Born in New York City in 1819, Herman Melville died in 1891, at which point his work had been largely forgotten. He has since been recognized as one of America's greatest writers. His metaphysical whaling novel, Moby Dick, is one of literature's most enduring works of art. His shorter works, including Billy Budd, Bartleby, the Scrivener and Benito Cereno, are considered classics of the form.
The Lightning-Rod Manby Herman Melville
Herman Melville (August 1, 1819 - September 28, 1891) was an American writer best known for the novel Moby-Dick. His first three books gained much contemporary attention (the first, Typee, became a bestseller), but after a fast-blooming literary success in the late 1840s, his popularity declined precipitously in the
The Fiddler is a short story by Herman Melville.
Herman Melville (August 1, 1819 - September 28, 1891) was an American writer best known for the novel Moby-Dick. His first three books gained much contemporary attention (the first, Typee, became a bestseller), but after a fast-blooming literary success in the late 1840s, his popularity declined precipitously in the mid-1850s and never recovered during his lifetime.
When he died in 1891, he was almost completely forgotten. It was not until the "Melville Revival" in the early 20th century that his work won recognition, especially Moby-Dick, which was hailed as one of the literary masterpieces of both American and world literature. In 1919, the unfinished manuscript for his novella Billy Budd was discovered by his first biographer, Raymond M. Weaver, who published a version in 1924 which was acclaimed by notable British critics as another Melville masterpiece. He was the first writer to have his works collected and published by the Library of America.
A confluence of publishing events in the 1920s, now commonly called "the Melville Revival", brought about a reassessment of his work. The two books generally considered most important to the Revival were Raymond Weaver's 1921 biography Herman Melville: Man, Mariner and Mystic and his 1924 edition of Melville's last manuscript, Billy Budd, which he discovered unfinished among papers given to him by Melville's granddaughter. The other works that helped fan the Revival flames were Carl Van Doren's The American Novel (1921), D. H. Lawrence's Studies in Classic American Literature (1923), Carl Van Vechten's essay in The Double Dealer (1922), and Lewis Mumford's biography, Herman Melville: A Study of His Life and Vision (1929).
In 1945, the Melville Society was formed as a nonprofit organization dedicated to celebrating Melville's literary legacy. Jay Leyda, better known for his work in film, spent more than a decade gathering documents and records for the day by day Melville Log (1951). In the same year Newton Arvin published the critical biography, Herman Melville, which won the nonfiction National Book Award.
That year, the novella Billy Budd was adapted as an award-winning play on Broadway, and premiered as an opera by Benjamin Britten, with a libretto on which the author E.M. Forster collaborated. In 1962 Peter Ustinov wrote, directed and produced a film based on the stage version, starring the young Terence Stamp and for which he took the role of Captain Vere. All these works brought more attention to Melville.
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Meet the Author
- Date of Birth:
- August 1, 1819
- Date of Death:
- September 28, 1891
- Place of Birth:
- New York, New York
- Place of Death:
- New York, New York
- Attended the Albany Academy in Albany, New York, until age 15
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