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)

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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 

Death Day – A Tribute to John Steinbeck

Celebrating the Life of John Steinbeck

On December 20, 1968 John Steinbeck passed away from heart disease in his humble abode located in New York City. Steinbeck was best known for his literature on California, the working class and the land that ruled them. He was a Stanford student without ever completing his degree. He worked, wrote, and inspired American writers for ages to come.

steinbeck

I have come to believe that a great teacher is a great artist and that there are as few as there are any other great artists. Teaching might even be the greatest of the arts since the medium is the human mind and spirit. – Steinbeck

Favorite Quotes: 

“In utter loneliness a writer tries to explain the inexplicable.”

“The writer must believe that what he is doing is the most important thing in the world. And he must hold to this illusion even when he knows it is not true.”

Incomplete List of Suggested Reading:

  • Cup of Gold (1929)
  • The Pastures of Heaven (1932)
  • To a God Unknown (1933)
  • Tortilla Flat (1935)
  • In Dubious Battle (1936)
  • Of Mice and Men (1937)
  • The Long Valley (1938)
  • The Grapes of Wrath (1939)*
  • Sea of Cortez (1941)
  • The Moon Is Down (1942)
  • Cannery Row (1945)
  • The Pearl (1947)
  • Burning Bright (1950)
  • East of Eden (1952)
  • The Winter of Our Discontent (1961)
  • Travels with Charley: In Search of America (1962)**
*Pulitzer Prize Winner
**Nobel Prize for Literature

Interesting Fact:

Steinbeck visited Vietnam in 1967 to report on the war where he spent a night on watch for his two sons and the platoon to sleep.