Herman Melville

Herman Melville (August 1, 1819 – September 28, 1891) was an American novelist, writer of short stories, and poet from the American Renaissance period. Most of his writings were published between 1846 and 1857. Best known for his sea adventure Typee (1846) and his whaling novel Moby-Dick (1851), he was almost forgotten during the last thirty years of his life. Melville’s writing draws on his experience at sea as a common sailor, exploration of literature and philosophy, and engagement in the contradictions of American society in a period of rapid change. The main characteristic of his style is probably its heavy allusiveness, a reflection of his use of written sources. Melville’s way of adapting what he read for his own new purposes, scholar Stanley T. Williams wrote, “was a transforming power comparable to Shakespeare’s”.

Jimmy Rose

A TIME ago, no matter how long precisely, I, an old man, removed from the country to the city, having become unexpected heir to a great old house in a narrow street of one of the lower wards, once the haunt of style and fashion, full of gay parlors and bridal chambers, but now, for the most part, transformed into counting-rooms and warehouses. There bales and boxes usurp the place of sofas ; daybooks and ledgers are spread where once the delicious breakfast toast was buttered. In those old wards the glorious old soft-warfle days are over.


In all parts of the world many high-spirited revolts from rascally despotisms had of late been knocked on the head ; many dreadful casualties, by locomotive and steamer, had likewise knocked hundreds of high-spirited travelers on the head ( I lost a dear friend in one of them) ; my own private affairs were also full of despotisms, casualties, and knockings on the head, when early one morning in spring, being too full of hypoes to sleep, I sallied out to walk on my hillside pasture.

Poor Man’s Pudding and Rich Man’s Crumbs

YOU see," said poet Blandmour, enthusiastically—as some forty years ago we walked along the road in a soft, moist snowfall, toward the end of March—"you see, my friend, that the blessed almoner, Nature, is in all things beneficent ; and not only so, but considerate in her charities, as any discreet human philanthropist might be. This snow, now, which seems so unseasonable, is in fact just what a poor husbandman needs. Rightly is this soft March snow, falling just before seed-time, rightly it is called 'Poor Man's Manure.' Distilling from kind heaven upon the soil,

The Happy Failure

The appointment was that I should meet my elderly uncle at the riverside, precisely at nine in the morning. The skiff was to be ready, and the apparatus to be brought down by his grizzled old black man. As yet, the nature of the wonderful experiment remained a mystery to all but the projector. I was first on the spot. The village was high up the river, and the inland summer sun was already oppressively warm. Presently I saw my uncle advancing beneath the trees,

The Paradise of Bachelors and the Tartarus of Maids

It lies not far from Temple-Bar. Going to it, by the usual way, is like stealing from a heated plain into some cool, deep glen, shady among harboring hills. Sick with the din and soiled with the mud of Fleet Street—where the Benedick tradesmen are hurrying by, with ledger-lines ruled along their brows, thinking upon rise of bread and fall of babies—you adroitly turn a mystic corner—not a street—glide down a dim, monastic way flanked by dark, sedate, and solemn piles, and still wending on, give the whole care-worn world the slip, and, disentangled, stand beneath the quiet cloisters of the Paradise of Bachelors.

The Encantadas or Enchanted Isles

SKETCH FIRST.THE ISLES AT LARGE. --"That may not be, said then the ferryman, Least we unweeting hap to be fordonne; For those same islands seeming now and than, Are not firme land, nor any certein wonne, But stragling plots which to and fro do ronne In the wide waters; therefore are they hight The Wandering Islands; therefore do them shonne; For they have oft drawne many a wandring wight Into most deadly daunger and distressed plight; For whosoever once hath fastened His foot thereon may never it secure But wandreth evermore uncertein and unsure."

Bartleby the Scrivener

I AM a rather elderly man. The nature of my avocations for the last thirty years has brought me into more than ordinary contact with what would seem an interesting and somewhat singular set of men, of whom as yet nothing that I know of has ever been written:--I mean the law-copyists or scriveners. I have known very many of them, professionally and privately, and if I pleased, could relate divers histories, at which good-natured gentlemen might smile, and sentimental souls might weep. But I waive the biographies of all other scriveners for a few passages in the life of Bartleby,

The Piazza

"With fairest flowers, Whilst summer lasts, and I live here, Fidele--" When I removed into the country, it was to occupy an old-fashionedfarm-house, which had no piazza--a deficiency the more regretted,because not only did I like piazzas, as somehow combining the cozinessof in-doors with the freedom of out-doors, and it is so pleasant toinspect your thermometer there, but the country round about was such apicture, that in berry time no boy climbs hill or crosses vale withoutcoming upon easels planted in every nook, and sun-burnt painterspainting there.