As published in The Raven with Literary and Historical Commentary (Heathen Edition):

This little volume was the first to place Edgar Allan Poe’s greatest poem The Raven (published in 1845) under a microscope and collect, analyze, and report its varied effect on the literary world at large. While others have since labored to the same task, to varying degrees, John H. Ingram was the first, and that, we believe, is what makes this work so special.

Some may argue as to the label of “greatest poem.” Indeed, Poe himself even challenged the designation, saying of his earlier poem The Sleeper (published in 1831), “In the higher qualities of poetry it is better than The Raven; but there is not one man in a million who could be brought to agree with me in this opinion.” And that’s our justification for labeling The Raven as Poe’s “greatest”: how many people, today, can quote The Sleeper?

Mr. Ingram can also be credited as the man who single-handedly course-corrected Poe’s literary reputation after the character assassination perpetrated by editor and poet Rufus Griswold1Rufus Wilmot Griswold (1815–1857) was an American anthologist, editor, poet, and critic. in his memoir of Poe published during the decade after Poe’s death.2Griswold, R. W. (1857). Memoir of the Author. The Works of the Late Edgar Allan Poe: with a Memoir by Rufus Wilmot Griswold and Notices of His Life and Genius by N.P. Willis and J. R. Lowell in Four Volumes. (pp. xxi–lv). Redfield. Griswold’s memoir painted Poe as a chronically drunk madman addicted to drugs, an inaccuracy that persists in some ways even today. Griswold, of course, had motive: Poe, while living, had been openly and publicly critical of Griswold’s work. Poe was no angel, though, so while both parties were certainly not blameless, history seems to point, in this instance, toward Poe being justified in his criticism.

It wasn’t until Ingram collected and published Poe’s works in monthly volumes during 1874–75, that the first accurate and reliable biography of Poe appeared, written by Ingram himself, wherein Ingram takes Griswold to task by spotlighting the many outright fabrications and inaccuracies in his “Memoir” and countering them with the true facts of Poe’s life — and the sources to prove it. We are reminded of that old adage: he who laughs last. . . .

The Critic for July 5, 1884, even notes Ingram’s contribution to Poe’s seemingly rocky reputation: “Mr. John H. Ingram is well-known to be a specialist on the subject of Edgar Allan Poe . . . Poe’s personal reputation owes much to Mr. Ingram, who has succeeded in removing some of the blackest blots thrown upon it by Griswold and others, though after all possible lustrations it comes out anything but spotless.”3Current Criticism.(1884, July 5). The Critic and Good Literature (27). pp.10-11.

Now, as for the text, we have updated some hyphened words to reflect their modern counterparts: master-piece is now masterpiece, et al.

We have also provided over 130 footnotes to better identify the many persons, works, and sources noted by Ingram. Additionally, we have retained his nine original footnotes and have set them out using asterisks.*Like this — and if multiple original footnotes appear in the same chapter, then we increase their number accordingly, like so.**

As a bonus, we have included Poe’s 1846 essay The Philosophy of Composition, both because Ingram quotes from it so extensively and because its inclusion seemed corollary as it is Poe’s own elucidation (or not) of the methods he employed to engineer The Raven.

Lastly, what more can we say?

“Only this, and nothing more.”