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White Jacket (The World on a Man-of-War) [NOOK Book]

Overview

Herman Melville wrote White-Jacket; or, The World in a Man-of-War during two months of intense work in the summer of 1849. He drew upon his memories of naval life, having spent fourteen months as an ordinary seaman aboard a frigate as it sailed the Pacific and made the homeward voyage around Cape Horn.

Already that same summer Melville had written Redburn, and he regarded the books as "two jobs, which I have done for money--being forced to it,...
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White Jacket (The World on a Man-of-War)

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Overview

Herman Melville wrote White-Jacket; or, The World in a Man-of-War during two months of intense work in the summer of 1849. He drew upon his memories of naval life, having spent fourteen months as an ordinary seaman aboard a frigate as it sailed the Pacific and made the homeward voyage around Cape Horn.

Already that same summer Melville had written Redburn, and he regarded the books as "two jobs, which I have done for money--being forced to it, as other men are to sawing wood." The reviewers were not as hard on White-Jacket as Melville himself was. The English liked its praise of British seamen. The Americans were more interested in Melville's attack on naval abuses, particularly flogging, and his advocacy of humanitarian causes. Soon Melville was acclaimed the best sea writer of the day.

Part autobiography, part epic fiction, White-Jacket remains a brilliantly imaginative social novel by one of the great writers of the sea. This text of the novel is an Approved Text of the Center for Editions of American Authors (Modern Language Association of America).
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Product Details

  • BN ID: 2940150592032
  • Publisher: Randall Sanders Publishing Co.
  • Publication date: 8/23/2014
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Sales rank: 1,129,743
  • File size: 353 KB

Meet the Author

Herman Melville
(August 1, 1819 – September 28, 1891)

Was an American novelist, poet, and writer of short stories. His contributions to the Western canon are the whaling novel Moby-Dick (1851); the short work Bartleby, the Scrivener (1853) about a clerk in a Wall Street office; the slave ship narrative Benito Cereno (1855); and Billy Budd, Sailor (1924). When asked which of the great American writers he most admired, Vladimir Nabokov replied: "When I was young I liked Poe, and I still love Melville, whom I did not read as a boy."

Around his twentieth year he was a schoolteacher for a short time, then became a seaman when his father met business reversals. On his first voyage he jumped ship in the Marquesas Islands, where he lived for a time. His first book, an account of that time, Typee, became a bestseller and Melville became known as the "man who lived among the cannibals". After Omoo, the sequel to his first book, Melville began to work philosophical issues in his third book, the elaborate Mardi (1849). The public indifference to Moby-Dick (1851), and Pierre (1852), put an end to his career as a popular author. From 1853 to 1856 he wrote short fiction for magazines, collected as The Piazza Tales (1856). In 1857, Melville published The Confidence-Man, the last work of fiction published during his lifetime. During his later decades, Melville worked at the New York Customs House and privately published some volumes of poetry in editions of only 25 copies. When he died in 1891, Melville was almost completely forgotten. It was not until the "Melville Revival" at the occasion of the centennial of his birth that his work won recognition. In 1924, the story Billy Budd, Sailor was published, which Melville worked on during his final years, and left in manuscript at his death.

The single most Melvillean characteristic of his prose is its allusiveness. Stanley T. Williams said "In Melville's manipulation of his reading was a transforming power comparable to Shakespeare's."
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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 18, 2012

    Hello is thee a party here?

    Hello enyone

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 22, 2007

    Harsh Life Aboard a US Navy Ship in the Last Days of Sail

    The title, 'White Jacket', serves as a double entendre by the author, Herman Melville. He actually sews up a hand-stitched jacket made from white sail cloth and other material, but it is ill-fitting, continually wet, ineffective against the cold, and actually the source of trouble between himself and the crew. So, the white jacket is a suit of his own making that very well brings about his own downfall. In the end, he discards it when he sees himself about to drown. And so, Melville uses this theme to serve as a metaphor for white superiority and the threatening danger of civil war over slavery. Indeed, Melville experiences effective slavery during his voyage aboard the USS United States (USS Neversink in the book) during its run from the Pacific back to the Atlantic. And like so many black slaves, he and his crewmates suffer the ever-present threat of public lashings for even minor infractions. So, Melville also uses his book as an indictment against a hypocritical system, whereby officers are never wrong and never experience corporal punishment but the enlisted crew remain in perpetual danger of arousing the slightest displeasure of any officer with the ultimate result of a humiliating public lashing. However, no military organization could function effectively if it were a democratic institution who would ever risk their life in such a case? (Even the early Communists quickly abandoned that principle.) But the vast majority of the book focuses on the minute details of life aboard a frigate during the age of sail. Several hundred (500?) souls are packed into the space of a single wooden vessel for months on end. How the ship is organized and the rituals of life aboard ship are the mainstay of the book. Melville describes in factual detail the actual work (trimming sails, cleaning decks, etc.), the daily routines (meals on deck, standing watches, playing cards in secret, sleeping in the crew's quarters), the professions (sailor, waistman, quartermaster, boatswain, carpenter, surgeon, captain, commodore, purser, midshipmen, chaplain, pharmacist, cook, cockswain, gunner, and yeoman), the less usual events (floggings, making a port of call, receiving official dignitaries aboard ship, rounding Cape Horn, the order of Neptune initiation rites, rumors of war), and all the underlying social structure and tensions ever-present. I enjoyed the book and would recommend it to anyone interested in life aboard naval ships in the days of sail. With the rise of modern wireless communication, captains no longer enjoy such an absolute despotism as in times previous, but he still remains the unchallenged master aboard US navy vessels. While much of life aboard ship has changed, probably half of the book would still be quite familiar to modern-day sailors.

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