Neil Gaiman on Edgar Allan Poe (his work should be read aloud)

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I love introductions, afterwords, forewords. I buy collections of stories with stories I already have several copies of just for the new introductions, afterwords, and forewords. The only thing that’ll make me buy such a collection without a foreword, afterword, or introduction is if it has new illustrations.

And so one collection I’d love to get my mitts on is Barnes & Noble’s Edgar Allan Poe – Selected Poems & Tales which has both an introduction and new illustrations by Mark Summers!

I first heard about it via Neil Gaiman’s website. Gaiman wrote the introduction, Some Strangeness In The Proportion: The Exquisite Beauties Of Edgar Allan Poe, to the wonderful looking collection.

Edgar Allan Poe: Selected Poems & Tales - with illustrations by Mark Summers and an introduction by Neil Gaiman

The entire inspiring essay is available over on Gaiman’s site.

Here are a few choice lines from it:

Poe isn’t for everyone. He’s too heady a draught for that. He may not be for you. But there are secrets to appreciating Poe, and I shall let you in on one of the most important ones: read him aloud.

Read the poems aloud. Read the stories aloud. Feel the way the words work in your mouth, the way the syllables bounce and roll and drive and repeat, or almost repeat. Poe’s poems would be beautiful if you spoke no English (indeed, a poem like “Ulalume” remains opaque even if you do understand English — it implies a host of meanings, but does not provide any solutions). Lines which, when read on paper, seem overwrought or needlessly repetitive or even mawkish, when spoken aloud reshape and reconfigure.

(You may feel peculiar, or embarrassed, reading aloud; if you would rather read aloud in solitude I suggest you find a secret place; or if you would like an audience, find someone who likes to be read to, and read to him or to her.)

And check out this illustration by Mark Summers (do you see the hidden skull?):

Illustration by Mark Summers from Edgar Allan Poe: Selected Poems & Tales

If you can’t see it, hit “Ctrl -” a few times.

And hey, my birthday is coming up people, and I don’t have this book!

Posted by Jesse Willis

4 thoughts to “Neil Gaiman on Edgar Allan Poe (his work should be read aloud)”

  1. I also love introductions, afterwords, forewords, indexes, footnotes,

    bibliographies of sources consulted, acknowledgements of previous

    publications and many other parts of books and magazines besides the

    main text. I have for as long as I can remember and I’ve been reading for

    well over 50 years.

    Acknowledgement of previous publication/source was part of legally

    required copyright information in US publications until early 1989 and

    such information is still commonly included even though not

    mandatory. I often find this interesting for historical information and

    learning about magazines and books that might be of interest to me.

    E.g., if anthologies had interesting stories or authors and I kept noticing

    that many had originally been published in a particular magazine or

    collection I’m likely to hunt up the magazine or collection and I’ve

    discovered many fine but unfamiliar or overlooked books, magazines

    and anthology editors because of this.

    Here’s a little something from an introduction that may be of interest,

    followed by copyright information about it. I’m certain this one sentence

    quote from the introduction is safely within fair use. Quite a contrast

    from the Philip K. Dick estate’s 1983 Copyright Renewal Registration

    Number RE0000190631 “group renewal” of 37 works first published

    in 1955. I suspect the estate is now regretting that it hired Gregg

    Rickman to write this introduction. The wave Rickman refers to is the

    US science fiction magazine publishing boom and bust of the 1950s

    which was the subject of the preceding paragraph in the introduction.

    Dick rode this wave, publishing four stories in 1952, 31 in 1953, 28 in

    1954–and then twelve in 1955 (and one novel), five in 1956 (and two

    novels). — The Early Work Of Philip K. Dick, Volume One: The

    Variable Man And Other Stories; Introduction by Gregg Rickman, page

    11. (ISBN: 978-1-60701-202-3)

    An entry from the search results of Copyright catalog Left Anchored

    Name Search for Philip K Dick testamentary Trust which I had the ILS

    system email to me.

    Type of Work: Text

    Registration Number / Date:
    TX0007239131 / 2010-07-08

    Application Title: “The Variable Man” and Other Stories.

    Title: “The Variable Man” and Other Stories.

    Description: Book, 408 p.

    Series: The Early Work of Philip K. Dick; Volume One

    Copyright Claimant:
    Laura Leslie, Transfer: By written agreement.
    Isa Dick Hackett, Transfer: By written agreement.
    Christopher Dick, Transfer: By written agreement.

    Date of Creation: 2009

    Date of Publication:

    Nation of First Publication:
    United States

    Authorship on Application:
    Philip K. Dick Testamentary Trust, employer for hire.
    Authorship: editing, Authored introduction (pp 7-16)

    Pre-existing Material:
    artwork, Cover art and cover design; previously published
    text by Philip K. Dick.

    Basis of Claim: editing, introduction.

    Rights and Permissions:
    c/o Philip K. Dick Testamentary Trust, 3359 Prairie Drive,
    Pleasanton, CA, 94588, United States

    Copyright Note: C.O. correspondence.
    Regarding deposit: special relief granted under 37 CFR

    ISBN: 978-1-60701-202-3

    Names: Leslie, Laura
    Hackett, Isa Dick
    Dick, Christopher
    Philip K. Dick Testamentary Trust



    The Library of Congress
    United States Copyright Office
    101 Independence Ave., S.E.
    Washington, D.C. 20559-6000

  2. Sorry about the messed up formatting in my previous post which was a copy and paste from what I wrote in Notebook. Must have been breaks of some sort that weren’t visible to me. Also hope I’m not tiring others by harping on this particular copyfraud issue (Copyright Renewal Registration Number RE0000190631). It’s pretty common knowledge among fans of PKD and even a considerable number of reporters and others at newspapers and magazines but there is a great reluctance to mention it publically. Certainly an understandable reluctance for individuals though I don’t know why wealthy major publications like the Los Angeles Times are ignoring it yet publishing stories that are essentially press releases from the estate. To my surprise, Deadline and The Hollywood Reporter are reporting about this much more responsibly than the LAT, the New York Times and the Chicago Tribune to name a few examples. That’s not meant as a knock against Deadline or The Hollywood Reporter, just that the LAT and especially the NYT have big reputations for fairness in reporting and quality of investigative reporting.

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