In the early twentieth century, the Melville revival revealed the genius that was Herman Melville. Largely overlooked during his lifetime, Melville produced 10 works in 11 years before his career as a writer came to an end. About 30 years after his death, a series of books, essays, and dissertations helped realize the writer who is now widely regarded as one of the great American novelists. The Melville Society, a non-profit organization, was founded in 1945 to ensure that the literary world would never neglect him again.
Melville’s works are known for their unparalleled depictions of life at sea and his metaphysical explorations. His time aboard whaling vessels provided him with an abundance of experiences to draw from, including three weeks spent among the Tai Pi Vai cannibals, described in his first novel, Typee. Typee and its sequel, Omoo, earned Melville a reputation as a prominent American author, but his later works were largely unappreciated, and finances remained a constant struggle. Today, many of Melville’s works are widely recognized as significant literary landmarks. Included in the five-volume Select Works of Herman Melville are Moby Dick, The Piazza Tales, Typee, Omoo, and The Confidence-Man.
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Herman Melville (1819–1891) was an American teacher, sailor, novelist, and lecturer. His most significant contributions to Western literature include Moby Dick, Bartleby the Scrivener, Benito Cereno, and Billy Budd, Sailor. His first novel, Typee, was an overnight sensation, giving him both a reputation as a great American writer and the man who lived with cannibals. Melville’s writing never earned him significant financial success, and his reputation as a writer was constantly in a state of decline after his first novel. Largely misunderstood in his day, Melville’s writings were almost entirely forgotten after his death. Decades later, significant scholarship emerged on Melville, and his genius was finally realized in the Melville revival of the twentieth century. Melville was the first writer whose works were published by the Library of America. His other works include Mardi and a Voyage Thither, Redburn, White-Jacket, Pierre, and Israel Potter.