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Laurel
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Re: How long did it take?

Thanks, Choisya. It's amazing to me that this book didn't take ten years or more to write.



Choisya wrote:
My Notes(to the Wordswoth edition) say 'It is speculated that Melville bagan the book in February 1850. Certainly by 1 May of that year he was well on with it, writing to his fellow whaleman Richard Henry Dana to say, among other things, that the book was half done....Moby Dick wasn't finally finished until the end of the summer of the following year.' Various reasons seem to be given for the delay - he bought a farm, and he met Hawthorne, who influenced him greatly. Ahab only became 'a looming stage presence after August 1850, the darkness of Hawthorne's imagination perhaps enabling Melville to siphon Shakespeare into his prose in a way that previously he hadn't found possible'.




Laurel wrote:
I keep wondering how long Melville spent writing Moby Dick. Does anyone know?





"Truth must of necessity be stranger than fiction, for fiction is the creation of the human mind, and therefore is congenial to it." ~~G.K. Chesterton
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Re: How long did it take?-not that long unfortunately

[ Edited ]
Laurel wonders: "I keep wondering how long Melville spent writing Moby Dick. Does anyone know?"
--------

yes, it's no secret although I do not remember exactly but a year and a half about. He was really absorbed in writing it. It's in the biography links, somewhere, I think.

ziki

Message Edited by ziki on 01-06-200707:39 PM

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amazing?



Laurel wrote:It's amazing to me that this book didn't take ten years or more to write.




...but it can certainly take ten years to read, LOL.

ziki

discuss please:
(it's not a rule but generally the more work a writer puts down the less work reader has to do and the opposite...prove me wrong because this is just a momentary thought that hit me right now, hehe)
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Laurel
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Re: amazing?


ziki wrote:
discuss please:
(it's not a rule but generally the more work a writer puts down the less work reader has to do and the opposite...prove me wrong because this is just a momentary thought that hit me right now, hehe)


That is a good point for discussion, ziki! What just hit me is that it might depend on the writer and what he is trying to say.
"Truth must of necessity be stranger than fiction, for fiction is the creation of the human mind, and therefore is congenial to it." ~~G.K. Chesterton
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Choisya
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Re: How long did it take?

Me too Laurel but I think Melville did an awful lot of reading and research before he embarked on the book. Some authors research as they write, others do it beforehand. I think Melville did it before and during - I think someone here has commented that he was a polymath and it shows!




Laurel wrote:
Thanks, Choisya. It's amazing to me that this book didn't take ten years or more to write.



Choisya wrote:
My Notes(to the Wordswoth edition) say 'It is speculated that Melville bagan the book in February 1850. Certainly by 1 May of that year he was well on with it, writing to his fellow whaleman Richard Henry Dana to say, among other things, that the book was half done....Moby Dick wasn't finally finished until the end of the summer of the following year.' Various reasons seem to be given for the delay - he bought a farm, and he met Hawthorne, who influenced him greatly. Ahab only became 'a looming stage presence after August 1850, the darkness of Hawthorne's imagination perhaps enabling Melville to siphon Shakespeare into his prose in a way that previously he hadn't found possible'.




Laurel wrote:
I keep wondering how long Melville spent writing Moby Dick. Does anyone know?








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Choisya
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Re: amazing?

That doesn't seem to follow with Melville ziki because he put a great deal of research into MD, before and during the writing of the book.




ziki wrote:


Laurel wrote:It's amazing to me that this book didn't take ten years or more to write.




...but it can certainly take ten years to read, LOL.

ziki

discuss please:
(it's not a rule but generally the more work a writer puts down the less work reader has to do and the opposite...prove me wrong because this is just a momentary thought that hit me right now, hehe)



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Re: amazing?



Choisya wrote:
That doesn't seem to follow with Melville ziki because he put a great deal of research into MD, before and during the writing of the book.





As I see it research is not the whole work..once he gathered the facts then comes writing...the presentation.

ziki
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Laurel
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Re: amazing?



ziki wrote:


Choisya wrote:
That doesn't seem to follow with Melville ziki because he put a great deal of research into MD, before and during the writing of the book.





As I see it research is not the whole work..once he gathered the facts then comes writing...the presentation.

ziki





Again, it depends on the writer. Some are writing and editing in their heads while doing research.
"Truth must of necessity be stranger than fiction, for fiction is the creation of the human mind, and therefore is congenial to it." ~~G.K. Chesterton
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fanuzzir
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Re: amazing?

Melville is supposed to have been profoundly influenced by his reading of and acquaintaince with Hawthorne, which occured in a break between his whaling research and first draft, completed largly in NYC, and the writing of the last draft, in Pittsfield Mass. People looking for the clues of influence, or of the major changes and themes that emerged in the finished version can consult "Hawthorne and His Mosses."
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Laurel
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Melville's motto?

"I try all things; I achieve what I can."

ch. 79, last sentence of first paragraph.

cf. ch 104:

"No great and enduring volume can ever be written on the flea, though many there be who have tried it."
"Truth must of necessity be stranger than fiction, for fiction is the creation of the human mind, and therefore is congenial to it." ~~G.K. Chesterton
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friery
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Re: Melville's motto?


Laurel wrote:
"I try all things; I achieve what I can."

ch. 79, last sentence of first paragraph.

cf. ch 104:

"No great and enduring volume can ever be written on the flea, though many there be who have tried it."




