Archives for posts with tag: Herman Melville

Hi all:
As those of you who’ve been following me for a while will remember, recently I revisited my first post. I’ve also been thinking of some of the posts that I (and you, my readers) have enjoyed since I started blogging, and I’ve realised I really enjoyed the posts I created about authors that have become classics. I’m thinking of trying to feature one of those posts at regular intervals (if I can fit them in, once a month) and thought we could revisit some of the good oldies back first to kick it off.
This is the first classic I brought you almost two years ago, Herman Melville. (The original post follows)
I usually have a guest post on Fridays. Today isn’t going to be an exception. Only instead of bringing you one of the new writers I’ve met, I thought I’d bring you a dead author. He’s surely dead, but I didn’t think that should prevent me from having him as a guest. After all zombies and vampires are all the rage these days and they’re dead too so…
I’ve been corresponding with a friend and fellow author, Mary Meddlemore and talking about reading and classics. And as I love Melville, I thought, why not? There’s also the advantage that many of his works can be downloaded for free, so it’s a win-win situation.
I have a BA in American Literature and I must say that although I knew of Melville I became more familiar with him when I was studying for my degree. I read Moby Dick several times. I must admit it’s a bit of a peculiar read (and fairly long), but I fell truly in love with it. It is ambitious, wandering, deep, funny, moving, dramatic, elegiac, philosophical, adventurous, scholarly, and bigger than life. Good candidate to the ever sought after title of The Great American Novel. Its opening lines: ‘Call me Ishmael.’ are well known and as good first lines as I’ve ever read. Simple but…
I post you links to detailed biographies of Melville.

Link to Virginia Education biography on Herman Melville. Great page.

http://xroads.virginia.edu/~HYPER/bb/hm_bio.html

Another fabulous page on Herman Melville and his later recognition

http://www.poemhunter.com/poems/nature/

melv[1]

A brief summary: He was born in New York in August 1, 1819 and died in September 28, 1891, forgotten by most, to the point where his obituary listed him as ‘Henry’ Melville. He travelled the South Seas, he became known for his adventure/exotic novels (Typee, Omoo) but later deviated onto more serious writing and never quite recovered the popularity of his youth. Moby Dick (or The Whale as it was initially published) is his best known work and masterpiece, although he carried on writing, with less and less success, to the point that he stopped publishing, worked as a customs inspector in New York, and some of his works, like Billy Budd were published posthumously.
Why do I like him so much? I feel he was ahead of his time. He reminds me of the modernists (if somebody can remind you of people who came after him) and works like ‘Bartleby the Scrivener’ (that I can’t recommend enough) and ‘The Confidence Man’ are truly unique and out of keeping with the writing of his era. He didn’t shy away of asking the big questions, even when that meant loss of popularity. He pursued his poetry and his fiction beyond market and readers. Like his greatest character, Captain Ahab, he never gave up despite the hopelessness of his pursuit.
I thought I’d share one of the many passages I love in Moby Dick. This is from chapter 132 ‘The Symphony’ where Ahab is talking to his first mate, Starbuck (if you wondered about the name of the coffee chain…) about his life to that point. It’s a rare moment of self-disclosure that shows that indeed Ahab has his ‘humanities’.
“Oh, Starbuck! it is a mild, mild wind, and a mild looking sky. On such a day- very much such a sweetness as this- I struck my first whale- a boy-harpooneer of eighteen! Forty- forty- forty years ago!- ago! Forty years of continual whaling! forty years of privation, and peril, and storm-time! forty years on the pitiless sea! for forty years has Ahab forsaken the peaceful land, for forty years to make war on the horrors of the deep! Aye and yes, Starbuck, out of those forty years I have not spent three ashore. When I think of this life I have led; the desolation of solitude it has been; the masoned, walled-town of a Captain’s exclusiveness, which admits but small entrance to any sympathy from the green country without- oh, weariness! heaviness! Guinea-coast slavery of solitary command!- when I think of all this; only half-suspected, not so keenly known to me before- and how for forty years I have fed upon dry salted fare- fit emblem of the dry nourishment of my soul!- when the poorest landsman has had fresh fruit to his daily hand, and broken the world’s fresh bread to my mouldy crusts- away, whole oceans away, from that young girl-wife I wedded past fifty, and sailed for Cape Horn the next day, leaving but one dent in my marriage pillow- wife? wife?- rather a widow with her husband alive? Aye, I widowed that poor girl when I married her, Starbuck; and then, the madness, the frenzy, the boiling blood and the smoking brow, with which, for a thousand lowerings old Ahab has furiously, foamingly chased his prey- more a demon than a man!- aye, aye! what a forty years’ fool- fool- old fool, has old Ahab been! Why this strife of the chase? why weary, and palsy the arm at the oar, and the iron, and the lance? how the richer or better is Ahab now? Behold. Oh, Starbuck! is it not hard, that with this weary load I bear, one poor leg should have been snatched from under me? Here, brush this old hair aside; it blinds me, that I seem to weep. Locks so grey did never grow but from out some ashes! But do I look very old, so very, very old, Starbuck? I feel deadly faint, bowed, and humped, as though I were Adam, staggering beneath the piled centuries since Paradise. God! God! God!- crack my heart!- stave my brain!- mockery! mockery! bitter, biting mockery of grey hairs, have I lived enough joy to wear ye; and seem and feel thus intolerably old? Close! stand close to me, Starbuck; let me look into a human eye; it is better than to gaze into sea or sky; better than to gaze upon God. By the green land; by the bright hearthstone! this is the magic glass, man; I see my wife and my child in thine eye. No, no; stay on board, on board!- lower not when I do; when branded Ahab gives chase to Moby Dick. That hazard shall not be thine. No, no! not with the far away home I see in that eye!”

