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Herman Melville

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About This Author
Herman Melville was born in 1819 in New York City. After his father's death he left school for a series of clerical jobs before going to sea as a young man of nineteen. At twenty-one he shipped aboard the whaler Acushnet and began a series of adventures in the South Seas that would last for three years and form the basis for his first two novels, Typee and Omoo. Although these two novels sold well and gained for Melville a measure of fame, nineteenth-century readers were puzzled by the experiments with form that he began with his third novel, Mardi, and continued brilliantly in his masterpiece, Moby-Dick. During his later years spent working as a customs inspector on the New York docks, Melville published only poems, compiled in a collection entitled Battle-Pieces, and died in 1891 with Billy Budd, Sailor, now considered a classic, still unpublished.
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Herman Melville was born in 1819 in New York City. After his father's death he left school for a series of clerical jobs before going to sea as a young man of nineteen. At twenty-one he shipped aboard the whaler Acushnet and began a series of adventures in the South Seas that would last for three years and form the basis for his first two novels, Typee and Omoo. Although these two novels sold well and gained for Melville a measure of fame, nineteenth-century readers were puzzled by the experiments with form that he began with his third novel, Mardi, and continued brilliantly in his masterpiece, Moby-Dick. During his later years spent working as a customs inspector on the New York docks, Melville published only poems, compiled in a collection entitled Battle-Pieces, and died in 1891 with Billy Budd, Sailor, now considered a classic, still unpublished.
Books by thisAuthor
  • Moby Dick

    Moby Dick
    Killing a sixty-ton sperm whale that could destroy a boat with a flick of its massive tail was no easy task. Whalemen of the early nineteenth century were not just hunters, they were also explorers—sailing on the uncharted sea in search of some of the largest creatures on earth. The most famous whale of all? Moby Dick. Here are Ishmael, Queequeq, Ahab, and of course, Moby Dick, rendered anew in a dynamic comic book adaptation of one of the greatest American novels ever written. The book also includes information about Herman Melville, facts about whales, and the history of the whaling industry. With all the flare and blaze of Melville’s original story, Moby Dick is sure to intrigue a new generation of readers with this fast-paced and electric portrayal of the famous battle between man and beast.

    Typee

    Typee
    A Peep at Polynesian Life
    Typee is a fast-moving adventure tale, an autobiographical account of the author's Polynesian stay, an examination of the nature of good and evil, and a frank exploration of sensuality and exotic ritual.

    The Piazza Tales

    The Piazza Tales
    A fantastic read for any scholar or student interested in philosophy, epistemology, or ontology.

    The Confidence-Man

    The Confidence-Man
    “In The Confidence-Man,” writes John Bryant in his Introduction, “Melville found a way to render our tragic sense of self and society through the comic strategies of the confidence game. He puts the reader in the game to play its parts and to contemplate the inconsistencies of its knaves and fools.” Set on a Mississippi steamer on April Fool’s Day and populated by a series of shape-shifting con men, The Confidence-Man is a challenging metaphysical and ethical exploration of antebellum American society. Set from the first American edition of 1857, this Modern Library paperback includes an Appendix with Bryant’s innovative “fluid text” analysis of early manuscript fragments from Melville’s novel. From the Trade Paperback edition.

  • Billy Budd, Sailor

    Billy Budd, Sailor
    Enriched Classics offer readers accessible editions of great works of literature enhanced by helpful notes and commentary. Each book includes educational tools alongside the text, enabling students and readers alike to gain a deeper and more developed understanding of the writer and their work. Billy Budd, Sailor has been called the best short novel ever written. In his brilliantly condensed prose, Herman Melville fashions a legal parable in which reason and intellect prove incapable of preserving innocence in the face of evil. For all those who feel themselves threatened by a hostile and inflexible environment, there is special significance in this haunting story of a handsome sailor who becomes a victim of man’s intransigence. Enriched Classics enhance your engagement by introducing and explaining the historical and cultural significance of the work, the author’s personal history, and what impact this book had on subsequent scholarship. Each book includes discussion questions that help clarify and reinforce major themes and reading recommendations for further research. Read with confidence.

