A Descent Into The Maelstrom PA 1916 – Published Oct 1928


At long last, we have a scan of the rare “A Descent Into The Maelstrom” in Gregg Shorthand.  The link about is from the Louis A. Leslie Collection at Rider.  I called them about the book last month when I learned that it was in their collection.  They told me that it was due to be scanned this month.  They sent me an email today telling me that it was scanned and gave me the link.  It works.  And the scan is great.

Per the printer’s code J-54, this copy was printed in October 1928.  I read somewhere that this book was first published in 1928.  This book was published in England and the US simultaneously without a copyright notice on the verso of the title page, so it went into the public domain when it was published in 1928.

This book is likely so rare because it came out less than a year before the 1929 Anniversary book and it was written in pre-anniversary 1916 Shorthand.

This book has Shorthand plates by Georgie Gregg Gingell, John Gregg’s niece.  I read through a few pages and verified that the plates are written in Pre-Anniversary Shorthand, which matches the 1916 Gregg Shorthand Manual.  Word like “Upon” (PN) and the missing “of the” between words close together are there.

The shorthand seems very neat.  What makes this book unusual is that all commas are included. 

This British edition includes photos and detailed descriptions of the pre-Anniversary novels written in Gregg Shorthand.

Here is a link to a public domain Edgar Allen Poe collection that includes the English text of this short story.

(by Paul for
group greggshorthand)

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10 comments Add yours
  1. I noted that this book is heavily abridged. To find the English translation in the English version, you have to skip through a long intro to find the part about the narrator owning a scooner with his brothers.

  2. Yes, it does skip over a lot at the beginning. If I remember right, the collection I checked out of the library a couple of months ago had three or four pages before the start of the narrator's story.

  3. Paul, your research is astounding. I'm very grateful for all the work you've done, and for all the materials you've called to our attention and kept from fading into oblivion. Please keep up the excellent work!

  4. I read through this book. It is most definitely pre-Anniversary shorthand that matches the 1916 Gregg Shorthand Manual. This is probably one of the last set of Shorthand plates written by Georgie Gregg Gingell.

    If you follow Gingell's progress through her early shorthand plates to this 1928 book, you will see a great improvement from her early work. For a while, she created most of the shorthand plates in the Gregg Writer. The earliest Gregg Shorthand novel by Gingell that I can find is her serialization of "Creeds of Great Business Men" in the Gregg Writer from 9-1916 to 2-1918. This was published in book form around 1-1919. I recently read the book. There were some proportion problems and flaws in her shorthand, but overall it was decent. Alice in Wonderland from 1919 contains some well written shorthand plates by Gingell. There are a few minor flaws, but they are a great improvement over her earlier work. The plates for "A Descent Into Maelstrom" are for the most part in perfect proportion. They are almost comparable to those plates written by Winifred Kenna Richmond, who is my favorite plate writer for these Gregg Novels.

  5. Despite the neatly written Shorthand plates, this book can be a real challenge to read, unless you are familiar with mostly archaic nautical terms. I don't know how many of these terms are archaic, because I cannot get past "deck," "port," and "starboard."

    The story takes place in Norway and consists of a narration by a man who survived the descent of his ship into a deadly whirlpool, referred to as Maelström. (I don't know Norwegian. Does that mean "bad storm"? They leave the umlat off of the English title everywhere in this Gregg book. So I'm not even sure how to pronounce Maelström.)

    Omitted from this shorthand book is a lengthy and boring 6 Page introduction that involves the narrator and survivor of the ship mishap overlooking the whirlpool from a cliff with another man. There is a long discourse about the geography of this real or fictitious region in Norway, describing the cliffs, bodies of water, and whirlpools in more detail than you would care to hear. (I do not know if this region really exists.)

    The Gregg Shorthand version starts at the point where the narrator who survived a boat trip into the whirlpool begins the story of his near brush with death. The Shorthand matches the English closely from this point on, except for a missing segment on the top of Page 16 in the Shorthand book. In the first line, you see 3 x's that indicate an omission of English text. I read the omitted text in the English version. It consists of several boring paragraphs that involve the narrator contemplating his impending death. He becomes calm and accepting and contemplates the wonder of the whirlpool. That text was a smart omission.

    I am not even sure why they picked this short story to write in Gregg Shorthand. There are much better short stories by Poe. Nevertheless, this is quite a find and a rare book that was mostly available in England before it became obsolete 9 months after it was first published.

  6. The Maelstrom whirlpool and the region really do exist, but Poe exaggerated the strength and violence of the current. The word maelstrom simply means whirlpool, from the early Dutch words for 'grinding stream.' At dictionary.reference.com, the pronunciation is given as MEYL-struhm.

    I read way too much.

    I agree, this was not one of Poe's best. It's actually a stronger story in the shorthand version.

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