Melville, 1885]

The Life and Works of Herman Melville

The Life and Works of Herman Melville is a publication dedicated to disseminating information about Herman Melville on the Internet and the World Wide Web. Another valuable Internet resource is Ishmail, an electronic mailing list devoted to the discussion of Melville, his works, and other related subjects.

 Moby-Dick Marathon Fifth annual nonstop reading of the novel in New Bedford, MA 

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Biographical: Herman Melville (1819 - 1891)

"Some zealous lovers of the general literature of the age, as well as declared devotees to his own great genius, frequently petitioned him for the materials wherewith to frame his biography. They assured him, that life of all things was most insecure. He might feel many years in him yet; time might go lightly by him; but in any sudden and fatal sickness, how would his last hours be embittered by the thought, that he was about to depart forever, leaving the world utterly unprovided with the knowledge of what were the precise texture and hue of the first trowsers he wore. These representations did certainly touch him in a very tender spot, not previously unknown to the schoolmaster." --Pierre, Book XVII

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The Works

"Who shall tell all the thoughts and feelings of Pierre in that desolate and shivering room, when at last the idea obtruded, that the wiser and the profounder he should grow, the more and the more he lessened the chances for bread; that could he now hurl his deep book out of the window, and fall to on some shallow nothing of a novel, composable in a month at the longest, then could he reasonably hope for both appreciation and cash. But the devouring profundities, now opened up in him, consume all his vigor; would he, he could not now be entertainingly and profitably shallow in some pellucid and merry romance." --Pierre, Book XXII

Herman Melville Online

Publishing History, Excerpts, Contemporary Reviews


Other Melvilleana

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The Gam: Other Melville-Related Sites on the Web

"If two strangers crossing the Pine Barrens in New York State, or the equally desolate Salisbury Plain in England; if casually encountering each other in such inhospitable wilds, these twain, for the life of them, cannot well avoid a mutual salutation; and stopping for a moment to interchange the news; and, perhaps, sitting down for a while and resting in concert: then, how much more natural that upon the illimitable Pine Barrens and Salisbury Plains of the sea, two whaling vessels descrying each other at the ends of the earth -- off lone Fanning's Island, or the far away King's Mills; how much more natural, I say, that under such circumstances these ships should not only interchange hails, but come into still closer, more friendly and sociable contact.... For not only would they meet with all the sympathies of sailors, but likewise with all the peculiar congenialities arising from a common pursuit and mutually shared privations and perils." --Moby-Dick, Chapter 53 (The Gam)

Melville's Geography


Melville in the Arts

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Postscript: Of Related Interest

"...Resolve as one may to keep to the main road, some bypaths have an enticement not readily to be withstood." --Billy Budd, Chapter 4


The Age of Sail

Other Nineteenth-Century American Giants

Other Great Literary Sites

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"For though the naked soul of man doth assuredly contain one latent element of intellectual productiveness; yet never was there a child born solely from one parent; the visible world of experience being that procreative thing which impregnates the muses; self-reciprocally efficient hermaphrodites being but a fable." --Pierre, Book XVIII

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"For small erections may be finished by their first architects; grand ones, true ones, ever leave the copestone to posterity." --Moby-Dick, Chapter 32 (Cetology)

Can you provide additional information on Melville, his works, or anything else that belongs here? Let us know! Your contributions, comments, queries, and suggestions are welcomed by jmadden@melville.org.

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Last revised July 25, 2000