    Omoo

    Omoo
    A Narrative of Adventures in the South Seas
    Melville’s continuing adventures in the South Seas—now for the first time in Penguin Classics Following the commercial and critical success of Typee, Herman Melville continued his series of South Sea adventure-romances with Omoo. Named after the Polynesian term for a rover, or someone who roams from island to island, Omoo chronicles the tumultuous events aboard a South Sea whaling vessel and is based on Melville’s personal experiences as a crew member on a ship sailing the Pacific. From recruiting among the natives for sailors to handling deserters and even mutiny, Melville gives a first-person account of life as a sailor during the nineteenth century filled with colorful characters and vivid descriptions of the far-flung locales of Polynesia.

    Redburn

    Redburn
    Drawn from Melville’s own adolescent experience aboard a merchant ship, Redburn charts the coming-of-age of Wellingborough Redburn, a young innocent who embarks on a crossing to Liverpool together with a roguish crew. Once in Liverpool, Redburn encounters the squalid conditions of the city and meets Harry Bolton, a bereft and damaged soul, who takes him on a tour of London that includes a scene of rococo decadence unlike anything else in Melville’s fiction. In her Introduction, Elizabeth Hardwick writes, “Redburn is rich in masterful portraits—a gallery of wild colors, pretensions and falsehoods, fleeting associations of unexpected tenderness. . . . Redburn is not a document; it is a work of art by the unexpected genius of a sailor, Herman Melville.” This Modern Library Paperback Classic is set from the text of the first American edition of 1849.

    Israel Potter

    Israel Potter
    His Fifty Years of Exile
    The authoritative edition of Melville's only historical novel Based on the life of an actual soldier who claimed to have fought at Bunker Hill, Israel Potter is unique among Herman Melville's books: a novel in the guise of a biography. In telling the story of Israel Potter's fall from Revolutionary War hero to peddler on the streets of London, where he obtained a livelihood by crying "Old Chairs to Mend," Melville alternated between invented scenes and historical episodes, granting cameos to such famous men of the era as Benjamin Franklin (Potter may have been his secret courier) and John Paul Jones, and providing a portrait of the American Revolution as the rollicking adventure and violent series of events that it really was. This edition of Israel Potter, which reproduces the definitive text, includes selections from Potter's autobiography, Life and Remarkable Adventures of Israel R. Potter, the basis for Melville's novel.

  • Moby-Dick

    Moby-Dick
    Herman Melville's peerless allegorical masterpiece is the epic saga of the fanatical Captain Ahab, who swears vengeance on the mammoth white whale that has crippled him. Often considered to be the Great American Novel, Moby-Dick is at once a starkly realistic story of whaling, a romance of unusual adventure, and a searing drama of heroic courage, moral conflict, and mad obsession. It is world-renowned as the greatest sea story ever told. Moby-Dick, widely misunderstood in its own time, has since become an indubitable classic of American literature.

    Bartleby, the Scrivener: A Story of Wall-Street

    Bartleby, the Scrivener: A Story of Wall-Street
    Herman Melville was an 18th century American novelist, poet, essayist and short story writer. He is best known for his works Moby Dick and Typee. During his lifetime he was considered a failure, but after his death his worth as a writer was recognized. Bartleby is a novella, which first appeared in Putnam's Magazine. The narrator is an elderly lawyer who helps his clients with mortgages, titles and bonds. The lawyer's office has two employees Nippers and Turkey. Turkey is a drunk and Nippers has indigestion. The office is able to function because Nippers indigestion is at a time when Turkey is sober and Turkey is hung over when Nippers is feeling better. Bartleby is hired in the hopes that his temperament will calm down the office. As the story progresses Melville brings a sense of the human condition as seen through the eyes of a lowly employee.

