Nevermore!

Opening lines from the 1884 publication of "The Raven," from the State Library of Ohio Rare Books Collection on Ohio Memory.
Opening lines from the 1884 version of “The Raven,” from the State Library of Ohio Rare Books Collection on Ohio Memory.
Title page from the 1884 volume.
Title page from the 1884 volume.

Last week, in preparation for Halloween, we told you about haunted houses here in Ohio. This week, we’re moving to an individual who is haunted by lost love.

“The Raven,” first published by Edgar Allan Poe in 1845, tells the story of an unnamed narrator who is mourning the loss of his love, Lenore. In response to tapping, he opens his window to find a raven, which flies into the room and perches on a bust of Pallas. He decides to acquaint himself with the raven, having attempted, in vain, to use other means of distraction from his mourning of his lost Lenore. He soon discovers that the raven can talk, and is amused by the raven’s response of “nevermore” to his every question.

However, when he asks the raven if he will again be with his Lenore and the raven issues an identical response, he becomes increasingly despondent. With each question, and each subsequent “nevermore,” he descends further into madness. As the poem concludes, the narrator lies on the floor in the shadow of the raven, who still is sitting on the bust of Pallas.

Doré's illustration for the lines "Doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before."
Doré’s illustration for the line “Doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before.”

The volume of “The Raven” that is now in Ohio Memory is illustrated by Gustave Doré, a 19th century French engraver. He worked primarily in wood, though used steel as his medium for the illustrations found in this volume. The illustrations are exquisite, featuring extraordinary detail and drawing upon the gothic nature of the poem to elicit an emotional response from the reader. Sadly, Doré died prior to the volume’s publication.

The digitized version of the volume has been broken down into 27 smaller parts, due to the sheer size of the book in digital format. Each part is labeled for ease of access, and illustrations – which depict a line or two from sections of the poem – are each given their own part. The files are large, but please do not let this deter you from accessing them. Truly, they are incredible, and are worth viewing not just at Halloween, but at any time.

We hope that you will enjoy this book and the many other wonderful items in Ohio Memory!

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Thank you to Shannon Kupfer, Digital/Tangible Media Cataloger at the State Library of Ohio, for this week’s post!

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