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Or, the Whale

October 18, 2013 | by

COMIC classics illustrated moby dicklarge

On this day in 1851, Moby-Dick was published. In a letter to Nathaniel Hawthorne shortly afterward, Melville wrote,

… for not one man in five cycles, who is wise, will expect appreciative recognition from his fellows, or any one of them. Appreciation! Recognition! Is Jove appreciated? Why, ever since Adam, who has got to the meaning of his great allegory—the world? Then we pigmies must be content to have our paper allegories but ill comprehended. I say your appreciation is my glorious gratuity.

Needless to say, recognition did indeed come, albeit posthumously.

 

2 COMMENTS

2 Comments

  1. Drew | October 18, 2013 at 7:16 pm

    ‘I have written a blasphemous book’, said Melville when his novel was first published in 1851, ‘and I feel as spotless as the lamb’.

  2. Drew | October 19, 2013 at 2:24 pm

    Addendum:

    “Moby Dick can be read then not only as an account of a whale hunt, but also as a love story, perhaps the greatest love story in our fiction, cast in the peculiar American form of innocent homosexuality. During 1851, the year in which he completed Moby Dick, Melville scored and underscored two passages, which he had come on in his current reading, and which must have seemed to him confirmations of his own deepest feelings. The first is from the MAID’S TRAGEDIE and runs:

    For aught I know, all husbands are like me;
    And every one I talk with of his wife,
    Is but a well dissembler of his woes
    As I am; would I knew it, for the rareness afflicts me now..

    The second is picked out of the tale of David and Jonathan in Samuel II ; ‘Thy love to me was wonderful, passing the love of women.’

    — Leslie Fiedler, Love and Death in the American Novel
    ( p. 370)

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