    I and My Chimney

    I and My Chimney
    A short story from the Classic Shorts collection: The Happy Failure by Herman Melville

    Battle-Pieces and Aspects of the War

    Battle-Pieces and Aspects of the War
    Civil War Poems
    This reprint of an 1866 volume of poems by the author of Moby Dick and Billy Budd includes four essays showing why Melville's verse with its unconventional linking of literary form and political-military history remains misunderstood and neglected. Princeton University historian James M. McPherson's preface thoughtfully discusses the import of Melville's book as a Civil War document. The introduction sketches Melville's pre-war concern with slavery in Moby Dick (1851) and Benito Cereno (1856). The seventy-two deeply moving, austerely beautiful lyrical poems about the Civil War include works on the hanging of John Brown, the assassination of Abraham Lincoln, and the battles at Donelson, Shiloh, and Gettysburg. Harvard University critic Helen Vendler's essay argues that Melville's innovative manner of transforming this epic matter of history into a new kind of lyric poem makes for arresting and wholly original poetry. For Boston University poet Rosanna Warren, the irregularity of Melville's verse forces readers to participate in the process of arriving at a dark knowledge of war. According to Richard Cox, the organization of Melville's poems conveys that the passions of the war will not cease and yet they seem to continue Abraham Lincoln's task of binding the nation's wounds. Paul Dowling reveals how the poet reshaped the war, distorting history to moderate wartime passions and to imitate Shakespeare's philosophical (but unpopular) dramas. Students and scholars of American literature and history, as well as Civil War enthusiasts, will welcome this outstanding new publication of a long-neglected volume of political poetry by one of America's classic novelists.

  • Bartleby the Scrivener

    Bartleby the Scrivener
    "I prefer not to," he respectfully and slowly said, and mildly disappeared. Academics hail it as the beginning of modernism, but to readers around the world—even those daunted by Moby-Dick—Bartleby the Scrivener is simply one of the most absorbing and moving novellas ever. Set in the mid-19th century on New York City’s Wall Street, it was also, perhaps, Herman Melville's most prescient story: what if a young man caught up in the rat race of commerce finally just said, "I would prefer not to"? The tale is one of the final works of fiction published by Melville before, slipping into despair over the continuing critical dismissal of his work after Moby-Dick, he abandoned publishing fiction. The work is presented here exactly as it was originally published in Putnam's magazine—to, sadly, critical disdain. The Art of The Novella Series Too short to be a novel, too long to be a short story, the novella is generally unrecognized by academics and publishers. Nonetheless, it is a form beloved and practiced by literature's greatest writers. In the Art Of The Novella series, Melville House celebrates this renegade art form and its practitioners with titles that are, in many instances, presented in book form for the first time.

    Mardi and a Voyage Thither

    Mardi and a Voyage Thither

    Billy Budd

    Billy Budd
    Tor Classics are affordably-priced editions designed to attract the young reader. Original dynamic cover art enthusiastically represents the excitement of each story. Appropriate "reader friendly" type sizes have been chosen for each title--offering clear, accurate, and readable text. All editions are complete and unabridged, and feature Introductions and Afterwords. This edition of Billy Budd includes a Foreword, Biographical Note, and Afterword by James Gunn. Aboard the warship Bellipotent, the young orphan Billy Budd was called the handsome sailor. Billy was tall, athletic, nobel looking; he was friendly, innocent, helpful and ever-cheerful. He was a fierce fighter and a loyal friend. All the men and officers liked him... All but one: Master-at-Arms Claggart. Envious, petty Claggart plotted to make Billy's life miserable. But when a fear of mutinies swept through the fleet, Claggart realized he could do more than just torment the Handsome Sailor...He could frame Billy Budd for treason...

