logo
Wrong email address or username
Wrong email address or username
Incorrect verification code
back to top
Search tags: Herman-Melville
Load new posts () and activity
Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
review 2017-07-13 10:14
This made me love Melville even more
The letters of Herman Melville - Herman Melville,Merrell R. Davis,William H. Gilman

For some reason Herman Melville intrigues me and I cannot seem to part with him. I was fascinated by the story of Moby-Dick since I was a kid, when I would look at the illustrations in my older brothers edition and I was thrilled when I saw the movie adaption in 1998. But ever since early this year, when I wrote a paper on the comparison of different translations of Moby-Dick and therefore was really diving into Melvilles writing, I cannot let go of him.

I wanted to know how Melville lived through the process of writing this incredibly leviathan of a book – and what better way to find out, than to read his correspondence. But I got way more out of his letters than that.

 

This was a journey through Melvilles life, beginning with the earliest (surviving) letter to his Grandmother at the age of 9 and ending with the last (again, surviving) letter in the year before he died. And in between those two you get to follow him through his whole life – you experience the beginning of his career, when he writes like a humble young man who is very happy, that his work gets published at all, then you reach a somewhat mean and cocky phase in his life, when he believed himself to be a world class author until you get to a point when he is settling down and becomes a content family man who likes good company and never refuses a drink or two. That nice, happy fellow is the Herman Melville we know and love today.

 

My personal favourites were his letters to Nathaniel Hawthorne – what a dream-team! Melville expresses such a deep understanding of Hawthorne and their friendship, I cannot explain it any differently than they being soul-mates. Those letters are much more intimate and tender than any of the letters I found, which he wrote to the members his family.

 

A few words to the „genre“ of letters. In general, I always feel a bit weird when I read someone else’s letters or diaries, because this is an extremely personal form of writing. Basically, these letters were never intended for anyone else to read than the addressee. There is a sort of intimacy in a letter, which I think we have lost completely in our writings nowadays.

But, me feeling weird about it aside, it was fantastic to experience a time, when there was no haste in communication. Melville knew, that it would take a letter to his publisher in London approximately one month to get there and because the same goes for the answer, you could probably expect an answer after two to three months.

 

By the way, this is a very nice edition, you immediately see, that the scholars put a lot of effort in it. And now, ending with Melvilles own words:

 

Much more might be said, but enough.

Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
text 2017-07-01 16:01
Dreamteam Melville + Hawthorne
The letters of Herman Melville - Herman Melville,Merrell R. Davis,William H. Gilman

I don’t think  I have ever read anything more beautiful and touching than Melvilles letter to Nathaniel Hawthorn in June 1851:

 

"If ever, my dear Hawthorne, in the eternal times that are to come, you and I shall sit down in Paradise, in some little shady corner by ourselves; and if we shall by any means be able to smuggle a basket of champagne there (I won’t believe in a Temperance Heaven), and if we shall then cross our celestial legs in the celestial grass that is forever tropical, and strike our glasses and our heads together, till both musically ring in concert, – then, O my dear fellow-mortal, how shall we pleasantly discourse of all the things manifold which now so distress us, – when all the earth shall be but a reminiscence, yea, its final dissolution an antiquity."

Like Reblog Comment
review 2017-05-07 00:00
Moby-Dick; or, The Whale
Moby-Dick; or, The Whale - Herman Melville,Andrew Delbanco,Tom Quirk Interesting read, but not my favorite story. Terribly long.
Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
review 2017-04-30 18:24
Run! It's too late after you embark
Moby-Dick - Andrew Delbanco, Tom Quirk,Herman Melville

It's not often lately that I find a read that threatens to leave me clueless as to what I'm reading. I'm not talking content here (I'll get to that later), but sheer language. Between the heavy intertextuallity, the word usage and sentences structure, I found myself having no idea what the last paragraph or three meant, and have to backtrack, more than I liked. I though I was over that shit. Conceit corrected.

 

Next, the characters feel like ghosts. Even the narrator sometimes loses substance, becoming something airlike and almost omniscient. They are Ahab's crew. If you want to get all metaphysical, traits of humanity that are driven by one over-consuming. It goes just as well as you could expect.


Last, the story. The thing itself could be spun in a third of the length without loosing anything from the plot. But, and here is where the ambitious bastard trips you, most of the meaning, theme and depth is stored in the fat. All those hazed-eyes inducing chapters? They actually have a point. Damned all those lit analysis classes, much of an overarching understanding of the novel hinges on the Jonah's sermon and the whiteness chapters.

So, is it worth it? Hell if I know. I powered through the thing, even liked it to some extent, and I'm still unconvinced. There is a certain brilliance in what it attempts. To me, the whole idea (and what it feels like to read it) can be encompassed in one passage in ch16: Ishmael goes to Peleg to ask to go whaling for a "desire to see the world" and Peleg tells him to look across the bow of the docked ship. There is nothing but water, says Ishamel, and Peleg answers that's the world he'll see a whaling. You can read a summary of the book as you can see the sea from the shore.The wisdom of going whaling is seriously challenged after all.

 

But it's not the same.

Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
text 2017-04-30 02:14
Reading progress update: I've read 625 out of 625 pages.
Moby-Dick - Andrew Delbanco, Tom Quirk,Herman Melville

Done!

 

I'll roll my Dewey's extras (crossing my fingers for something fluffy, easy, cheery or all of the above) and come back to talk about this.

More posts
Your Dashboard view:
Need help?