14 November 2005


I imagine...
the confident and euphoric Melville at his cigar-and-port dinner with Nathaniel Hawthorne on or about publication day, unaware that the British edition was out, or botched; the British reviews describing his novel "as so much trash belonging to the worst school of Bedlam literature" winging their way to Boston by boat that very minute; the U.S. papers about to quote and re-quote the British press, showing not just a similar lack of insight but that they had not read the book, as the American edition was different, and not botched. The long-term personal and professional impact could not have been greater: "Taken all in all," writes Parker of Nov. 14, "this was the happiest day of Melville's life."
For on this day in 1851, Moby-Dick was published.

(Via Today in Lit)

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