A Strange Discovery. [ How We Found Dirk Peters].

An 1899 novel intended as a sequel to Poe’s Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pymin which Poe’s character Dirk Peters provides the ending to Poe’s story. The action takes place far from the sea, in Bellevue, Illinois, but is laced with several accounts of reading experiences. The story itself is firmly within the hollow earth tradition.

p. 32-33, on the reading of another character in Dake’s novel, Dr. Bainbridge: It appeared to me as we talked through the evening, that he had read about all that I had read, and much besides. He talked of English and French history with minute familiarity. Not only had he read English, French, and German literature, with such Spanish, Russian, and Italian works as had been translated into English; but he shamed me with the thoroughness of his knowledge of Scott, Dickens, Bulwer, Thackeray, and others of our best writers of fiction. Goethe he particularly admired. Of Cervantes he thought with the rest of us: He had read "Don Quixote," for the first time, when he was eighteen, and during a severe illness accompanied with intense melancholia; and he had laughed himself out of bed, and out of his melancholy. "Don Quixote " was, he said, the only book which he had ever read in solitude — that is, read to himself — which had compelled him to laugh aloud. Works of science, particularly scientific works in the domain of physics, he delighted in. His imagination was of a most charming character.

p. 34-35, again with Bainbridge: By the time we had smoked out a cigar

apiece, we were exchanging views and comments on such writers, English and American, as came to mind. One of the books that lay on my table was a copy of Byron; though most of the others were the works

of American authors — Hawthorne, Irving, Longfellow, Poe, and one or two others. He had picked up my Byron, and glancing at it had remarked that if all the poets were like Byron he would devote more time than he did to the reading of verse. I recall a remark that, with Byron’s personality in mind, he made as he returned the book to the table. "Poor fellow ! "he said. "But what are we to expect of a man who had a

volcano for a mother, and an iceberg for a wife? A woman’s character is largely formed by the quality of men that enter into her life; a man’s, even more so by the quality of women that enter into his. I wonder if Byron ever intimately knew a true woman? — a woman at once intellectually and morally normal, in a good wholesome way — a

woman with a good brain and a warm heart? No man, in my opinion, is a really good man save through the influence of good women." [Other examples of reading are on p. 40 and 44 (Poe), 74 (Pym), 103ff (the unmade American author of “The Mistakes of the Gods, and Other Lectures.”

p. 74-75, on the tradition of a warm and delightful Antarctic: Now, one day in New York, about three years ago, I allowed myself a holiday, as was my custom from time to time after a period of severe study. On the day I speak of I entered the Astor Library, and was permitted to wander at my pleasure among the books. I carried in my hand one of the small camp stools which stood around the room, and whenever I found a book that particularly interested me, I would sit down and look it over. You understand, I was dissipating in this great treasure-house of books. About the middle of the afternoon I found myself in one of the most unfrequented of the library alcoves. There, on a shelf so high that I could just see over its edge as I stood on one of the library step-ladders, I found a strange little book, purporting to have been written in 1594. It

had fallen down behind the other books. It had a leather back, well-worn; I saw that it was a 1728 Leipsic publication; and possibly came to the Astor Library by presentation from its wise and liberal founder’s private library — though this is pure surmise. The book read much like other tales of the time, so far as its form went. I sat down to look at it — and I did not arise until I had read it to its end, some three hours later. I had not read two pages’ before I became satisfied that the book had more truth than fiction in it. To have assumed it wholly the work of imagination, I should have had to admit that the author was an artist of artists, exceeding, through his artfulness, in naturalness, all other fiction-writers. No; there was truth behind the statements in the little book —

truth at second or third hand, but truth.