Herman

Melville

Melville, Herman (1819-91), an American Novelist, is widely regarded as one of

America\'s greatest and most influential novelists; known primarily as the author
of Moby Dick. He belonged to a group of eminent pre-Civil War writers-American

Romantics or members of the American Renaissance-who created a new and vigorous
national literature. He is one of the notable examples of an American author
whose work went largely unrecognized in his own time and died in obscurity.

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 (Hermans Fathers side) Melvilles were somewhat less
successful materially, possessing an unpredictable. erratic, mercurial strain. (Edinger

6). This difference between the Melvilles and Gansevoorts was the beginning of
the trouble for the Melville family. Hermans 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 Melvilles 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