College of Liberal Arts

Department of English



Burton Pollin
"A Flawed Poe Guide"

We all know the need for a well-wrought and reliable compendium of factual material about the contents and major features of Poe's works, his life and friends, and his major critics, as well as about the outstanding scholarly research in these areas, bibliographic background, and major editions of the canonic works during his life and subsequent 150 years, but The Poe Encyclopedia, edited by Frederick S. Frank and Anthony Magistrale (Greenwood Press, 1997), fails to deliver this. Unlike excellent "companions" that organize material usefully into meaningful and associative topics, such as those of John R. Hammond and Eric Carlson, this volume arranges everything alphabetically and bewilderingly. The three indexes have numerous errors of omission and misleading terms for various types of materials. Above all, the book betrays a decided lack of firsthand examination of various books and articles, which are cited almost by hearsay, while it ignores major and indispensible aids for understanding Poe and his influence, often citing or using old, uncorrected editions (such as Harrison's) and passing over those of the last half decade. Errors and typos abound even in the cited texts and references. The book is well-bound and capably presented in differentiated type; it may be useful for the tyro in Poe studies, but certainly not for any demanding, well-versed scholar.






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