A Biography. Vol. 2, 1851-1891Book - 2002
A second volume in the acclaimed biography chronicles Melville's life from the conclusion of Moby Dick to his death forty years later, documenting the negative reviews that overshadowed his work, his decision to turn to magazine fiction, and his achievements as a poet, as culled from family letters, diary entries, and newspaper articles.
Volume two of this massive biography begins just after the private Moby-Dick post-publication meeting between Hawthorne and Melville, when Hawthorne, anxious to show his respect and gratitude for Melville's dedication to Hawthorne in Moby-Dick , reads the work while Sophia Hawthorne packs belongings and minds the children. Melville writes Sophia after receiving Hawthorne's comments, saying that Hawthorne had shown him "the part-&-parcel allegoricalness of the whole," had clarified the "specialty of many of the particular subordinate allegories." This epic life story ends with, among other things, a description of Melville's Twenty-sixth Street house. Hershel Parker is co-editor of the 1967 Norton Critical Edition of Moby-Dick and Associate General Editor of the Northwestern-Newberry edition of The Writings of Herman Melville . Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
Johns Hopkins University Press
The first volume of Hershel Parker's definitive biography of Herman Melville-a finalist for the 1997 Pulitzer Prize-closed on a mid-November day in 1851. In the dining room of the Little Red Inn in Lenox, Massachusetts, Melville had just presented an inscribed copy of his new novel, Moby-Dick, to his intimate friend, Nathaniel Hawthorne, the man to whom the work was dedicated. "Take it all in all," Parker concluded, "this was the happiest day of Melville's life."
Herman Melville: A Biography, Volume 2, 1851-1891 chronicles Melville's life in rich detail, from this ecstatic moment to his death, in obscurity, forty years later. Parker describes the malignity of reviewers and sheer bad luck that doomed Moby-Dick to failure (and its author to prolonged indebtedness), the savage reviews he received for his next book Pierre, and his inability to have the novel The Isle of the Cross-now lost-published at all. Melville turned to magazine fiction, writing the now-classic "Bartleby" and "Benito Cereno," and produced a final novel, The Confidence Man, a mordant satire of American optimism. Over his last three decades, while working as a customs inspector in Manhattan, Melville painstakingly remade himself as a poet, crafting the centennial epic Clarel, in which he sorted out his complex feelings for Hawthorne, and the masterful story "Billy Budd," originally written as a prose headnote to an unfinished poem.
Through prodigious archival research into hundreds of family letters and diary entries, newly discovered newspaper articles, and marginalia from books that Melville owned, Parker vividly recreates the last four decades of Melville's life, episode after episode unknown to previous biographers. The concluding volume of Herman Melville: A Biography confirms Hershel Parker's position as the world's leading Melville scholar, demonstrating his unrivaled biographical, literary, and historical imagination and providing a rich new portrait of a great-and profoundly American-artist.
Traces Melville's life from his childhood in New York, through his adventures abroad as a sailor, to his creation of "Moby-Dick," and forty years later, to his death, in obscurity