Moby Dick or The Whale

Author: Herman Melville

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Moby Dick is a novel published in 1851. It narrates the voyage of the whaling ship Pequod, commanded by Captain Ahab, along with Ishmael and the harpooner Queequeg in the obsessive and self-destructive pursuit of a great white sperm whale.

Apart from the pursuit and evolution of its characters, the novel's subject matter is eminently encyclopedic, as it includes detailed and extensive descriptions of whaling in the 19th century and a multitude of other details about the seafaring life of the time.

Perhaps for this reason the novel was not a commercial success when it was first published, although it later served to cement the author's reputation and place him among the best American writers.


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Bartleby The Scrivener A Story Of Wall Street

Herman Melville

Bartleby, The Scrivener is a short story by Herman Melville, first published in 1853. The central character is so striking and the story so powerful that it has fascinated readers and critics alike.

A New York lawyer in the mid-19th century decides to hire a new scrivener. Heeding the lawyer's advertisement, a young man appears at his office door characterized as a "pale, clean, pitifully respectable, incurably forlorn" figure. It was Bartleby. At first, the new scrivener worked doing what was expected of him: copying.

This is an intriguing moral allegory set in the business world of mid-19th century New York. Bartleby forces his employer to confront the most basic questions of human responsibility, and torments the latter's conscience, even after Bartleby's dismissal.

Battle Pieces and Aspects of the War

Herman Melville

Battle Pieces and Aspects of War is a book of poetry, specifically 72 lyrical and narrative poems. Its plot revolves around the battles and personalities of the American Civil War and its aftermath. It also includes notes in which the author sets out his ideas on how reconstruction should be carried out after the war.

It is divided into two sections: The first is the longer section and focuses on the battles. The second, shorter section consists of epitaphs and requiems. It was published in 1866, a year after the end of the war, and its initial reception was not entirely favorable.

Among the poems are "The Portent", "A Requiem For Soldiers Lost In Ocean Transports", "The Frenzy In The Wake Sherman's Advance Through The Carolinas", "Look-Out Mountain The Night Fight", and "On the Slain at Chickamauga".

I and My Chimney

Herman Melville

I and My Chimney is a short story originally published in 1856. In a humorous style (which may or may not be to the reader's liking) it tells the story of a man and his cherished chimney.

The plot revolves around an old man's dispute with his wife over the future of a chimney placed in the center of their home. The man wants to keep it at all costs, while the wife wants to remove it because its large size hinders comfort inside the house, creating domestic discomfort and inconvenience.

It is said that although this is a fictional story it is based on the huge Arrowhead chimney, in fact, in honor of this book its opening paragraphs are printed on this chimney.

Israel Potter

Herman Melville

It is a book based on an autobiography Melville acquired in the 1840s, entitled Life and Remarkable Adventures of Israel R. Potter. Israel Potter was published in the year 1855.

The story is set during the American Revolution, where our protagonist participates in the Battle of Bunker Hill, receiving multiple wounds. Contrary to what many would think or do, he decides to volunteer to continue fighting after hearing a speech by George Washington.

This time it is his turn to do so at sea, where he is unfortunately captured by the British navy and taken to England. Fortunately he manages to escape, which will trigger a series of extraordinary adventures that Israel will face with courage. He will also cross paths with renowned characters such as King George III and Benjamin Franklin, who pressure him to work as a spy.

John Marr and Other Poems

Herman Melville

Melville is recognized as a great writer of novels and short stories, but he also dabbled in poetry. He may not be well known for the latter, but his work is definitely something worth reading, as he was very capable of mastering the meter.

His collection entitled John Marr and Other Poems consists of a series of short and long lyric poems in which the writer makes clear his sensitivity, his reactions to how life was lived in his time, his opinions on the political issues of the day and events such as the Civil War. In this compendium we find a mixture of marine and battle poems.

In John Marr we have an old sailor who has left the sea for the vastness of the prairies. Those who inhabit the place where he arrives, although kind, he considers them somewhat rigid and lacking in freedom and geniality.