Herman Melville
Melville, Herman (1819-91), American novelist, a major literary figure whose
exploration of psychological and metaphysical themes foreshadowed 20th-century
literary concerns but whose works remained in obscurity until the 1920s, when
his genius was finally recognized. Melville was born August 1, 1819, in New York

City, into a family that had declined in the world. The Gansevoorts were solid,
stable, eminent, prosperous people; the (Herman\'s Father\'s side) Melvilles were
somewhat less successful materially, possessing an unpredictable. erratic,
mercurial strain. (Edinger 6). This difference between the Melville\'s and

Gansevoorts was the beginning of the trouble for the Melville family. Herman\'s
mother tried to work her way up the social ladder by moving into bigger and
better homes. While borrowing money from the bank, her husband was spending more
than he was earning. It is my conclusion that Maria Melville never committed
herself emotionally to her husband, but remained primarily attached to the well
off Gansevoort family. (Humford 23) Allan Melville was also attached financially
to the Gansevoorts for support. There is a lot of evidence concerning Melville\'s
relation to his mother Maria Melville. Apparently the older son Gansevoort who
carried the mother\'s maiden name was distinctly her favorite. (Edinger 7) This
was a sense of alienation the Herman Melville felt from his mother. This was one
of the first symbolists to the Biblical Ishamel. In 1837 he shipped to Liverpool
as a cabin boy. Upon returning to the U.S. he taught school and then sailed for
the South Seas in 1841 on the whaler Acushnet. After an 18 month voyage he
deserted the ship in the Marquesas Islands and with a companion lived for a
month among the natives, who were cannibals. He escaped aboard an Australian
trader, leaving it at Papeete, Tahiti, where he was imprisoned temporarily. He
worked as a field laborer and then shipped to Honolulu, Hawaii, where in 1843 he
enlisted as a seaman on the U.S. Navy frigate United States. After his discharge
in 1844 he began to create novels out of his experiences and to take part in the
literary life of Boston and New York City. Melville\'s first five novels all
achieved quick popularity. Typee: A Peep at Polynesian Life (1846), Omoo, a

Narrative of Adventures in the South Seas (1847), and Mardi (1849) were romances
of the South Sea islands. Redburn, His First Voyage (1849) was based on his own
first trip to sea, and White-Jacket, or the World in a Man-of-War (1850)
fictionalized his experiences in the navy. In 1850 Melville moved to a farm near

Pittsfield, Massachusetts, where he became an intimate friend of Nathaniel

Hawthorne, to whom he dedicated his masterpiece Moby-Dick; or The White Whale
(1851). The central theme of the novel is the conflict between Captain Ahab,
master of the whaler Pequod, and Moby-Dick, a great white whale that once tore
off one of Ahab\'s legs at the knee. Ahab is dedicated to revenge; he drives
himself and his crew, which includes Ishmael, narrator of the story, over the
seas in a desperate search for his enemy. The body of the book is written in a
wholly original, powerful narrative style, which, in certain sections of the
work, Melville varied with great success. The most impressive of these sections
are the rhetorically magnificent sermon delivered before sailing and the
soliloquies of the mates; lengthy flats, passages conveying nonnarrative
material, usually of a technical nature, such as the chapter about whales; and
the more purely ornamental passages, such as the tale of the Tally-Ho, which can
stand by themselves as short stories of merit. The work is invested with

Ishmael\'s sense of profound wonder at his story, but nonetheless conveys full
awareness that Ahab\'s quest can have but one end. And so it proves to be: Moby-Dick
destroys the Pequod and all its crew save Ishmael. There is a certain streak of
the supernatural being projected in the writings of Melville, as is amply
obvious in Moby Dick. The story revolves around the idea of an awesome sea
mammal, which drives the passions of revenge in one man and forces him to pursue
a course of action which leads ultimately to his death as well as the deaths of
his companions. There is a great deal of imagination involved in these stories
and the creativity is highly apparent. There is an expression of belief in the
supernatural, as the author strives to create the image of a humongous beast in
the mind of the reader. There are no indications that Melville was in any way
averse to fame or to the pursuit of excellence in his work. Every author, when
writing a