Melville's Reviewers: British and American, 1846-1891

By Hugh W. Hetherington | Go to book overview

Chapter VIII: AFTER MOBY- DICK

"He has added satire to his repertory, and as he uses it scrupulously, he uses it well."-- George Henry Lewes (?) ( 1857), reviewing The Confidence-Man.


PIERRE: AMERICAN RECEPTION

Once more Melville commenced a new book with the idea of aiming at sales and acceptance. He had begun all the others to provide men with the vicarious excitement of nautical adventure--both the four in which he had stayed within the confines of what the public supposedly wanted, and the two in which he had rebelled against such restraint--Mardi and Moby-Dick. Now it occurred to him there was another potential audience, the women; and he wrote to Sophia Hawthorne--surprised that she had enjoyed pursuing the white whale-- to promise that he would not send her another "bowl of sea water," because the "next chalice" he would "commend" would be a "rural bowl of milk."1

He tried to have his new book offered first to the English readers, as his other six works had been. Thus, although the Harpers had in February, 1852, accepted it for publication, he was, on April 16, sending the proof sheets to Bentley, promising to delay the American publication until he had made "some satisfactory negotiation in London."2 To persuade the obviously reluctant Bentley to bring out his new book in England, he described his completed manuscript as if it were indeed the "bowl of milk" he had originally envisioned, and he made clear the implications of that metaphor--which he did not now employ, though it was clearly in his mind. It would be "a regular romance," with a "mysterious plot," "stirring passions," pre-

____________________
1
Log, p. 445.
2
Log, p. 449.

-227-

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Melville's Reviewers: British and American, 1846-1891
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Preface vii
  • Contents xi
  • List of Illustrations xii
  • Chapter I: Reviewers British And American 3
  • Chapter II: Typee 20
  • Chapter III: Omoo 66
  • Chapter IV: Mardi 100
  • Chapter V: Redburn 135
  • Chapter VI: White Jacket 157
  • Chapter VII: Moby-Dick 189
  • Chapter VIII: After Moby- Dick 227
  • Chapter IX: "Dead Letters" 265
  • Index 293
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