The Works of Edgar Allan Poe

Edgar Allan Poe, The Works of Edgar Allan Poe (Chicago: Stone and Kimball, 1895). Image courtesy of the Sheridan Libraries, Johns Hopkins University.

Planned for publishing in 1895, this copy of The Works of Edgar Allan Poe is an unbound collection of Poe’s fiction and poetry. As picture above, the book contains no cover; rather, the first feature seen when viewing the book is the title page, which tells that the book not only contains Poe’s works, but also a memoir, critical introduction, and notes by Edmund Clarence Stedman and George Edward Woodberry. The title page further reveals that this is only the first of ten volumes published by Simon and Kimball in Chicago and that illustrations were intended to be included though none have been printed in this copy.

The lack of a cover and binding is certainly one of the most notable features of this book. When one unties the string that holds the pages together, the historical aspect of this text is made that much more tangible. It heightens the sense that what is being held is a true piece of history. It is not only a book from the late 1800s, but also an important display of how books were created then and the publishing industry in general. There are also brown splotches on the pages (as seen in the photograph) that add to the aged feeling of the text. The pages are uncut, and so they cannot be read in a linear fashion. In order to read Poe’s work as he wrote it, the pages must first be unfolded and opened up, but even then it does not seem as if the pages are in order. It is important to pay close attention to the page numbers and much flipping of the large sheet of paper back and forth is required to read his work properly. It’s not a hassle though; it’s certainly a unique experience in reading a book that gives the reader the opportunity to appreciate both books and Poe’s work on another level.

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