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Herman Melville Books

Herman Melville, Moby-Dick (1851)

Call me Ishmael! By the far the most famous of Herman Melville's novels, Moby-Dick (as it was originally titled) was actually a commercial flop when it was first published. How surprised Melville would be to find that it's his biggest hit 150 years later. It's a metaphysical mind-bender and a killer adventure story.

Herman Melville, Billy Budd (1924)

Discouraged by his poor literary reviews and waning popularity, Melville had long given up novel writing by the time he died in 1891. The unpublished manuscript of Billy Budd was found in his desk after his death. The story of a falsely accused sailor is now considered one of Melville's greatest works.

Herman Melville, Great Short Works of Herman Melville (2004)

Melville was a master of the short story form. Some of his greatest, most experimental work was done in this format, such as "Bartleby the Scrivener" and "Benito Cereno." (Please note: "The Town-Ho's Story" is NOT about what you think.)

Newton Arvin, Herman Melville (1950)

After more than half a century, this biography by literary critic Newton Arvin is considered one of the finest works about Herman Melville. Melville's life was a complicated one, full of great adventure and crushing disappointment. Arvin's account is a compelling look at a unique literary life.

Hershel Parker, Herman Melville: A Biography, Volume I, 1819-1851 and Volume II, 1851-1891 (2005)

Hershel Parker set out to write the definitive biography of Herman Melville, a goal he pursued, one reviewer said, "with a single-mindedness worthy of a Melville hero."_CITATION41_ The result is two volumes and thousands of pages of a biography that leaves no detail out, down to the dates of Melville's relatives' dental procedures.

Eric Jay Dolin, Leviathan: The History of Whaling in America (2008)

In addition to a great adventure story, Melville's Moby-Dick is also a detailed look at the business of whaling. This fascinating non-fiction book tells the complete story of the whaling industry in America. Whaling was a dangerous, difficult, messy business that Dolin's account brings to life.

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