The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket

Influence and legacy

19th century

Scholars, including Patrick F. Quinn and John J. McAleer, have noted parallels between Herman Melville's Moby-Dick and The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket and other Poe works. Quinn noted that there were enough similarities that Melville must have studied Poe's novel and, if not, it would be "one of the most extraordinary accidents in literature".[86] McAleer noted that Poe's short story "The Fall of the House of Usher" inspired "Ahab's flawed character" in Moby-Dick.[87] Scholar Jack Scherting also noted similarities between Moby-Dick and Poe's "MS. Found in a Bottle".[88]

The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket became one of Poe's most-translated works; by 1978, scholars had counted over 300 editions, adaptations, and translations.[89] This novel has proven to be particularly influential in France. French poet and author Charles Baudelaire translated the novel in 1857 as Les Aventures d'Arthur Gordon Pym.[90] Baudelaire was also inspired by Poe's novel in his own poetry. "Voyage to Cythera" rewrites part of Poe's scene where birds eat human flesh.[91]

French author Jules Verne greatly admired Poe and wrote a study, Edgar Poe et ses œuvres, in 1864.[92] Poe's story "Three Sundays in a Week" may have inspired Verne's novel Around the World in Eighty Days (1873).[93] In 1897, Verne published a sequel to The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket called An Antarctic Mystery.[94] Like Poe's novel, Verne attempted to present an imaginative work of fiction as a believable story by including accurate factual details.[95] The two-volume novel explores the adventures of the Halbrane as its crew searches for answers to what became of Pym. Translations of this text are sometimes titled The Sphinx of Ice or The Mystery of Arthur Gordon Pym.

An informal sequel to The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket is the 1899 novel A Strange Discovery by Charles Romeyn Dake[96] where the narrator, Doctor Bainbridge, recounts the story his patient Dirk Peters told him of his journey with Gordon Pym in Antarctica, including a discussion of Poe's poem "The Raven".

20th century

Prince Amerigo in Henry James's novel The Golden Bowl (1904) remembered The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket: "He remembered to have read as a boy a wonderful tale by Allan Poe ... which was a thing to show, by the way, what imagination Americans could have: the story of the shipwrecked Gordon Pym, who ... found ... a thickness of white air ... of the color of milk or of snow."

Poe's novel was also an influence on H. P. Lovecraft, whose 1936 novel At the Mountains of Madness follows similar thematic direction and borrows the cry tekeli-li from the novel. Chaosium's role-playing adventure Beyond the Mountains of Madness (1999), a sequel to Lovecraft's novel, includes a "missing ending" of Poe's novel, in which Pym encounters some of Lovecraft's creatures at their Antarctic city.[97]

Rene Magritte's 1937 painting Not to be Reproduced depicts a copy of Poe's book in the lower right of the work.

Another French sequel was La Conquête de l'Eternel (1947) by Dominique André.

Georges Perec's 1969 novel A Void, notable for not containing a single letter e, contains an e-less rewriting of Poe's "The Raven" that is attributed to Arthur Gordon Pym in order to avoid using the two es found in Poe's name.[98]

On May 5, 1974 author and journalist Arthur Koestler published a letter from reader Nigel Parker in The Sunday Times of a striking coincidence between a scene in Poe's novel and an actual event that happened decades later:[99] In 1884, the yacht Mignonette sank, with four men cast adrift. They drew lots to decide which of them should be sacrificed as food for the other three, just as in Poe's novel. The loser was a sailor named Richard Parker, coincidentally the same name as Poe's fictional character. Parker's shipmates, Tom Dudley and Edwin Stephens, were later tried for murder in a precedent-setting common law trial, the renowned R v Dudley and Stephens.

In Paul Theroux's travelogue The Old Patagonian Express (1979), Theroux reads parts of The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket to Jorge Luis Borges. Theroux describes it in this book as being the "most terrifying" story he had ever read. Yann Martel named a character in his Man Booker Prize-winning novel Life of Pi (2001) after Poe's fictional character, Richard Parker.

In Paul Auster's City of Glass (1985), the lead character Quinn has a revelation that makes him think of the discovery of the strange hieroglyphs at the end of Poe's novel.

In a 1988 Young All-Stars comic book written by Roy and Dann Thomas, Arthur Gordon Pym is a 19th-century explorer who discovered the lost Arctic civilization of the alien Dyzan. Pym goes on to become Jules Verne's Captain Nemo, eventually sinking the RMS Titanic. This story also uses elements of Edward Bulwer-Lytton's 1871 novel Vril.[100]

21st century

Mat Johnson's 2011 novel Pym is a satirical fantasy exploring racial politics in the United States, drawing its inspiration from The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket, as well as being modeled very closely on the original.

Funeral Doom band Ahab based their 2012 album The Giant on The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket.[101]


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