The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket

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The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket
Written by: Edgar Allan Poe
Central Theme:
First published: July 1838

The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket is the only Novel by Edgar Allan Poe.

Published in 1838, it chronicled the progressively incredible adventures of the eponymous character, from a stowaway berth to the South Pole. Pym's Picaresque adventures are marked by ludicrously dark violence and gruesome deaths. The novel's events become increasingly bizarre and fantastical, moving from adventure tale to proto-Cosmic Horror Story.

Can be read here.

Tropes used in The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket include:
  • Alien Geometries: Near the South Pole.
  • Apocalyptic Log: Played with. The entire novel reads as one, but editorial asides suggest that certain characters not only lived, but returned to civilization. How this could have happened is left unanswered.
  • Author Avatar: "Arthur Gordon Pym" and "Edgar Allan Poe" share the same number of letters, and nearly echo each other. Pym's backstory also largely mirrors Poe's, from his falling apart with his family, the encounter with his grandfather, and the fraternal relationship with Augustus, who is loosely based on Poe's older brother. Both Poe's brother and Augustus share the date of their deaths.
  • Cannibal Tribe: The natives of Tsalal.
  • Chandler's Law: The novel's preferred method of advancing the plot.
  • Continuation:
  • Cosmic Horror Story: One of the first.
  • Death by Irony: Parker's death. He proposes that the shipwrecked party draw lots and see who gets cannibalized to save the other three. Irony ensues.
  • Foreign Queasine: The island cannibals consider the intestines a delicacy ... served complete with the original stuffing.
  • Gainax Ending: The events leading up to the big No Ending, that is.
  • Genre Shift: The novel starts out as a fairly realistic traveling account and high-seas adventure. However, the farther south Pym goes, the more fantastical the story elements get.
  • Heterosexual Life Partners: Pym and Augustus Barnard.
  • I'm a Humanitarian: An unsettling number of examples, both among major and minor characters.
  • Long Title: Everyone calls the book Arthur Gordon Pym, which is more than half a mouthful itself.
  • Mind Screw: Back before screwing minds was cool.
  • Mysterious Antarctica: Trope Maker.
  • No Ending: The bizarre last chapters build to a crescendo that breaks off in mid-story. No explanation. No conclusion. Only Pym and Dirkens drifting through water too hot to touch, a rain of white ash, and the sudden appearance of a shrouded, chalk-skinned giant.
  • Plot Hole: One character would not tell Pym a certain fact until "many years elapsed." This character dies a few chapters later.
  • Shout-Out: Overtly referenced in H.P. Lovecraft's At the Mountains of Madness with the Shoggoths' cry of Tekeli-li!.
    • In Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, Professor Arronax near the end says that he half expects to see what "the fabulous Gordon Pym" saw in the last pages of Poe's work -- although he mistakenly claims Pym saw it at or near the North Pole.
  • Stealth Parody: Poe has a lot of fun with the then-popular genre of travel narratives.
  • Surprisingly-Sudden Death: By the time he died, Augustus appears to have been held together with stamp glue.
  • Troll: There is an interpretation that this novel was composed by Poe to troll all the fans of the then popular genre of travel narratives.
  • Unreliable Narrator: Arthur Gordon Pym, very likely, as hinted at by various inconsistencies in his narrative.