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Editor reviews

An unexpected turn of events transforms the novelty of life on the high seas into a nightmare. Going to sea with his best friend, the story's first-person narrator, Arthur Pym, travels the world and miraculously survives abominable horrors - mutiny, shipwreck, abandonment at sea, and hostile natives in the Galapagos. Narrator Adam Sims has a youthful, slightly raspy voice that ideally suits the young narrator. His articulate enunciation and measured pace are consistent throughout the story. To accommodate Poe's lengthy tangents, Sims shifts his tone to match the formality of the historical asides. Through his enthusiastic narration, Sims gives the listener an exciting rendering of Poe's only novel.

Summary

The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket, Poe's only full novel, is one of his most unusual works. A riveting story, told in the first person, it tells of a disastrous sea voyage involving storms, mutiny, starvation, thirst - and a mysterious conclusion. Jorge Luis Borges and Baudelaire were among those who rated it highly. This recording was timed to mark the 200th anniversary of Poe's birth.

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying reference material will be available in your My Library section along with the audio.

Public Domain (P)2009 Naxos Audiobooks

What listeners say about The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym

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Balderdash

Poe is well known for his short stories, this being his only novel : thank goodness for that! Balderdash is too high praise for it. One gets the impression that he really was making this up as he went along, having no idea how to plausibly conclude the enterprise. It contains more maritime grid references than one could possibly want (somewhat similar to Moby Dick's numerous Cetology references). Adam Sims as a narrator lacks sufficient gravitas to engender any atmosphere into the performance. Perhaps Naxos wished to have a more youthful sounding narrator to match more closely the age of the book's main protagonist. The narrator's pronunciation of the word absurd (i.e. the U.S. "abzurd") may grate upon British ears - in which case do not attempt to listen to Adam Sims' rendition of Pessoa's "The Book of Disquiet".

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I hate leaving a book unfinished, but I really didn't enjoy this one. The story was slow paced and I really didn't like the narrator.

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Profile Image for Joel D Offenberg
  • Joel D Offenberg
  • 11-11-11

Hard to Describe...

...but I'll try.

This is a nautical adventure, but the story of A.G. Pym is hardly a fun one. It's also somewhat sci-fi, ending with a fantasical voyage towards the South Pole (echoed later by Jules Verne in 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea).

I get the feeling that Poe wanted to make this sound as realistic as possible, so the book starts out fairly straightforwardly---the narrator stows aboard his friend's father's whaling ship, figuring that he'd be a welcome guest once they put out to sea. But, alas, a mutiny occurs, followed by a shipwreck. The surviving characters spend a lot of time starving and dehydrating (this part drags on quite a bit) before they are rescued and head towards the Pole. There, they meet new creatures, new people, new lands.

I should point out that the book is quite guesome...many of characters die, often in an unpleasant manner. And the story ends oddly---almost mid-sentence, with no real resolution.

This book is interesting for historical reasons, more than for its enterainment value (which, in my opinion, is minimal)---Poe was an important author...this is the only novel-length story he published in his lifetime...the sci-fi aspect is one of the earliest examples of that genre. The book has an experimental feel, as if Poe was trying to do something different and new. Apparently, it worked, since Jules Verne (among others) cites it as an inspiration. But I wouldn't call it "fun."

The narrator does a pretty good job with this.

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Profile Image for Carlos Olivo Valverde
  • Carlos Olivo Valverde
  • 28-02-21

The first narrative of its genre

On first thought, a contemporary reader might find Poe's narrative a tad extravagant and may even judge it harshly as flawed in many aspects. Poe often arrests the narrative's trail by making seemingly unnecessary digressions and minute descriptions of the nautical life. But we must bear in mind that he was establishing the basis of a genre which was later exploited -and allegedly perfected- by his literary successors (Jules Verne, Herman Melville).

Overall, I think the narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym's is a tale of endurance as well as of adventures. It might also be considered as a Bildungromance or “coming of age novel” and a psychological exploration of the human being's greed for discovery and instinct for survival. The excellent narration by Adam Sims is the perfect travelling companion, particularly if you read the text while listen to the audiobook.