This Day in History

by tosca on Friday, November 14, 2008

Just a quick fly-by post. More a 'did you know' than anything else.

November 14th, 1851 'Moby Dick' by Herman Melville (born 1819) was published by Harper & Brothers in New York. Today, the tale of the whaling ship has long been considered a classic novel. Who would have known at the time that 'Call me Ishmael' would go on to become one of the most well-known fiction opening lines? Personally, I'm betting it's right up there with, 'It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.'

While Monsieur Melville's novel might be a great American classic today, for many years this was not the case. In fact, it bombed when it was first released, and at the time did not manage to live up to the hype of his first two successful novels (Typee and Omoo). In 1865 Melville left writing behind to become a customs inspector, and died in 1891. It wasn't until the 1920s that his work was 'discovered' (I'm not sure he would have considered it missing) by scholars, and from there ended up on high school reading lists.

Interestingly enough, Melville's final novel 'Billy Budd' was not published until 1924, a full 33 years after his death. Information for this post taken from The History Channel - This Day In History's lead story 'Moby-Dick published'. (Image taken from Claudia Knits).

'Call me Ishmael...'

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