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              Herman Melville

              A picture of the author Herman Melville

              Herman Melville belongs to the group of artists whose works grew in importance and stature after their death. His works exemplify the genre of Dark Romanticism. Born in New York City in 1819, he published Moby-Dick; or The Whale in 1851, the year before Harriet Beecher Stowe was to publish Uncle Tom's Cabin and the year after Nathanial Hawthorne published The Scarlet Letter. Melville dedicated the book to fellow Dark Romantic, Nathaniel Hawthorne: "In token of my admiration for his genius, this book is inscribed to Nathaniel Hawthorne."

              Herman Melville grew up listening to seafaring tales. Melville was enthralled with the yarns about whaling expeditions and other adventures at sea. In 1839, at the age of twenty, he took to the seas himself, starting off as a cabin boy on the merchant ship St. Lawrence. January of 1841 found him aboard the whaling ship Acushent. After a string of adventures, some of them rather misbegotten, he left the sea and settled into his mother's house in the fall of 1844, determined to write about his adventures.

              Herman Melville quoteHis first manuscript, for the novel Typee was turned down in America, partly because the publishers had difficulty believing the tales were true. The book was published in England in February 1846 and launched his career and ambitions. Things progressed well for Melville; he published more novels and on an upswing in his career he married Elizabeth Shaw, the daughter of the Chief Justice of Massachusetts. Melville burnished his portfolio, quickly turning out Omoo in 1847, Mardi in 1849, then Redburn in 1849, and White-Jacket in 1850.

              Then Herman Melville turned to a higher amibtion, the writing of Moby-Dick. In June of 1850, he described the book to his publisher in England as, "a romance of adventure, founded upon certain wild legends in the Southern Sperm Whale Fisheries." In early August, Melville met and became friends with Nathaniel Hawthorne, to whom Moby-Dick would be dedicated. The novel appeared in England on October 18th, 1851 as The Whale and on November 14th in America where it as published as Moby-Dick. Unfortunately, the novel was not well recieved and it marked a turn in Melville's fortunes. It was disliked by critics and only sold 3,000 copies during his lifetime.

              Unlike his contemporaries, Melville's career faded after the publication of Moby Dick and he was considered a failure when he passed away in 1891; the local paper where he died referred to him as a "long forgotten" author. His work was widely recognized after his death and Melville has taken his place amongst the literary giants.

              Herman Melville dedicated Moby Dick to Nathaniel Hawthorne writing: "In token of my admiration for his genius, this book is inscribed to Nathaniel Hawthorne."

              You may enjoy reading D.H. Lawrence's chapters dedicated to Melville and Moby Dick in his book, Studies in Classic American Literature.

              Consider visiting American Literature's collection of Moby Dick illustrations on Pinterest.

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              Short Stories


              A Meditation
              An Uninscribed Monument
              A Requiem
              Aurora Borealis
              A Utilitarian View Of The Monitor's Fight
              Ball's Bluff
              Bridegroom Dick 1876
              Commemorative Of A Naval Victory
              Epilogue (Clarel)
              Far Off-Shore
              "Formerly A Slave"
              From The Conflict Of Convictions
              Herba Santa
              In The Prison Pen
              Jack Roy
              John Marr And Other Sailors
              Lines Traced Under An Image Of Amor Threatening
              Lone Founts
              Malvern Hill
              Off Cape Colonna
              Old Counsel
              On The Grave Of A Young Cavalry Officer Killed In The Valley Of Virginia
              On The Photograph Of A Corps Commander
              On The Slain At Chickamauga
              On The Slain Collegians
              Pipe Song
              Rebel Color-Bearers At Shiloh
              Sheridan At Cedar Creek
              Song Of Yoomy
              Stonewall Jackson
              Supplement (Timoleon)
              The Aeolian Harp
              The Apparition
              The Bench Of Boors
              The Berg
              The College Colonel
              The Enthusiast
              The Enviable Isles
              The Figure-Head
              The Fortitude Of The North
              The Good Craft Snow Bird
              The Haglets
              The House-Top
              The Land Of Love
              The Maldive Shark
              The Man-Of-War Hawk
              The March Into Virginia
              The Martyr
              The Mound By The Lake
              The New Zealot To The Sun
              The Night March
              The Portent
              The Ravaged Villa
              The Released Rebel Prisoner
              The Stone Fleet
              The Swamp Angel
              The Temeraire
              The Tuft Of Kelp
              Tom Deadlight
              To Ned
              To The Master Of The Meteor
              We Fish


              Anton Chekhov
              Nathaniel Hawthorne
              Susan Glaspell
              Mark Twain
              Edgar Allan Poe
              Mary E. Wilkins Freeman
              Herman Melville
              Stephen Leacock
              Kate Chopin
              Bj?rnstjerne Bj?rnson