From my Catalogue 31 in early 2011, I want to revisit my description of my copy of The Philosophy of Animal Magnestism, Together with the System of Manipulating Adopted to Produce Ecstasy and Somnambulism—The Effects and the Rationale. By a Gentleman of Philadelphia. Philadelphia: Printed and Published by Merrihew & Gunn, 1837.
This anonymous title was plucked from obscurity by Poe enthusiast Joseph Jackson, who argued that this was a previously unattributed Poe title. The text that follows is taken from my Catalogue 31 entry number 75:
(Poe, Edgar Allan, supposed author). The Philosophy of Animal Magnestism, Together with the System of Manipulating Adopted to Produce Ecstasy and Somnambulism—The Effects and the Rationale. By a Gentleman of Philadelphia. Philadelphia: Printed and Published by Merrihew & Gunn, 1837. 12mo, original rose linen spine, printed drab boards, 84 pages. First edition.
Poe enthusiast Joseph Jackson was fresh off his triumphant (if, to this cataloguer’s eyes, somewhat tenuous) attribution to Poe of the uncommon pseudonymous anti-Dickens English Notes (Boston, 1842) by “Quarles Quickens,” when, in his words, “the publicity given that discovery set a good many booksellers delving for copies. One Philadelphia bookseller, who had not been fortunate enough to uncover a copy . . . did run across an anonymous little book, which seemed to him to have a Poesque touch, although he could not exactly explain why he was thus impressed. He had no knowledge of the copy which came into his possession, but when I was looking over his stock, he handed it to me with the remark: ‘This looks as if it was written by Poe.’”
From this characteristically bibliopolic remark—a certain offhand profit-driven optimism cloaked in supposed expertise—of course soon burst forth a great bibliographic clangor and alarum. In the foreword to his new edition of the Philosophy of Animal Magnetism (Philadelphia, 1928) that was inevitably to follow, Jackson makes a show of professing a suitably demure initial skepticism before launching into a series of assertions regarding Poe’s identity as the author—Poe must have visited Philadelphia in 1837 as he had nothing else better to do; the address of the printers in Carter’s Alley puts them on the same block as the editor Samuel Atkinson, which “would suggest that Poe had called on Atkinson and that the latter had referred him to the printers as likely to publish the book;” the use of italics and small capitals for emphasis is particularly characteristic of Poe (“It is true that his publishers in later years dispensed with the use of small capitals, but the printers of ‘Animal Magnestism,’ Merrihew and Gunn, Philadelphia, were a new firm, and did not remain long in business. They evidently followed the author’s copy literally”); the appearance of the word “Literati” in the dedication to the receptive mind ineluctably suggests Poe, etc.
Jackson’s case was sufficiently convincing to J. K. Lilly, who in 1931 paid $2500 for Jackson’s copy of The Philosophy of Animal Magnetism and—given the well-known difficulties of proving a negative, allied to the book trade’s understandable reluctance to give up a profitable attribution—later bibliographers have seemed equivocal about showing Jackson’s claims the door, despite the later discovery of a presentation copy of this title inscribed “from the Author” in a hand not Poe’s own. BAL vol. 7, page 150 notes, “Jackson attributes this piece . . . to Poe” (leaving the title outside the Poe canon), while bibliographer of animal magnetism Adam Crabtree remarks, “Although there is no general agreement on the matter, this book has been attributed to Edgar Allan Poe.” Scribner in 1941 offered a copy of the first edition for the then-substantial sum of $175 under the fig leaf of “Attributed by some authorities to the pen of Poe.” Only Merle Johnson seems to have sufficient temerity to note (as early as 1936) that this title “is now definitely established as not the work of Poe.” Still, an interesting early American work on the subject, including instructions on how to induce somnambulism.
Crabtree 385. Boards and spine a bit stained, spotted and rubbed; some light, scattered foxing; a very good copy.