Herman Melville discussion

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Oh, Melville! Proof that you could be as harsh a critic as others were to you!

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message 1: by Azaghedi (new)

Azaghedi | 19 comments Mod
This is one of the most scathing, if not hilariously funny, book reviews I've ever read. The following are some highlights of Melville's riffs on Joseph C. Hart's The Romance of Yachting:

"You have been horribly imposed upon, My Dear Sir. The book is no book, but a compact bundle of wrapping paper. And as for Mr Hart, pen & ink, should instantly be taken away from that unfortunate man, upon the same principle that pistols are withdrawn from the wight bent on suicide."

"-- Prayers should be offered up for him among the congregations. and Thanksgiving Day postponed until long after his 'book' is published. What great national sin have we committed to deserve this infliction?

"-- And as for glossing over his book with a few commonplaces, -- that I can not do. -- The book deserves to be burnt in a fire of asafetida, & by the hand that wrote it.

"Seriously again, & on my conscience, the book is an abortion, the mere trunk of a book, minus head arm or leg. -- Take it back, I beseech, & get some one to cart it back to the author."

What bitter irony that he penned this piece of literary vitriol in 1848, just a few years before he would be slammed for Moby-Dick and Pierre.


message 2: by Donald (new)

Donald (donf) | 26 comments Steve - Where can we find the complete review?


message 3: by Azaghedi (new)

Azaghedi | 19 comments Mod
The above snippets (and a few others) were found at Melville.org. I'm not sure if there were full reviews anywhere, but that might be a good first place to check.


message 4: by Donald (new)

Donald (donf) | 26 comments OK Thanks Steve, I'll do a little searching in the library, there must be a collection of his review out there.


message 5: by Hershel (new)

Hershel Parker | 11 comments Donald wrote: "OK Thanks Steve, I'll do a little searching in the library, there must be a collection of his review out there."
Try the 1960 LETTERS or try the NN CORRESPONDENCE since it is a letter.


message 6: by Donald (new)

Donald (donf) | 26 comments Thanks Hershel, I'll check that out.


message 7: by Azaghedi (new)

Azaghedi | 19 comments Mod
Honored to see you here, Mr. Parker. I recently purchased the first volume of your seminal Herman Melville: A Biography, and am avidly awaiting its arrival in the mail!


message 8: by Hershel (last edited Mar 18, 2013 10:04AM) (new)

Hershel Parker | 11 comments Steve, if you have whipped through HERMAN MELVILLE: A BIOGRAPHY: 1819-1851 maybe you will get hold of the 2013 HERMAN MELVILLE: AN INSIDE NARRATIVE. See the first 8 reviews on Amazon. I am holding my breath. The January NEW YORKER blog "Books to Watch Our For" was wonderful, and wholly unexpacted. The CHRONICLE OF HIGHER EDUCATION sandbagged me with a fantastic 2nd paragraph which invented reasons I was unhappy with particular reviewers, those who said I invented THE ISLE OF THE CROSS and POEMS. I'm still reeling from the CHRONICLE. The article provides a perfect example of how an early placement of a falsified paragraph will make you read everything else in its light. What's quoted from me starting in paragraph 3 is pretty much accurate, but if I have no genuine grievance against reviewers (as paragraph 2 says) I sound like a crank. Textbook New Criticism! You read all that follows in the light of what went before.


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