Herman Melville

Novelist, Author

1819 – 1891

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Who was Herman Melville?

Herman Melville was an American writer best known for the novel Moby-Dick. His first three books gained much contemporary attention, but after a fast-blooming literary success in the late 1840s, his popularity declined precipitously in the mid-1850s and never recovered during his lifetime.

When he died in 1891, he was almost completely forgotten. It was not until the "Melville Revival" in the early 20th century that his work won recognition, especially Moby-Dick, which was hailed as one of the literary masterpieces of both American and world literature. In 1919, the unfinished manuscript for his novella Billy Budd was discovered by his first biographer, who published a version in 1924 which was acclaimed by notable British critics as another masterpiece of Melville's. He was the first writer to have his works collected and published by the Library of America.

Famous Quotes:

  • There is the grand truth about Nathaniel Hawthorne. He says NO! in thunder; but the Devil himself cannot make him say yes. For all men who say yes, lie; and all men who say no,why, they are in the happy condition of judicious, unincumbered travellers in Europe; they cross the frontiers into Eternity with nothing but a carpet-bag,that is to say, the Ego. Whereas those yes-gentry, they travel with heaps of baggage, and, damn them! they will never get through the Custom House.
  • Let us speak, though we show all our faults and weaknesses, --for it is a sign of strength to be weak, to know it, and out with it -- not in a set way and ostentatiously, though, but incidentally and without premeditation.
  • We may have civilized bodies and yet barbarous souls. We are blind to the real sights of this world; deaf to its voice; and dead to its death. And not till we know, that one grief outweighs ten thousand joys will we become what Christianity is striving to make us.
  • Let me look into a human eye; it is better than to gaze into sea or sky; better than to gaze upon God.
  • I feel that the Godhead is broken up like the bread at the Supper, and that we are the pieces. Hence this infinite fraternity of feeling.
  • For whatever is truly wondrous and fearful in man, never yet was put into words or books.
  • The lightning flashes through my skull; mine eyeballs ache and ache; my whole beaten brain seems as beheaded, and rolling on some stunning ground.
  • How it is I know not; but there is no place like a bed for confidential disclosures between friends. Man and wife, they say, there open the very bottom of their souls to each other; and some old couples often lie and chat over old times till nearly morning. Thus, then, in our hearts honeymoon, lay I and Queequeg -- a cozy, loving pair.
  • If some books are deemed most baneful and their sale forbid, how, then, with deadlier facts, not dreams of doting men? Those whom books will hurt will not be proof against events. Events, not books, should be forbid.
  • But it is better to fail in originality than to succeed in imitation.

Citation

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"Herman Melville." Biographies.net. STANDS4 LLC, 2020. Web. 25 Feb. 2020. <https://www.biographies.net/people/en/herman_melville>.


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Born
Aug 1, 1819
Manhattan
Also known as
  • Herman Melville d'après Pierre ou les Ambiguïtés
Parents
Siblings
Spouses
Children
Ethnicity
  • Dutch-American
Nationality
  • United States of America
Profession
Education
  • Columbia Grammar & Preparatory School
  • Lansingburgh Academy
  • The Albany Academy
    (1830/10 - 1831/10)
  • The Albany Academy
    (1836/10 - 1837/03)
Lived in
  • Albany
  • Pittsfield
  • New York City
Died
Sep 28, 1891
New York City
Resting place
Woodlawn Cemetery

Submitted
on July 23, 2013