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Herman Melville (Classic American Writers)…

Herman Melville (Classic American Writers)

by Rebecca Stefoff

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I picked up this little biography, HERMAN MELVILLE, at a library sale recently. It's written for a YA audience, but I found it extremely instructive myself. Writing in an easy and accessible style, Rebecca Stefoff provides insight and background into Melville's early life and how his family was plagued by poverty and hard times, causing him to try different jobs in teaching and commerce, finally going to sea on merchant ships, whalers and even a Navy ship. These experiences gave him grist for most of his early works - TYPEE, OMOO, MARDI, REDBURN and WHITE-JACKET - and later for his masterpieces, MOBY DICK and BILLY BUDD.

Melville's MOBY DICK was not a success during his lifetime. In fact he was best known for his two early books (TYPEE and OMOO), both South Seas adventure stories, or 'travel books.' I was also interested to learn that Melville actually served in the US Navy, a crewman aboard the USN vessel, United States. He signed on in Honolulu for a short cruise and spent 14 months sailing from Hawaii, around South America to Boston, an experience he used to write his last book, BILLY BUDD, which was not published until 1924, more than thirty after his death in 1891. Melville was 72, and nearly forgotten as a writer when he died. But the 1920s saw a renewed interest in his work, and, well, you know the rest.

Melville is seen as a giant of American letters now. His place in the canon of American Literature has been secure for nearly a hundred years and will no doubt endure. Rebecca Stefoff has written an eminently readable and very enjoyable introduction to Melville for the young reader. Very highly recommended.

- Tim Bazzett, author of the memoir, BOOKLOVER ( )
  TimBazzett | Sep 2, 2017 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0671867717, Hardcover)

An illustrated biography of the life and career of the author of Moby Dick chronicles Melville's early poverty, his life as a sailor, and the development of his writing, and offers an analysis of his major work.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:12:14 -0400)

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