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“A Biographical Sketch of one of the greatest American novelists and writers of Short Stories: Herman Melville”

“A Biographical Sketch of one of the greatest American novelists and writers of Short Stories: Herman Melville”


My dear fellow thinkers, and lovers of literature, I bid you and ask you to join with me in another voyage of intellectual discovery where those who may wish to engage in critical thinking and do not engage in and accept media lies, falsehoods, political code words, and hype can join with me in the effort to gain truth and facts amid the barrage of corruption and virtual darkness we are confronted with and befuddled and made effective fools of. I welcome you in this quest and task of attaining and coming to know intellectual honesty and honest discernment. Join with me in the voyage of discovery to get at and find what is valid and authentic in this world of confusion and do come with me in tearing apart the curtain of lies and darkness that hides from us what is truth and facts.

Today I will write and speak on one of our great American writers and will speak of his life and literary works in these pages. I have spoken of with great pleasure some of my favorite English and American prose writers, novelists and poets whom I love and treasure. I have written of the life and works of such 

poets as T.S. Eliot, Shelley, Keats and Byron and such novelists as E.M. Forster, Kipling, Dickens, Trolllope, Thackeray, Jane Austen, Conrad, Sinclair Lewis, Steinbeck, and many others. None of these greats of world literature and world thinking are far from my thoughts and bedside and all are my daily companions and will never be far from me to the very end and conclusion of my life.

Herman Melville was born in 1819 and died in 1891 and was an American novelist, short-story writer and poet. He is best known for his novels Moby Dick and Typee and for his short novel, Billy Budd. Moby Dick, published in 1851, was not critically well received.

His last work of prose, The Confidence-Man: His Masquerade, was published in 1857. Then he moved to New York to take a position as a Customs Inspector and from that point focused his creative power on poetry.

Melville was of Dutch ancestry and both his grandfathers were heroes of the Revolutionary War. His family was well to do. Melville was sent to the New York Male High School and then to the Columbia Grammar and Preparatory School. The family moved to Albany where from 1830 to 1831 he attended the 
Albany Academy. Herman’s father returned from New York City and died in 1832. Herman then got a job in the New York State Bank as a clerk and thereafter began working at the family fur and cap business. While working there he began attending the Albany Classical School. In March of 1837 he was again withdrawn from the Albany Academy and then began teaching at a school in Lenox, Mass. He returned to his mother’s house in 1838. 

From 1839 to 1844 were his years at sea. His first book, Typee, published in 1846, was based on his jumping ship and on his stay in or near the Taipei Valley. Melville drew on similar experiences for his novel Omoo. Typee, published in London in 1846, was a bestseller, both in England and New York. From 1845 to 1850 he was a successful writer, producing the novels Mardi and Redburn. He joined the US Navy and drew on those experiences for his book White Jacket, published in 1850. His novel Pierre was not successful. He thereafter published Israel PotterThe Confidence Man, and Piazza Tales. From 1852 to 1857 were the years when his writing was not successful.

Melville’s writing style is loose and lengthy. He was influenced by the Bible, Shakespeare and Milton. Melville did not publish poetry until his late 30s and did not receive recognition for his poetry until the late 20th century.

Ladies Gentlemen: This concludes my essay on the life and works of the very great American writer Herman Melville. I have not read all of his works, but two of his short stories stick in mind and heart and I do not think they will ever leave me. They are the great and deeply affecting short novel Billy Budd and the short story “Benito Cereno.” Both have a sensitivity and depth I cannot forget. I urge you, my lovers of great literature, to obtain the works of this author without delay. Read and bring your children and go to this writer and experience his greatness. It is well worth the effort involved. Leave aside for a day or so the artificial props of television and computers; leave aside for a time the opiate images of our culture; and stretch your mind beyond what you cannot imagine.

I owe this essay presented here to the article in Wikipedia on this writer.