October 10, 1928: Lewis Mumford on Herman Melville's legacy
"Call me Ishmael," the first sentence in Herman Melville's Moby Dick, is one of the most recognized opening lines in American literature. It's ascendency into not just literary, but cultural notoriety, began 162 years today, with the first publication of Melville's story of the white whale.
October 10, 1928
Herman Melville, the celebrated author behind Moby-Dick, would have been 194 today. In his honor, we bring you an essay by Lewis Mumford—a legend in his own right—on Melville's philosophy and outlook.
Editor’s Note: We’ll be running the article recommendations of our friends at TNR Reader each afternoon on The Plank, just in time to print out or save for your commute home. Enjoy! Herman Melville went to Jerusalem in search of spiritual enlightenment.
As the Occupy Wall Street protest blossoms across America, they are no doubt being watched over by the country’s patron saint of civil disobedience. Bartleby, the hero of Bartleby the Scrivener: A Story of Wall Street, Herman Melville’s deeply ambiguous ode to passive resistance, published in 1853, didn’t bang on a bongo drum, sport dreadlocks, or march on Manhattan with an “Eat the Rich” placard. But he did occupy Wall Street.
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow: Poems and Other Writings edited by J.D. McClatchy (The Library of America, 854 pp., $35) With the publication of F.O. Matthiessen's hugely influential American Renaissance in 1941, the modern-day pantheon of nineteenth-century American writers was established: Emerson, Thoreau, Hawthorne, Melville, Whitman. The only other writer to be admitted into this select company has been Emily Dickinson, a recluse who published only seven poems in her own time and was virtually unknown.