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Any fans of Herman Melville?

  1. Feb 17, 2010 #1


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    I have just finished an assignment for which Herman Melville's short story "Bartleby, the Scrivener" was the story we had to explicate. I really enjoyed this story and I would recommend it to anyone, whether or not you're a Melville fan.

    I find his writing style to be highly entertaining. I have not read any of his other works, Moby-Dick probably being the most well-known, but if they are anything like "Bartleby, the Scrivener," I'm sure that I'll enjoy them.

    The http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Herman_Melville" [Broken] page for Melville suggested that Melville did not live up to his potential as a writer, yet Moby-Dick is widely regarded as one of the greatest novels in the English language.

    Are there any fans of Mr. Melville on PF? What do you like/dislike about his prose?
    Last edited by a moderator: May 4, 2017
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  3. Feb 17, 2010 #2


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    Bartleby the Scrivener was a good one. I enjoyed Moby Dick too, even moreso after I found out that Melville based it on the true story of Mocha Dick. Mocha Dick was a white sperm whale that attacked ships around his territory (the Mocha Islands) and intentionally rammed and sank the whaler Essex after whale boats from the Essex attacked his pod. Many of the crew didn't make it back - lost to starvation, dehydration and cannibalism as they tried to make it to South America in their small whale-boats. Ironically, they were afraid to head for the Marquesas (nearby islands) because they were scared of cannibals.
  4. Feb 17, 2010 #3


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  5. Feb 18, 2010 #4


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    I'll have to make some time to read it. The cannibal situation makes me laugh. What would classic literature be without heaps of irony? I think I'll enjoy it. :biggrin:
  6. Feb 25, 2010 #5
    Bartleby is a fantastic story, but I have yet to read anything more by Melville. For a literature major, that's pretty bad!
  7. Feb 25, 2010 #6


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    The cannibalism angle was in the TRUE story of the Essex. That's not a real factor in Moby Dick. Melville found out about the Essex details by shipping out with a nephew (IIR) of the Essex's first mate. Drawing from this, he came up with a character who was a whaling-captain who was driven, personally enraged (by a whale), and bent on revenge.

    BTW, the whaling-ships sailing out of Massachusetts seemed to have a lot of Quakers as owners. Whaling required large up-front investments in ships, gear, supplies, provisions, crews, and might only pay back after your ship came back well-loaded after a cruise of a couple of years or more. That's a pretty scary business model.
  8. Feb 26, 2010 #7


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    Well I only read Moby Dick in high school, and what irritates me about literature is that it sometimes takes a 1000 pages to get across a point so simple it could be done in a sonnet.
  9. Mar 1, 2010 #8
    I love Melville. I think I've read everything he wrote. If you liked Moby Dick, I recommend White Jacket, his other sea voyage book, and also Typee, the story of his adoption by unspoiled South Sea Islanders on one of the Marquesas Islands. Both these books are believed to be essentially autobiographical accounts. They're not as dramatic as Moby Dick, but great reads anyway.
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