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If You Like Herman Melville
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Herman Melville
Herman Melville's legend is as mammoth and elusive as the whale that established it. The author's Moby-Dick; Or, The Whale stands as one of literature's greatest epics, a story of mythological proportions that was grounded in real life and a new way of storytelling. Melville's work, underappreciated in its time, remains as much subject to debate and interpretation as it was when he first caught the public eye with his South Seas adventure, Typee, in 1846.

* Read the biography

* Visit our Book Clubs to discuss Melville's classic Moby-Dick

Fact File

Herman Melville
Date of Birth:
August 1, 1819
Place of Birth:
New York, New York
Date of Death:
September 28, 1891
Place of Death:
New York, New York
Attended the Albany Academy in Albany, New York, until age 15

The Best Book to Read First

Selected Works

Book Cover Image. Title: 
								Moby-Dick (Barnes & Noble Classics Series), Author: 
								Herman Melville.

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Moby-Dick (Barnes & Noble Classics Series)
by Herman Melville
This classic tale of captain versus whale is without question Melville's masterpiece. From its famous opening line, "Call me Ishmael," the reader is plunged into an oceanic epic filled with haunting symbols and unforgettable themes.

*  Read an excerpt
Book Cover Image. Title: 
								Billy Budd, Sailor and Other Stories, Author: 
								Herman Melville, Designed by Frederick Busch.
*  Typee: A Peep at Polynesian Life (1846)
*  Omoo (1847)
*  Redburn: His First Voyage (1849)
*  Moby-Dick (1851)
*  Pierre; Or, The Ambiguities (1852)
*  The Piazza Tales (1856)
*  Billy Budd, Sailor and Other Stories (1924)

*  See the Herman Melville chronology

Inspired by Moby

Book Cover Image. Title: 
								In Search of Moby Dick: The Quest for the White Whale, Author: 
								Tim Severin.

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In Search of Moby Dick: The Quest for the White Whale
by Tim Severin
It's hard to imagine that Melville's minute, exhaustive details about whales and whaling might leave something to be desired, but they did for Tim Severin: The author looks into Melville's sources on whaling, then goes on a modern-day hunt with islanders from the South Pacific. Nathaniel Philbrick, on the other hand, explores the real-life incident that inspired Moby-Dick; and Ahab's Wife offers a fictional extrapolation and a female spin on the classic.

*  In the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex   by Nathaniel Philbrick
*  Ahab's Wife; Or, The Star-Gazer   by Sena Jeter Naslund, Christopher Wormell (Illustrator)

Melville's First Hit

More on Melville

Book Cover Image. Title: 
								Typee: A Peep at Polynesian Life, Author: 
								Herman Melville, Commentaries by John Bryant.

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Typee: A Peep at Polynesian Life
by Herman Melville, Commentaries by John Bryant
Melville's first book earned him a reputation, but a notorious one -- though the account of life among cannibals in the South Seas was a bestseller in 1846, it was considered offensive for its frank treatment of sex and religion. Melville also had a hard time convincing doubters that the adventures were indeed true.

*Read the introduction
Book Cover Image. Title: 
								Herman Melville: A Penguin Life, Author: 
								Elizabeth Hardwick.

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Herman Melville: A Penguin Life
by Elizabeth Hardwick
Novelist Hardwick contributes this lauded volume on Melville to the Penguin Lives series, combining critical intepretations of the author's work with facts about his life. If you are truly hungry for more about the man behind the whale, however, Hershel Parker's two-volume biography is required reading.

*Herman Melville: A Biography, 1819-1851, Vol. 1  by Hershel Parker
*Herman Melville: A Biography, 1851-1891, Vol. 2  by Hershel Parker