Derniers Contes

By Edgar Allan Poe

Page 1

reproduire deux: _L'inhumation prematuree_ et
_Bon-Bon_, deja excellemment traduits par M. Hennequin, c'est que, de
son propre aveu du reste, il y a dans sa traduction des lacunes qui nous
ont paru assez importantes pour qu'on put regretter cette mutilation, et
la reparer au profit du lecteur.

Les morceaux critiques, tels que _La Cryptographie, le Principe
poetique_, que nous traduisons pour la premiere fois, completeront la
serie des _Essais_, si heureusement commencee par Baudelaire.

Cet Essai de Poetique, sous forme de Lecture, en nous revelant le Poe
improvisateur et conferencier, nous initie a l'originale et contestable
theorie qui lui tenait tant au coeur, et qu'il a essaye de mettre en
pratique dans un grand nombre de petites pieces dont quelques-unes, sans
compter _Le Corbeau_ si connu, peuvent rivaliser avec ce qu'il y a de
plus parfait en ce genre. L'exposition de cette theorie nous a valu
l'Anthologie la plus exquise, la plus rare, qu'un dilettante aussi
delicat que Poe pouvait recueillir parmi les petits chefs-d'oeuvre de la
poesie Anglaise ou Americaine.

Pour que l'Oeuvre de Poe fut parfaitement connue, il resterait a
traduire ses _Essais et Critiques litteraires_ proprement dits, qui
renferment, avec des vues originales et profondes, tant de pages
etincelantes de bon sens, de verve malicieuse, de sagacite critique--et
forment a coup sur la meilleure histoire qui ait ete ecrite de la
Litterature Americaine. Puis il faudrait y ajouter en entier les
_Marginalia_, ou pensees detachees de Poe, dont l'excellente traduction
partielle qu'en a tentee M. Hennequin nous a donne un precieux
avant-gout.--Nous esperons, avec le temps, remplir cette tache
interessante.

Il serait superflu de faire ici l'eloge des Contes et Essais qui
composent ce volume. S'ils n'ont pas au meme degre les caracteres
d'interet et de pathetique poignant, les hautes qualites pittoresques
ou dramatiques de certains recits plus connus que l'on est convenu
d'appeler les chefs-d'oeuvre de Poe, ils se recommandent singulierement
pour la plupart, a notre avis, par une veine d'humour et de malice
incomparable, et par une originalite de composition et de forme d'autant
plus frappante que les sujets semblaient moins preter a l'inattendu et
a la fantaisie. Le fantastique et le grotesque y revetent un air de
gravite et de sang-froid qui est du plus haut comique, et donne a la
satire ou a la lecon morale un relief des plus saisissants.

A cote de ces qualites vraiment caracteristiques du procede litteraire
de Poe, on retrouvera dans quelques-uns de ces morceaux--le _Mellonta
tauta, le Mille et deuxieme Conte de Scheherazade_, par exemple,--les
profondes vues philosophiques, l'erudition etendue et surtout
l'enthousiasme eclaire pour les merveilleuses decouvertes de la science
moderne qui ont inspire l'admirable _Eureka_. En allant d'un

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Text Comparison with The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket Comprising the details of a mutiny and atrocious butchery on board the American brig Grampus, on her way to the South Seas, in the month of June, 1827.

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The manner in which this _ruse_ was received has induced me at length to undertake a regular compilation and publication of the adventures in question; for I found that, in spite of the air of fable which had been so ingeniously thrown around that portion of my statement which appeared in the Messenger (without altering or distorting a single fact), the public were still not at all disposed to receive it as fable, and several letters were sent to Mr.
Page 3
He proceeded to talk very coolly, however, saying he knew that I supposed him intoxicated, but that he was never more sober in his life.
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What to do next I could not tell.
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I patted him on the head, when he immediately made off again.
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But I was impatient to learn the cause of his protracted absence, and he proceeded to recount what had happened on board during my incarceration.
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At the time spoken of he had on a portion of one of these bearskins; and it added no little to the natural ferocity of his countenance, which betook of the Upsaroka character.
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The hands were in the same condition, while the face was shrunken, shrivelled, and of a chalky whiteness, except where relieved by two or three glaring red splotches, like those occasioned by the erysipelas: one of these splotches extended diagonally across the face, completely covering up an eye as if with a band of red velvet.
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I had calculated that one at least of the two former would be found still possessed of sufficient strength of mind to side with myself in resisting any attempt to execute so dreadful a purpose; and, with the aid of either one of them, I had no fear of being able to prevent its accomplishment.
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But now that the silent, definite, and stern nature of the business in which I was engaged (so different from the tumultuous dangers of the storm or the gradually approaching horrors of famine) allowed me to reflect on the few chances I had of escaping the most appalling of deaths--a death for the most appalling of purposes--every particle of that energy which had so long buoyed me up departed like feathers before the wind, leaving me a helpless prey to the most abject and pitiable terror.
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Our tortoise, which we were anxious to preserve alive as long as we could, we threw on his back, and otherwise carefully fastened.
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On this account we passed a gloomy and uncomfortable day.
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The most northern is in latitude 52° 37' 24" S.
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, the navigators were stopped, as before, by an immense frozen expanse, which filled the whole area of.
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In endeavouring to get south, they made no farther than 59° 58', in longitude 70° 15' W.
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There they were joined by their friends the pelicans as usual, but these latter never followed them to the dwellings of the savages.
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The whole of our party then getting into one of them, we were paddled along the edge of the reef before mentioned, and of another still farther out, where we saw a far greater quantity of _biche de mer_ than the oldest seaman among us had ever seen in those groups of the lower latitudes most celebrated for this article of commerce.
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When I now think of our egregious folly, the chief subject of astonishment seems to be, that we should have.
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Our next thought was to attempt a rush towards the vessel, to seize one of the four canoes which lay at the head of the bay, and endeavour to force a passage on board.
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It was now necessary to untie the handkerchiefs from the topmost peg, with the view of fastening them to the second; and here he found that an error had been committed in cutting the holes at so great a distance apart.
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At length arrived that crisis of fancy, so fearful in all similar cases, the crisis in which we begin to anticipate the feelings with which we _shall_ fall--to picture to ourselves the sickness, and dizziness, and the last struggle, and the half swoon, and the final bitterness of the rushing and headlong descent.