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American Passages: A Literary SurveyUnit IndexAmerican Passages Home
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3. Utopian Promise   

3. Gothic Undercurrents

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Activities: Author Activities

Herman Melville - Selected Archive Items

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[1540] William Huggins, South Sea Whale Fishery (1834),
courtesy of the New Bedford Whaling Museum.
Colored aquatint of sperm whale and boats in rough seas. This popular scene was drawn on by American artists, such as author Herman Melville and painters Albert van Beest, R. Swain Gifford, and Benjamin Russell, as they played with the symbolism of America as "ship of state."

[2232] Rockwell Kent, Whale beneath the Sea (1930),
courtesy of the Plattsburgh State Art Museum.
This illustration dramatizes the smallness and vulnerability of the Pequod in relation to the whale and the vast ocean.

[2377] Rodney Dewey, Herman Melville (1861),
courtesy of the Berkshire Athenauem, Pittsfield, Massachusetts.
Picture of Melville while he was living at Arrowhead, his home in the Berkshire Mountains in Massachusetts. All of his best-known works, including Moby-Dick, were written during the thirteen years that he lived at Arrowhead.

[2378] Anonymous, Herman Melville (c. 1885),
courtesy of the Gansevoort-Lansing Collection, Manuscripts and Archives Division, The New York Public Library, Astor, Lenox and Tilden Foundations.
Picture taken around the time of Melville's retirement from his job as a customs inspector for the New York Customs House, where he worked for over twenty years.

[2386] The International Magazine of Literature, Art and Science, Herman Melville's Whale (1851),
courtesy of the Making of America Project, Cornell University Library.
This review of Moby-Dick appeared in December 1851. Moby-Dick's unusual narrative structure and philosophical underpinnings were disliked by readers as well as critics.

[2387] Putnam's Monthly Magazine of American Literature, Science and Art, "Our Young Authors"--Melville (1853),
courtesy of Cornell University, Making of America Digital Collection.
This review of Melville's work is typical of the way in which it was received by his contemporaries. The author praises Melville's early adventure novel Typee, while disparaging the philosophical bent that characterizes many of his later novels.

[2611] Walter Monteith Aikman, The Tontine Coffee House, Wall & Walter Streets, about 1797 (n.d.),
courtesy of the Library of Congress [LC-USZ62- 98020].
The Tontine Coffee House was a place where the financial men of New York City met to discuss money matters. Melville depicted the potentially dehumanizing effects of life on Wall Street in works like "Bartleby, the Scrivener."

[9009] Herman Melville, Chapter 16 of Moby-Dick, "The Ship" (1851),
courtesy of Project Gutenberg.
In this chapter Ishmael describes how he decided to sign aboard the Pequod, following Queequeg's superstitious insistence that Ishmael choose the ship to which they would commit themselves. Rife with foreboding, this chapter also includes the first description of Ahab.

[9010] Herman Melville, Chapter 10 of Moby-Dick, "A Bosom Friend" (1851),
courtesy of Project Gutenberg.
In this chapter Ishmael cements his friendship with future shipmate Queequeg. "I'll try a pagan friend," Ishmael says, "since Christian kindness has proved but hollow courtesy."

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