As the success of his essay “The Philosophy of Composition” suggests, Poe’s readers may be especially eager to believe stories concerning his own writing life. Poe himself exploits this tendency, presenting his tales and criticism to substantial audiences with several dramatic flourishes. First, his “Exordium to Critical Notices” (Graham’s Magazine, January 1842) and other articles offer the self-portrait of a patriot combating the popular and critical taste for British authors and their American imitators. Second, his provocative tales, criticism and autobiographical writings promote his reception as a discerning reader, an analyst of literary strategy and of human nature. Third, Poe’s encouraging readers to view him as an aesthete engaged in lifelong mourning has attracted readers ready to identify with him in his struggles. Finally, Poe’s incessant foregrounding of the puns and hoaxes he offers his readers identifies him as a literary diddler or confidence man passing himself off as an American original.1 In enabling these literary personae, Poe employs a self-reflexive language that renders his works a how-to guide for circulating one’s work and building a literary reputation.