I hope you’ve enjoyed it and if you want to read more, here is the link to one of the free digital versions of the novel. There are more:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Moby-Dick-White-Whale-ebook/dp/B004TRXX7C/

Check ‘Bartleby the Scrivener’ on line. You won’t regret it:

http://www.bartleby.com/129/

And a link to Melville organisation, for all things Melville:

http://melville.org/

Thanks for reading and don’t forget to CLICK! (They’re all free!) And SHARE

220px-Herman_Melville_Headstone_1024[1]

Of course, as I said then, thanks for reading, like, share, comment, and I’m interested in hearing suggestions as to classics (either authors or books) you’d be interested in seeing here. I try and go for the ones where there is a fair amount of material and links to free work but that’s not an exclusion criteria and I’m planning on some that might not quite fit there…Keep reading and clicking!

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Hi all:

As you know on Fridays I like to bring you guest authors. Recently I decided that I was not going to limit myself to bringing as guests only people I knew, or even…people who are still alive…One of the advantages of becoming a writer is that our books (one hopes!) will survive us. You’ll remember I brought you Herman Melville as guest. Today I want to bring you a woman, Louisa May Alcott. She’s also an American writer from a similar era to Melville, with the added difficulty of being a woman in what was a man’s world.

English: Headshot of Louisa May Alcott (Novemb...

English: Headshot of Louisa May Alcott (November 29, 1832 – March 6, 1888), American novelist, at age 20 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Louisa May was born the 29th November 1832, in Germantown, Pennsylvania. She was the daughter of Amos Bronson Alcott (transcendentalist and educator) and Abigail (“Abba”) May. The family were in the centre of the transcendentalist movement and went to live in Concord where they were good friends with Emerson and Thoreau, and Nathaniel Hawthorne (good friend of Melville) was also a friend of the family.

Her family experimented with communal living (Fruitlands) but this failed and they returned to Concord.

Louisa May, like Jo in ‘Little Women‘ her best known book, wrote from an early age, had 3 sisters, (one who died of complications of scarlet fever), served as a nurse in Washington DC during the Civil War (she contracted typhoid fever and suffered complications ever since), and became a best-selling author, after writing a story for ‘girls’ at the suggestion of her publisher, Thomas Niles. ‘Little Women’ was an instant success and public and publisher asked for more.

