these early expeditions deputed by the Hudson’s Bay Company; and in that passage he makes no mention of the dates on which the attempts were made.7 Thus Poe, apparently having manufactured Bonneville],” University of Texas Studies in English, X (July 1930), 147-151. See also my forthcoming article in American Literature, “Poe’s Use of Irving's Astoria in ‘The Journal of Julius Rodman.’” The only published discussion of Poe’s use of the Voyages is by H...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1948-7142
Print ISSN
0043-3462
Pages
pp. 61-68
Launched on MUSE
2017-10-04
Open Access
No
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