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Take a look at the following item I have recently come by. What exactly do you think it is? A promotional poster? An old newspaper clipping? An advertisement in the back of a book?

 

Would you be surprised if I told you it was the front cover of a dust jacket for a book? Quite an unusual format, and not at all what we are used to seeing nowadays. Unusual claims on that cover, too, considering I thought the truth about Poe was still largely unknown.

Edgar Allan Poe — The Man by Mary E. Phillips, published in 1926, comes in two volumes. I only found the first, but I suppose even that alone is hard to come by and is thus a lucky find.

I initially found it hard to believe that it could possibly take two volumes to cover his life. Then I opened the book and found out that Chapter One covers his ancestry from the year 1100 up to his childhood at the age of two. By page 232, he’s still only 17 years old. Talk about extensive and dedicated research. The two volumes together would make up over 1600 pages. 

Not that I’m complaining — it’s more an observation of profound amazement to see that someone put so much effort into the book. And I’m glad that there are authors out there willing to put forth that intense degree of labor.

But I confess that along with the copyright date and subject matter, it’s the pictures inside that made me buy the book. Some of the illustrations are rare — a painting from 1831 I had never come across before, pictures of his homes and schools (inside and/or out), and the grave of his “Helen” just to name a few.  I even found a little portrait of Rufus Wilmot Griswold that’s new to me, looking sinister as always.

It’s truly exciting coming across old books like this — yet another type of pleasure tangible books bring forth that cannot be experienced through electronic readers.

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