She was also an abolitionist and feminist (she was the first woman registered to vote in Concord) , and worked hard to help support the family. She never married but when her sister May died she brought up her niece, Lulu.

She died two days after her father and is buried in Concord (Sleepy Hollow Cemetery, fabulous, don’t you think?)

English: Grave of American writer Louisa May A...

English: Grave of American writer Louisa May Alcott, Sleepy Hollow Cemetery, Concord, Mass. Taken on her birthday. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Here some links to more detailed information about Louisa May. You can also visit Orchard House, the family home Emerson bought for them.

http://www.empirezine.com/spotlight/alcott/alcott.htm

http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/13467/Louisa-May-Alcott

http://xroads.virginia.edu/~hyper/alcott/aboutla.html

One of her quotes:

Women have been called queens for a long time, but the kingdom given them isn’t worth ruling.

Louisa May Alcott

I love ‘Little Women’ and the character of Jo has been one of my inspirations when thinking about writing. I’ve read the rest of the books in the series and I also loved An Old-fashioned Girl when I was younger although I haven’t read it for years. I very much suspect I’d still love it.

And one of the advantages of having as guest an author long gone (and much loved) is that some of her books (many) are available free. I leave you links to some of them, but as I say, there are many more. Some of her books didn’t see publication at the time as they were considered too ‘daring’ but I would have a look if I were you. And do enjoy!

Orchard House - Concord, Massachusetts. Former...

Orchard House – Concord, Massachusetts. Former home of Bronson Alcott and family, including his daughter Louisa May Alcott. Her novel “Little Women” was written in the house in 1868, and loosely based on both the house itself and her family. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Links to books:

 

Little Women:

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B005ISZRES/

Little Men:

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B004UJH4C4/

An Old-Fashioned Girl:

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0083Z5RKM/

Under the Lilacs:

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0082QQ6S4/

 

Eight Cousins Or, the Aunt-Hill

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B006Z07SU4/

Hospital Sketches:

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0082QMXZO/

Thank you for reading, don’t forget to CLICK!, it’s free, and remember, many other classic writers and free books are available. Don’t miss it. And if you like the post, please share!

I usually have a guest post on Fridays. Today isn’t going to be an exception. Only instead of bringing you one of the new writers I’ve met, I thought I’d bring you a dead author. He’s surely dead, but I didn’t think that should prevent me from having him as a guest. After all zombies and vampires are all the rage these days and they’re dead too so…
I’ve been corresponding with a friend and fellow author, Mary Meddlemore and talking about reading and classics. And as I love Melville, I thought, why not? There’s also the advantage that many of his works can be downloaded for free, so it’s a win-win situation.
I have a BA in American Literature and I must say that although I knew of Melville I became more familiar with him when I was studying for my degree. I read Moby Dick several times. I must admit it’s a bit of a peculiar read (and fairly long), but I fell truly in love with it. It is ambitious, wandering, deep, funny, moving, dramatic, elegiac, philosophical, adventurous, scholarly, and bigger than life. Good candidate to the ever sought after title of The Great American Novel. Its opening lines: ‘Call me Ishmael.’ are well known and as good first lines as I’ve ever read. Simple but…
I post you links to detailed biographies of Melville.

Link to Virginia Education biography on Herman Melville. Great page.

http://xroads.virginia.edu/~HYPER/bb/hm_bio.html

Another fabulous page on Herman Melville and his later recognition

http://www.poemhunter.com/poems/nature/

melv[1]

