This is Poe's December 1844 note on novelist William Gilmore Simms:
"Mr. Simms has abundant faults—or had;—among which inaccurate English, a proneness to revolting images, and pet phrases, are the most noticeable. Nevertheless, leaving out of question Brockden Brown and Hawthorne (who are each a genus), he is immeasurably the best writer of fiction in America. He has more vigor, more imagination, more movement and more general capacity than all our novelists (save Cooper), combined." (p. 1342)
Poe's commendations have a touch of the back of the hand, don't they? (For another example, regarding Cooper, see here). That aside, notice the accuracy of Poe's judgment. Hawthorne, Cooper, Brockden Brown - that's our early American canon of fiction writers, almost. Just replace Simms - poor Simms, not quite good enough! - with Edgar Allan Poe.
Book reviews in Poe's time were anonymous, mostly. This led to no end of abuse, as can be seen in Lost Illusions, when talented, trivial Lucien writes a vicious attack on a novel, then returns to the good graces of the author by writing a postive review that attacks his own attack, in neither case having read the actual book.*
By 1845, Poe had become a famous writer, for "The Raven" and for a number of his stories, the same ones that are well-known now. He took the opportunity to review his own new volume of Tales. Let's see what he thinks of himself.
- "he has perfectly succeeded in his perfect aim" (869)
- "The style, we think, is good. Its philosophy is damnable; but this does not appear to have been a point with the author" (871)
- The detective stories are "inductive" "of profound and searching analysis" (872), although "The Purloined Letter" does not have the "continuous and absorbing interest" of the other two (872)
- Mr. Poe possesses the "power of simulation... in its full perfection" (873)
"The Mystery of Marie Roget", we are told, should help solve an actual crime in New York City. And that as good as Tales is, it does not even contain much of Poe's best work.
Is this all an elaborate joke - I mean, were readers in on it? I have no idea. There's a digressive paragraph atacking the editor who rejected "The Tell-Tale Heart" - is this a wink at readers, or genuine revenge?
* Anonymous reviews can be highly professional - see Virginia Woolf's critical essays, for example.