"...Now we rushed into the embraces of the cataract, where a chasm threw
itself open to receive us. But there arose in our path-way a shrouded human
figure, very far larger in its proportions than any dweller among men. And
the hue of the skin of the figure was of the perfect whiteness of the snow."
Written by Edgar Allan Poe in the year of 1837 this novel tells the tale of Arthur Gordon Pym's adventures as a stow-away onboard the whaleboat "Grampus". The novel starts as a tale of exploration rivalling Jules Verne in scope and style. Pym's tale goes horribly wrong though, and before the book is finished it will have encompassed cannibalism, the evil of men, mutiny, death and disease.
It is written as a diary presented by Pym, where the diary has later been given to Poe for publication. This, combined with the style of writing, led people to believe the novel as a true travel story when it was initially published.
Early on in the pretext (Pym's letter to Poe) it becomes obvious that the final chapters are missing, and that an end to the book (beyond the survival of Pym) will not be forthcoming. This especially causes a foul taste in my mouth when the book abruptly ends just when the action starts (Neal Stephenson must have studied this book). Several attempts have been made at ending the book, including a competition. Chaosium's adventure "Beyond the Mountains of Madness" use this as an advantage to expand the text into an Call of Cthulhu adventure hook.
Poe has drawn heavily on Benjamin Morrell's A Narrative of Four Voyages when writing Pym - some sections are cited verbatim. Works that have been inspired by Pym include Lovecraft's At the mountains of madness (Tekeli-li!).