A brief summary: He was born in New York in August 1, 1819 and died in September 28, 1891, forgotten by most, to the point where his obituary listed him as ‘Henry’ Melville. He travelled the South Seas, he became known for his adventure/exotic novels (Typee, Omoo) but later deviated onto more serious writing and never quite recovered the popularity of his youth. Moby Dick (or The Whale as it was initially published) is his best known work and masterpiece, although he carried on writing, with less and less success, to the point that he stopped publishing, worked as a customs inspector in New York, and some of his works, like Billy Budd were published posthumously.
Why do I like him so much? I feel he was ahead of his time. He reminds me of the modernists (if somebody can remind you of people who came after him) and works like ‘Bartleby the Scrivener’ (that I can’t recommend enough) and ‘The Confidence Man’ are truly unique and out of keeping with the writing of his era. He didn’t shy away of asking the big questions, even when that meant loss of popularity. He pursued his poetry and his fiction beyond market and readers. Like his greatest character, Captain Ahab, he never gave up despite the hopelessness of his pursuit.
I thought I’d share one of the many passages I love in Moby Dick. This is from chapter 132 ‘The Symphony’ where Ahab is talking to his first mate, Starbuck (if you wondered about the name of the coffee chain…) about his life to that point. It’s a rare moment of self-disclosure that shows that indeed Ahab has his ‘humanities’.
“Oh, Starbuck! it is a mild, mild wind, and a mild looking sky. On such a day- very much such a sweetness as this- I struck my first whale- a boy-harpooneer of eighteen! Forty- forty- forty years ago!- ago! Forty years of continual whaling! forty years of privation, and peril, and storm-time! forty years on the pitiless sea! for forty years has Ahab forsaken the peaceful land, for forty years to make war on the horrors of the deep! Aye and yes, Starbuck, out of those forty years I have not spent three ashore. When I think of this life I have led; the desolation of solitude it has been; the masoned, walled-town of a Captain’s exclusiveness, which admits but small entrance to any sympathy from the green country without- oh, weariness! heaviness! Guinea-coast slavery of solitary command!- when I think of all this; only half-suspected, not so keenly known to me before- and how for forty years I have fed upon dry salted fare- fit emblem of the dry nourishment of my soul!- when the poorest landsman has had fresh fruit to his daily hand, and broken the world’s fresh bread to my mouldy crusts- away, whole oceans away, from that young girl-wife I wedded past fifty, and sailed for Cape Horn the next day, leaving but one dent in my marriage pillow- wife? wife?- rather a widow with her husband alive? Aye, I widowed that poor girl when I married her, Starbuck; and then, the madness, the frenzy, the boiling blood and the smoking brow, with which, for a thousand lowerings old Ahab has furiously, foamingly chased his prey- more a demon than a man!- aye, aye! what a forty years’ fool- fool- old fool, has old Ahab been! Why this strife of the chase? why weary, and palsy the arm at the oar, and the iron, and the lance? how the richer or better is Ahab now? Behold. Oh, Starbuck! is it not hard, that with this weary load I bear, one poor leg should have been snatched from under me? Here, brush this old hair aside; it blinds me, that I seem to weep. Locks so grey did never grow but from out some ashes! But do I look very old, so very, very old, Starbuck? I feel deadly faint, bowed, and humped, as though I were Adam, staggering beneath the piled centuries since Paradise. God! God! God!- crack my heart!- stave my brain!- mockery! mockery! bitter, biting mockery of grey hairs, have I lived enough joy to wear ye; and seem and feel thus intolerably old? Close! stand close to me, Starbuck; let me look into a human eye; it is better than to gaze into sea or sky; better than to gaze upon God. By the green land; by the bright hearthstone! this is the magic glass, man; I see my wife and my child in thine eye. No, no; stay on board, on board!- lower not when I do; when branded Ahab gives chase to Moby Dick. That hazard shall not be thine. No, no! not with the far away home I see in that eye!”

I hope you’ve enjoyed it and if you want to read more, here is the link to one of the free digital versions of the novel. There are more:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Moby-Dick-White-Whale-ebook/dp/B004TRXX7C/

Check ‘Bartleby the Scrivener’ on line. You won’t regret it:

http://www.bartleby.com/129/

And a link to Melville organisation, for all things Melville:

http://melville.org/

Thanks for reading and don’t forget to CLICK! (They’re all free!) And SHARE

220px-Herman_Melville_Headstone_1024[1]

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