Tuesday, 30 January 2007

The tell-tale snail

While we're talking about snails and literature ... When a publishing company wanted to produce a cut-price, popular version of Thomas Wyatt's Manual of Conchology, they hired Edgar Allan Poe to write it. The Conchologist's First Book was published in 1839.

The book owed more than a small debt to other texts. In fact, it owed so much of a debt that Poe was accused of plagiarism. (Apparently the publisher had chosen him, an unknown at that time, because he wouldn't be worth suing.)

Despite the controversy, the book was a great success.

(You can read Poe's other works at the Poe Society website. Make sure you've got supplies, though, because you'll be there a long time.)


CONCHOLOGIST'S FIRST BOOK:
 
OR,

 
A SYSTEM
 
OF

 
TESTACEOUS MALACOLOGY
 
Arranged expressly for the use of Schools,
 
IN WHICH
 
THE ANIMALS, ACCORDING TO CUVIER, ARE GIVEN
WITH THE SHELLS,
 
A GREAT NUMBER OF NEW SPECIES ADDED,
 
AND THE WHOLE BROUGHT UP, AS ACCURATELY AS POSSIBLE,
TO
THE PRESENT CONDITION OF THE SCIENCE.
 


  BY
EDGAR A. POE.


 
WITH ILLUSTRATIONS OF TWO HUNDRED AND FIFTEEN SHELLS,
PRESENTING A CORRECT TYPE OF EACH GENUS.
 
 
PHILADELPHIA :
 
PUBLISHED FOR THE AUTHOR, BY
 
HASWELL, BARRINGTON, AND HASWELL,
 
AND FOR SALE BY THE PRINCIPAL BOOKSELLERS IN THE
UNITED STATES.
 
1839.
 

2 comments:

Moheb said...

"Sleep...those little slices of death. How I loathe them." (That's the only Poe quote that came into my head, but I think you'll agree it's a good one.)

I can tell that you, like me, are a bit of a bibliophile, so I've got a link for you. Check out the Missouri Botanical Garden's superb collection of rare books. It may take you some time to find any snails in there - there may be none - but I can guarantee that you'll have a hell of a lot of fun looking. I've spent hours browsing this beautiful website.

Snail said...

Thank you! I went over to have a peek and was lost in browsing for some time. What a fantastic site.