Drawn back to the city of his birth—physically in 1827, 1845, and 1848, and imaginatively throughout his career as a writer and literary theorist—Edgar Allan Poe began by embracing Bostonian didacticism and then wielded his tomahawk against it. Over the course of his career as an active literary critic and book reviewer, Poe repeatedly, even obsessively, assailed the Boston literati with some of his most barbed phrases and neologisms, including the “coterie in Boston,” “Bookseller-coteries,” “coterie of abolitionists, transcendentalists and fanatics in general,” “Longfellow junto,” “junto of dreamers,” “knot of rogues and madmen,” “Crazyites,” and, most famously, “Frogpondians.” (See CL 1:493; Graham's Magazine, January 1842; “Longfellow's Poems,” Aristidean, April 1845; “Review of Orion,” Graham's Magazine, March 1844; and “Editorial Miscellany,” Broadway Journal, December 13, 1845.)

Many of these insults were hurled in the runup to and aftermath of Poe's Lyceum lecture on October...

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