Within a year after Melville's death, Moby-Dick, along with Typee, Omoo, and Mardi, was reprinted by Harper & Brothers, giving it a chance to be rediscovered. However, only New York's literary underground seemed to take much interest, just enough to keep Melville's name circulating for the next 25 years in the capital of American publishing. During this time, a few critics were willing to devote time, space, and a modicum of praise to Melville and his works, or at least those that could still be fairly easily obtained or remembered. Other works, especially the poetry, went largely forgotten.

The book took over 50 years to become a cultural force.


I am a big Melville fan. Moby Dick was my first read aside from Bartleby, the Scrivener, but I've also read Typee, Omoo, and White Jacket. I read MD when I was in China for three months, and had a lot of down time. That was a pretty ideal setting to do so. The book is a treatise on passion and action, and having few people to talk to, I spent a good time thinking on it. Melville wrote of the laboring life that he lived, and I have a fondness for authors that could turn a screwdriver, like he and Hemingway.

The Confidence Man was one of the few books that I couldn't finish. I think that was more for Melville than it was for his audience. I've often wondered about The Confidence Man and Ulysses. It feels like Joyce was influenced by it, and not only because they both happen on one day.

posted by francopoli: 826 days ago