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For a long time Herman Melville has been one of my favorite writers, perhaps the favorite. I read Moby Dick in junior year of high school in 1968 and was totally mesmerized. I have re-read it at least five or six times and it amazes me every time. I've also read all of his other novels, some of which were very difficult to read, but always worthwhile and interesting. When you read them in order: Typee, Omoo, Mardi, Redburn, White-jacket--you can see Moby Dick coming. After that book came one of the strangest by many accounts, Pierre. One critic said never had such a sublime work been followed by such a troubled work.
When people ask me what I like about Moby Dick it is always hard to answer. I think it has something to do with Melville's outlook on things. Sometimes he can be incredibly upbeat but at others he can definitely be a "downer." Maybe something in me identifies with that, for better or worse. There's something in it about human connections, both the importance and the lack of them, that gets me, too.
Not always easy to read, but always time well-spent, in my opinion. I look forward to reading Moby Dick a few more times before I can't read anymore someday!
Books and other items by Herman Melville at the Tottenville Library can be found by clicking here.
There are a number of good biographies of Melville. Two that I have read are Herman Melville by Newton Arvin and Herman Melville: A Biography, Vol. 1 and Vol. 2 by Hershel Parker. Unfortunately Volume 1 cannot be checked out, but Volume 2 can. It is an enormous work. I've only read Volume 1, but Volume 2 is on my "to be read someday" list! And there are a lot of other biographies about Melville at NYPL. Check here.
(Image from NYPL Digital Gallery)