Great Short Works of Herman Melville

ISBN-10: 0060586540
ISBN-13: 9780060586546
Edition: 2004
Authors: Herman Melville
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Description: Billy Budd, Sailor and Bartleby, the Scrivener are two of the most revered shorter works of fiction in history. Here, they are collected along with 19 other stories in a beautifully redesigned collection that represents the best short work of an  More...

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Book details

List price: $13.99
Copyright year: 2004
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 3/2/2004
Binding: Paperback
Pages: 512
Size: 5.25" wide x 7.75" long x 0.75" tall
Weight: 0.880
Language: English

Billy Budd, Sailor and Bartleby, the Scrivener are two of the most revered shorter works of fiction in history. Here, they are collected along with 19 other stories in a beautifully redesigned collection that represents the best short work of an American master.As Warner Berthoff writes in his introduction to this volume, "It is hard to think of a major novelist or storyteller who is not also a first-rate entertainer ... a master, according to choice, of high comedy, of one or another robust species of expressive humour, or of some special variety of the preposterous, the grotesque, the absurd. And Melville, certainly, is no exception. A kind of vigorous supervisory humour is his natural idiom as a writer, and one particular attraction of his shorter work is the fresh further display it offers of this prime element in his literary character."

Melville was born into a seemingly secure, prosperous world, a descendant of prominent Dutch and English families long established in New York State. That security vanished when first, the family business failed, and then, two years later, in young Melville's thirteenth year, his father died. Without enough money to gain the formal education that professions required, Melville was thrown on his own resources and in 1841 sailed off on a whaling ship bound for the South Seas. His experiences at sea during the next four years were to form in part the basis of his best fiction. Melville's first two books, Typee (1846) and Omoo (1847), were partly romance and partly autobiographical travel books set in the South Seas. Both were popular successes, particularly Typee, which included a stay among cannibals and a romance with a South Sea maiden. During the next several years, Melville published three more romances that drew upon his experiences at sea: Redburn (1849) and White-Jacket (1850), both fairly realistic accounts of the sailor's life and depicting the loss of innocence of central characters; and Mardi (1849), which, like the other two books, began as a romance of adventure but turned into an allegorical critique of contemporary American civilization. Moby Dick (1851) also began as an adventure story, based on Melville's experiences aboard the whaling ship. However, in the writing of it inspired in part by conversations with his friend and neighbor Hawthorne and partly by his own irrepressible imagination and reading of Shakespeare and other Renaissance dramatists Melville turned the book into something so strange that, when it appeared in print, many of his readers and critics were dumbfounded, even outraged. Their misgivings were in no way resolved by the publication in 1852 of his next novel, Pierre; or, the Ambiguities Pierre; or, the Ambiguities, a deeply personal, desperately pessimistic work that tells of the moral ruination of an innocent young man. By the mid-1850s, Melville's literary reputation was all but destroyed, and he was obliged to live the rest of his life taking whatever jobs he could find and borrowing money from relatives, who fortunately were always in a position to help him. He continued to write, however, and published some marvelous short fiction pieces Benito Cereno" (1855) and "Bartleby, the Scrivener" (1853) are the best. He also published several volumes of poetry, the most important of which was Battle Pieces and Aspects of the War (1866), poems of occasionally great power that were written in response to the moral challenge of the Civil War. His posthumously published work, Billy Budd (1924), on which he worked up until the time of his death, is Melville's last significant literary work, a brilliant short novel that movingly describes a young sailor's imprisonment and death. Melville's reputation, however, rests most solidly on his great epic romance, Moby Dick. It is a difficult as well as a brilliant book, and many critics have offered interpretations of its complicated ambiguous symbolism. Darrel Abel briefly summed up Moby Dick as "the story of an attempt to search the unsearchable ways of God," although the book has historical, political, and moral implications as well.

Introduction
The Town-Ho's Story
Bartleby, the Scrivener: A Story of Wall-Street
Cock-A-Doodle-Dool or, The Crowing of the Noble Cock Beneventano
The Encantadas or Enchanted Isles
The Two Temples
Poor Man's Pudding and Rich Man's Crumbs
The Happy Failure: A Story of the River Hudson
The Lightning-Rod Man
The Fiddler
The Paradise of Bachelors and The Tartarus of Maids
The Bell-Tower
Benito Cereno
Jimmy Rose
I and My Chimney
The 'Gees
The Apple-Tree Table, or Original Spiritual Manifestations
The Piazza
The Marquis de Grandvin
Three "Jack Gentian Sketches"
John Marr
Daniel Orme
Billy Budd, Sailor
A Selected Bibliography
Chronology

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