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Herman Melville Paperback


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Product Details

  • Series: Grove Great Lives
  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Grove Press; 1st Grove Press ed edition (February 9, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0802138713
  • ISBN-13: 978-0802138712
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6.1 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,490,953 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

Grove expands its "Great Lives" series with these top-shelf biographies. Arvin's portrait of Melville snagged a National Book Award (NBA) in 1950 and is still a leading title on the sailor turned author. Germaine de Stael vigorously opposed Napoleon and had affairs with the leading intellectuals of her day, all of which are marvelously detailed in Herold's 1958 volume, which also won an NBA. Though not a prize winner, Turnbull's portrait of the short, unhappy life of Scott Fitzgerald was the leading biography of its time (1962) before being bested by Matthew Bruccoli's Some Sort of Epic Grandeur in 1981. All of these volumes are worthy editions to public and academic library collections.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

17 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Ethan Cooper VINE VOICE on April 3, 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Newton Arvin provides an involving overview of Herman Melville's personal life and literary career in this biography, which won the National Book Award in 1950. In contrast to many current biographies, Arvin clearly wrote this book and did not simply edit his lectures. This counts with me, since many biographies nowadays have the pace and style of lectures, not the elegance and precision of great written prose. The result, in this case, is that HERMAN MELVILLE is its own literary experience, not simply informed dictation transferred to the page.

Certainly, Herman Melville wrote what Arvin calls "one very great book." And Arvin does a wonderful job describing what he believes is great about MOBY DICK in his excellent chapter "The Whale". But he does an even better job addressing this question: Why didn't Melville write more great books after hitting his stride in MOBY DICK? The short answers to this question are burnout and Melville's failure, after MOBY DICK, to find a form to match his gifts. As Arvin explains, Melville chose, after his great book "...to write in a form that was as inexpressive to him as a foreign tongue." In a sense, this makes Melville's decline a lesson to all writers, as they grope for the form and structure that celebrates their content.

Although published in 1950, HERMAN MELVILLE holds up very well. By current mores, this biography probably underplays Melville's sexual issues and overplays its occasional Freudian insights. But the book is NOT dated.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful By J. McFarland on July 18, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Any fan of Melville's writing who has not read this seminal and still unequaled critical study and biography has sheer pleasure in store. Arvin's intelligence and immense knowledge are seamlessly matched by a writing style that is measured and seductive. Anybody reading this study without knowing jack about Melville would probably be so excited that s/he would have to rush out to buy the complete works. This book is worth whatever effort you have to invest to find a copy. The question is: why is this TRUE classic out-of-print?
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14 of 17 people found the following review helpful By J. McFarland on July 28, 2000
Format: Hardcover
This seminal critical biography of Melville is by far the best introduction to the life and work of Herman Melville. Arvin's book bristles with intelligence and insight and is, unlike many academic studies of Melville, highly readable. Search for it and when you get your own copy rejoice. Some smart publisher could do worse than bring this truly classic volume back into print.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By M. C. Dalen on March 3, 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is not the Newton Arvin book. It is rather a biography by his granddaughter Eleanor Melville Metcalf compiled of Melville's correspondences & the recollections of family members. Will post further once the book is read ...
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