    Benito Cereno

    Benito Cereno
    "What has cast such a shadow upon you?" "The Negro." With its intense mix of mystery, adventure, and a surprise ending, Benito Cereno at first seems merely a provocative example from the genre Herman Melville created with his early best-selling novels of the sea. However, most Melville scholars consider it his most sophisticated work, and many, such as novelist Ralph Ellison, have hailed it as the most piercing look at slavery in all of American literature. Based on a real life incident—the character names remain unchanged—Benito Cereno tells what happens when an American merchant ship comes upon a mysterious Spanish ship where the nearly all-black crew and their white captain are starving and yet hostile to offers of help. Melville's most focused political work, it is rife with allusions (a ship named after Santo Domingo, site of the slave revolt led by Toussaint L'Ouverture), analogies (does the good-hearted yet obtuse American captain refer to the American character itself?), and mirroring images that deepen our reflections on human oppression and its resultant depravities. It is, in short, a multi-layered masterpiece that rewards repeated readings, and deepens our appreciation of Melville's genius. The Art of The Novella Series Too short to be a novel, too long to be a short story, the novella is generally unrecognized by academics and publishers. Nonetheless, it is a form beloved and practiced by literature's greatest writers. In the Art Of The Novella series, Melville House celebrates this renegade art form and its practitioners with titles that are, in many instances, presented in book form for the first time. From the Trade Paperback edition.

  • Moby-Dick

    Moby-Dick
    or, The Whale (Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition)
    Herman Melville’s masterpiece, one of the greatest works of imagination in literary history   Over a century and a half after its publication, Moby-Dick still stands as an indisputable literary classic. It is the story of an eerily compelling madman pursuing an unholy war against a creature as vast and dangerous and unknowable as the sea itself. But more than just a novel of adventure, more than an encyclopedia of whaling lore and legend, Moby-Dick is a haunting, mesmerizing, and important social commentary populated with several of the most unforgettable and enduring characters in literature. Never losing its cultural prescence, Melville’s nautical epic has inspired many films over the years, including the upcoming adaptation of Nathanael Philbrick’s In the Heart of the Sea, starring Chris Hemsworth, Cillian Murphy, Ben Wishaw, and Brendan Gleeson, and directed by Ron Howard. Written with wonderfully redemptive humor, Moby-Dick is a profound and timeless inquiry into character, faith, and the nature of perception. This Penguin Classics deluxe edition features a foreword by Nathaniel Philbrick and cover art by Tony Milliionaire.

    Mardi

    Mardi
    And a Voyage Thither
    Herman Melville's Mardi (1849) has stood the test of time as a superb allegorical fantasy, and as the third in a trilogy reflecting on Melville's experiences on the sea. Set on a fictional Pacific island, this adventure, love story, and exploration of the metaphysical sets the stage for later writers in the twentieth century who delve into the psychological.

    The Happy Failure

    The Happy Failure
    Stories
    "Melville at his best invariably wrote from a sort of dream self, so that events which he relates as actual fact have indeed a far deeper reference to his own soul, his own inner life." - D.H. Lawrence. Here are ten stories that represent some of the best short work of American master Herman Melville, including "Bartleby, the Scrivener: A Story of Wall-Street," "The Happy Failure," and "The Paradise of Bachelors and The Tartarus of Maids." Alongside THE HAPPY FAILURE, Harper Perennial will publish the short fiction of Fyodor Dostoevsky, Leo Tolstoy, Willa Cather, Stephen Crane, and Oscar Wilde to be packaged in a beautifully designed, boldly colorful boxset in the aim to attract contemporary fans of short fiction to these revered masters of the form. Also, in each of these selections will appear a story from one of the new collections being published in the "Summer of the Short Story." A story from Alex Burrett's forthcoming collection, MY GOAT ATE ITS OWN LEGS, will be printed at the back of this volume.

    Pierre, or the Ambiguities

    Pierre, or the Ambiguities
    Kraken Edition, The

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