The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym is an archetypal American story of escape from home and family which traces a young man’s rite of passage through a series of terrible brushes with death during a fateful sea voyage. But it also goes much deeper, as Pym encounters various interpretative dilemmas, at last leaving the reader with a broken-off ending that defies solution.
Apart from its violence and mystery, the tale calls attention to the act of writing and to the problem of representing truth. Layer upon layer of elaborate hoaxes include its author’s own role of posing as ghost-writer of the narrative; Pym – his only novel – has become the key text for our understanding of Poe.
One of our patrons who loves adventure classics heard about this book on a radio show about Edgar Allen Poe. The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym was the only novel that Poe ever wrote. The patron enjoyed it although it was not without flaws. Another patron did not like the book and pencilled in comments as such in our library copy, which also contains the sequel by Jules Verne.