external image melv.jpgHerman Melville (August 19 1819 - September 28 1891) was an American author and poet, best known for his many novels. He did not attain much fame or fortune as a writer during his lifetime, earning very little from his literary works. Struggling to make ends meet during his early life, he turned to the sea and spent several years during the early 1840s as a sailor aboard various ocean vessels. This experience provided the foundation for many of Melville’s literary works, giving him a reputation in his time as an adventure novelist. He was often conflicted between his own desires and experiences and those of readers and publishers, stating in an 1851 letter “What I feel most moved to write, that is banned, -- it will not pay. Yet, altogether, write the other way I cannot. So the product is a final hash, and all my books are botches.” His works included many with a nautical theme, including the well-known whaling novel, “Moby Dick.” Other well-known novels by Melville include:

  • Typee
  • Oomoo
  • White-Jacket
  • Billy Budd, Sailor
  • Redburn, His First Voyage

A modern connection to Melville could be astronauts, as well as unmanned space exploration missions. In Melville’s time, the exotic locales visited by sailors and the indigenous peoples who lived there were considered foreign and unknown by the people of Europe and North America, where Melville’s works were published. In our society today, space represents the next undiscovered frontier.

Sources

Primary

Madden, J. “Melville’s Reflections.” The Life and Works of Herman Melville. n.p., 25 July 2000. Web. 10 February 2011.

Secondary

Cohen, Hennig. “Herman Melville Biography.” Andreas Teuber. Brandeis University, n.d. Web. 10 February 2011.

Tertiary

“Herman Melville.” Wikipedia. Wikipedia, 4 February 2011. Web. 10 February 2011.