Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Original MS of Poe's "Conqueror Worm", "dedicated?" to Rufus Griswold, fetches 300K at auction!!!

Devotees of inexplicably beloved Poet-Inebriate Edgar Allan Poe are all atwitter at the discovery and subsequent auction of an original handwritten manuscript of the drunken scribe's poem, entitled "The Conqueror Worm".  While various online sources report that the rare item was expected to fetch between $10,000 and $20,000 dollars, the brittle yellowed MS actually realized the impressive price of $300,000.  It should be noted that this MS has yet to be authenticated, which I find amusing given it's connection to your's truly, who, for reasons unfathomable, is associated with forgery and the bending of truth. 

To what can we attribute this significant discrepancy between the expected and realized sale price of the document?  Two words: Rufus Griswold.  Only a fool or a Poe could possibly believe that a timeworn scrap of paper penned by a literary nobody like Edgar "Allen because I am so obscure nobody can be bothered to spell it correctly, Allan" Poe could possibly fetch such a price without the one truly remarkable attribute that it boasts...a connection with the most significant shaper of literary opinion of his day, and a humble man at that, the honorable Reverend Dr. Rufus Wilmot Grisold.  

I know not who wrote on the reverse of this manuscript what I can only make out as: 
"The last
Poe's last poem
given by Edgar
Poe to R. W. Griswold, 
but I believe there can be little debate that without this association with such a well respected figure as myself this poem would not have been sold for nearly as high a price as it ultimately did.

But I would refrain from referring to this note as a "dedication" of any kind.  This was surely submitted to me for consideration of publication in one of my groundbreaking anthologies of American poetry.

See the following from the Edgar Allan Poe Society:

J.H. Whitty, in his edition of Poe’s poems (1911, p. 224), claims to have seen this manuscript, but does not record the text nor where he saw it.  He comments:  A MS. copy of the poem, originally sent to Griswold by Poe and noted in Griswold’s hand ‘Last poem sent by Poe,’ has been compared.  It follows the early texts with slight punctuation changes.”  Whitty again mentions this manuscript in “New Poe Poems and Manuscripts Found,” New York Sun (Nov. 21, 1915), also printed, on the same date, in the Baltimore American.  In that article, he comments only: “It was also thought that no manuscript copy of his poem The Conqueror Worm was in existence, but one has been discovered.”  T.O. Mabbott specifically states that he never actually saw such a manuscript, but he accepts Whitty’s description sufficiently to list this item among his alternate texts, as entry G.  Building on Whitty’s reference to the note about Griswold, Mabbott’s apparent presumption was that Poe sent the manuscript of the poem for a new edition of Griswold’s anthology The Poets and Poetry of America, first published in 1841 and regularly reissued.  Although Poe sent Griswold a copy of the newly published poem “The Raven” prior to April 19, 1845, and approved proof sheets on that date, the earlier stereotyped editions were again reprinted in 1845 and 1846, a new edition not appearing until 1847.  In that edition, “The Conqueror Worm” is one of the poems newly collected.

So, once again, Poe has "evil" Rufus Griswold to thank for yet another lofty posthumous achievement.  You are welcome, you verminous heap of excrement.

EDIT: Thanks to fellow Poe chum Undine (@HorribleSanity) for posting this newer, and admittedly more relevant information on this matter on her wonderful "World of Poe" blog which can be found here: http://worldofpoe.blogspot.com/2013/08/that-motley-drama.html

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