Commentary, Non-Fiction

Death Day – A Tribute to Herman Melville

Herman-Melville

Celebrating the life of Herman Melville

Born a New Yorker in 1819 on August 1st, Herman Melville lived to the age of 72, until passing away on September 28, 1981. He spent most of his younger years working diligently to alleviate the debt that riddled his family, eventually finding himself aboard a merchant ship as a cabin boy. His life continued to be filled with sailing adventures, voyages to the South Seas and encounters with the present-day French Polynesian islands inhabited with cannibalistic civilizations. His writings were inspired mostly from his journeys, but were driven by a critical philosophy of American culture and society.

Herman Melville

I recommend all adventurous youths who abandon vessels in romantic islands during the rainy season to provide themselves with umbrellas.

Melville wed Elizabeth Shaw in 1847, continuing on to have two sons and two daughters. He had a brief but pivotal friendship with American writer, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and continued to publish short stories and novels throughout his life. In his later years, he worked as a customs guard on the ship harbors, writing as a habit on nights, and weekends, exploring the world of poetry too, up until the final moments of his life.

Favorite quotes:

“It is not down in any map; true places never are.”

“Nature is nobody’s ally.”

“Thou wine art the friend of the friendless, though a foe to all.”

Incomplete list of suggested reading:

  • Typee (1846)
  • Omoo (1847)
  • Redburn (1849)
  • White-Jacket (1850)
  • Moby Dick (1851)
  • Pierre (1852)
  • “Bartleby the Scrivener” (1853)
  • The Encantadas” (1854)
  • “Benito Cereno” (1855)
  • Israel Potter: His Fifty Years of Exile (1855)
  • The Confidence-Man (1857)

melville-1

Interesting fact:

Melville’s New York publisher’s house underwent a devastating fire in 1853 that destroyed most of his books.

Share a quote or excerpt of Herman Melville today in the comments or with your online community using the tag #HappyDeathDayMelville 

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