The Museum of Hoaxes
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The damp spot that hoaxed a city, 1912
Prof. Wingard's Death Ray Hoax, 1876
'Solar Armor' freezes man in Nevada Desert, 1874
Can a bar of soap between your sheets ease muscle cramps?
Bonsai Kittens, 2000
Bizarre pictographs of Emmanuel Domenech, 1860
The Great Electric Sugar Swindle, 1884
The Nobody For President Campaign, 1940 to Present
Rare planetary alignment decreases gravity, 1976
The Olympic Underwear Relay, 1956
The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym
As the Wilkes Expedition, organized by the U.S. Navy, prepared to depart for South America and Antarctica during the late 1830s, polar travel received a great deal of attention in America. This was the context in which a serialized tale authored by Edgar Allan Poe appeared in the Southern Literary Messenger in January and February, 1837. Titled "The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym," it presented the story of an explorer, Arthur Gordon Pym, who traveled to the polar latitudes where he suffered a mysterious demise.

The tale first appeared "under the garb of fiction," but when Poe republished it a year later as a novel, he added a preface claiming the work was factual. However, the story is so bizarre that it is certain most readers realized they were being presented with fiction.

The story was a dramatization of the beliefs of John Cleves Symmes, a man who promoted the theory that the earth was hollow and inhabited within. Symmes had long sought funding for a polar expedition (led by himself) so that he could prove his theory. Poe's fictional explorer, Pym, was on a similar quest.

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All text Copyright © 2014 by Alex Boese, except where otherwise indicated. All rights reserved.