Tales of the Grotesque and Arabesque is a collection of previously-published short stories by Edgar Allan Poe.
It was published by the Philadelphia firm Lea & Blanchard and released in two volumes. The publisher was willing to print the anthology based on the recent success of Poe's story "The Fall of the House of Usher." Even so, Lea & Blanchard would not pay Poe any royalties; his only payment was 20 free copies. Poe had sought Washington Irving to endorse the book, writing to him, "If I could be permitted to add even a word or two from yourself... my fortune would be made."
In his preface, Poe wrote the now-famous quote defending himself from the criticism that his tales were part of "Germanism". He wrote, "If in many of my productions terror has been the thesis, I maintain that terror is not of Germany but of the soul".
The collection was dedicated to Colonel William Drayton, whom Poe likely met while stationed in Charleston, South Carolina; when Drayon moved to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Poe continued to correspond with him. Drayton was a former member of Congress turned judge and may have subsidized the book's publication.
Contemporary reviews were mixed. The anonymous critic in the Boston Notion suggested that Poe's work was better suited for readers of the future; people of the time should consider it "below the average of newspaper trash... wild, unmeaning, pointless, aimless... without anything of elevated fancy or fine humor." Alexander's Weekly Messenger, on the other hand, remarked that the stories were the "playful effusion of a remarkable and powerful intellect." Likewise, the New York Mirror complimented the author's intellectual capacity, his vivid descriptions, and his opulent imagination. Even with those positive reviews, the edition did not sell well. When Poe requested a second release in 1841 with eight additional tales included, the publisher declined.