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Herman Melville was born Herman Melvill (the â€˜eâ€™ was added in the 1830s) on 1 August, 1819, in New York City to a wealthy importer.
The Melvilles moved to Albany after Hermanâ€™s father was bankrupted. His father died soon after and the young Herman worked variously as a farmer, bookkeeper, teacher and bank clerk. At the age of 20 he signed on as a deck hand of a trading ship, the St. Lawrence, sailing to Liverpool and back. Soon after his return he set sail for the South Pacific aboard the whaling ship Acusnet. In the Marquesas, Melville jumped ship and spent a month in the Taipi valley on the island of Nuku Hiva. Brought to Tahiti by an Australian whaler, Melville was taken ashore as a mutineer but escaped. He enlisted in the US Navy in Honolulu and sailed to Boston, where he was discharged in 1844.
Back in the US, he began to write, turning his experiences in the Pacific into several fictionalized travel books. Typee in 1846 was extremely successful.
In 1847 Melville married Elizabeth Shaw, the daughter of the Massachusetts Chief Justice. After a few years they and their family moved to Arrowhead, a farm in Pittsfield, where Melville started Moby Dick. During this time he met Nathaniel Hawthorne, who inspired him greatly.
Upon publication, Moby Dick received mixed reviews. His next novel, Pierre, fared worse. Seeking a steady income, Melville turned to magazine writing. In the late 1850s he embarked on a tour of the Holy Land, financed by his father-in-law. The trip inspired much of his future writing. Upon his return to the US Melville lectured extensively and began to write poetry almost exclusively. He failed to find a publisher for his poems and took a post as a deputy inspector of customs at New York port, a job he held for almost 20 years.
His relationship with his wife deteriorated so much in 1867 that they nearly separated. Later that year their son Malcolm died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
After his retirement Melville published two small volumes of poetry, dealing with the sea, art politics and sexuality. At his death on September 28, 1891, Melville left several uncompleted projects, including the novella Billy Budd, which remained unpublished until 1924.
Moby Dick covers subjects such as racism, hierarchical relationships, politics, good and evil. None of this is lost in the Compact Edition. What have been cut are lengthy descriptions of whaling history and whales and some philosophical observations and reflections. Still an allegorical epic though.
One of Giles Coren's favourite books. A swashbuckling adventure story of seemingly epic proportions. The plot follows a half-crazed sea captain who seeks bitter revenge on a white whale who previously deprived him of his legs. Extraordinary details of ships, whale anatomy, and the nature of man make this novel intense and deeply fascinating. The first line of Moby Dick, ‘Call me Ishmael,’ has been described as one of the most immortal openings to any book in literary history. A must read classic. Visit our '50 Classics Everyone Should Read' collection to discover more classic titles.
Presented as narratives of his own South Sea experiences, Melville's first two books had roused incredulity in many readers. Their disbelief, he declared, had been the main inducement in altering his plan for his third book, Mardi: and a Voyage Thither (1849). Melville wanted to exploit the rich poetical material of Polynesia and also to escape feeling irked, cramped, & fettered by a narrative of facts. I began to feel . . . a longing to plume my pinions for a flight, he told his English publisher. Mardi began as a sequel to Typee (1846) and Omoo (1847), but changed radically while he was writing it and emerged as an altogether independent and original work. In its combination of adventure, allegorical romance, realistic portraits of characters and scenes from nature, philosophical speculation, and travelogue-satire, Mardi was Melville's first attempt to create a great work of fiction. This edition of is an Approved Text of the Center for Editions of American Authors (Modern Language Association of America).
Herman Melville's The Piazza Tales is the only collection of short fiction that he published in hislifetime, and it includes his two most famous short stories, Bartleby, the Scrivener and Benito Cerenoalong with the less well-known but deeply engaging sketches of the Galapagos Islands that make up TheEncantadas and three more short stories: The Piazza, The Bell-Tower, and The Lightning-Rod Man. This edition places these stories in the context of nineteenth-century debates over slavery, free willand determinism, science and technology, and the nature and value of literary artistry. The stories in ThePiazza Tales demonstrate the global range of Melville's cultural and aesthetic concerns, as Melville sethis stories in locales ranging from rural western Massachusetts and Wall Street in the United States to thePacific coast of South America and southern Europe. This edition is especially concerned with Melville's engagement with both political questions related toslavery and imperialism and aesthetic questions germane to the short story tradition as developed by hisnear contemporaries Nathaniel Hawthorne and Edgar Allan Poe.
Penguin Readers is an ELT graded reader series for learners of English as a foreign language. With carefully adapted text, new illustrations and language learning exercises, the print edition also includes instructions to access supporting material online. Titles include popular classics, exciting contemporary fiction, and thought-provoking non-fiction, introducing language learners to bestselling authors and compelling content. The eight levels of Penguin Readers follow the Common European Framework of Reference for language learning (CEFR). Exercises at the back of each Reader help language learners to practise grammar, vocabulary, and key exam skills. Before, during and after-reading questions test readers' story comprehension and develop vocabulary. Visit the Penguin Readers website Exclusively with the print edition, readers can unlock online resources including a digital book, audio edition, lesson plans and answer keys. When the young sailor Ishmael decides to sail on the Pequod with the mysterious Captain Ahab, he has no idea about Ahab's plans to get revenge on the great white whale Moby Dick. Ahab wants to find and kill the whale at any cost - even if it means losing his ship and his crew.