I like this quote from the end of the Cetology chapter:

"God keep me from ever completing anything. This whole book is but a draught - nay, but the draught of a draught. Oh Time, Strength, Cash, and Patience!"
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fanuzzir
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Re: Melville's motto?



friery wrote:

Laurel wrote:
"I try all things; I achieve what I can."

ch. 79, last sentence of first paragraph.

cf. ch 104:

"No great and enduring volume can ever be written on the flea, though many there be who have tried it."




I like this quote from the end of the Cetology chapter:

"God keep me from ever completing anything. This whole book is but a draught - nay, but the draught of a draught. Oh Time, Strength, Cash, and Patience!"




That line made quite an impression on me as well. He's really able to be honest about the rigor and literal expense of the writing process.
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Laurel
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Re: Melville's motto?



friery wrote:

Laurel wrote:
"I try all things; I achieve what I can."

ch. 79, last sentence of first paragraph.

cf. ch 104:

"No great and enduring volume can ever be written on the flea, though many there be who have tried it."




I like this quote from the end of the Cetology chapter:

"God keep me from ever completing anything. This whole book is but a draught - nay, but the draught of a draught. Oh Time, Strength, Cash, and Patience!"




Right! I had forgotten that one.
"Truth must of necessity be stranger than fiction, for fiction is the creation of the human mind, and therefore is congenial to it." ~~G.K. Chesterton
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Choisya
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Re: Melville's motto?

LOL. I think readers feel like that too, except the Cash bit. BTW Brits spell draught draft:smileyhappy: Draught refers to a small breeze blowing through a crack:smileyhappy:




friery wrote:

Laurel wrote:
"I try all things; I achieve what I can."

ch. 79, last sentence of first paragraph.

cf. ch 104:

"No great and enduring volume can ever be written on the flea, though many there be who have tried it."




I like this quote from the end of the Cetology chapter:

"God keep me from ever completing anything. This whole book is but a draught - nay, but the draught of a draught. Oh Time, Strength, Cash, and Patience!"


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Laurel
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A Whale of a Man

http://www.al.com/books/mobileregister/jsledge.ssf?/base/entertainment/116868339824390.xml&coll=3
"Truth must of necessity be stranger than fiction, for fiction is the creation of the human mind, and therefore is congenial to it." ~~G.K. Chesterton
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donyskiw
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Re: Melville's biography

Melville actually spent a lot of time at sea in the navy and aboard a whaler. So, his sea stories are not wholly built up of just research (although he did a lot of that, too, in an effort to be authentic). He also had some mental health issues, depression perhaps, that affected his family life. At some point, his in-laws considered urging his wife to legally separate from him.

Denise



fanuzzir wrote:
Herman Melville had a checkered professional and personal life befitting an ambitious, and in his own mind at least, unappreciated artist. Does anyone have any insight into the writer's life that will shed light on his novel[s]?


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donyskiw
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Re: melville popular in UK

The novel is certainly timeless in regards to class and race. And at the end, there is the sense of "What did it all come to?" or maybe how the person in charge, because his power was absolute, or his station higher, wasted the lives of the others.

Denise



fanuzzir wrote:
I really love what you all turned up here. It is a fact that Melville found great favor in the UK, though it is not always easy to see why. Choisya's post really helps: the reading public of England was informed by various social reforms of the 1840s and 50s that directly addressed the issue of class inequality and working class rights. Class, as you may have guessed, had the importance in GB that slavery and race had in the same period in the USA. Indeed, working class activists of the US were furious that abolitionists had stolen their thunder.
What does this have to say about Moby Dick? As you may have discovered, the first few chapter are on the ground, ritualistic, documentary accounts of working class life on a ship--without Whitman's homoerotics but still filled with sympathy and first hand knowledge. You can see this as well in Billy Budd, which I think is Melville's tightest novel.
As for the question of Moby Dick's failure in the mid-nineteenth century: a travel narrative stuffed with philosophical meaning violated the rules of literary enjoyment. For philosophy, one read Emerson; for travel narratives, one was supposed to read writers like Melville had once been. So there's really the question of why and when it was acclaimed. Again, thank you Choisya: a "Melville Revivial" of the 1920s that discovered the lost text of Billy Budd turned into an American studies academic discipline that was looking for a "Cold War" text to anchor the field and say something meaningful about the ideological struggle of American liberal democracy with Communism. And Moby Dick fit the bill. Why? Let's talk more and find out.


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fanuzzir
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Why Moby Dick became a classic



donyskiw wrote:
The novel is certainly timeless in regards to class and race. And at the end, there is the sense of "What did it all come to?" or maybe how the person in charge, because his power was absolute, or his station higher, wasted the lives of the others.

Denise




You just answered the question I was posing below, of why MD fit the times of the 1950s but not of the 1850s. Modern readers wanted to hear about the perils of absolute power; they were receptive to the idea of totalitarian power wasting the lives of others. WWII and the Cold War had taught them to think that way. Readers of Melville's time, on the other hand, loved heroes and outlandish ambition. The most popular plays were Shakespeare's tragedies, out of which Melville fashioned his hero. Better to have wasted lives than never to have been in charge, they believed.
Thanks Denise!
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donyskiw
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Re: Why Moby Dick became a classic

You're welcome!

Denise



fanuzzir wrote:


donyskiw wrote:
The novel is certainly timeless in regards to class and race. And at the end, there is the sense of "What did it all come to?" or maybe how the person in charge, because his power was absolute, or his station higher, wasted the lives of the others.

Denise




You just answered the question I was posing below, of why MD fit the times of the 1950s but not of the 1850s. Modern readers wanted to hear about the perils of absolute power; they were receptive to the idea of totalitarian power wasting the lives of others. WWII and the Cold War had taught them to think that way. Readers of Melville's time, on the other hand, loved heroes and outlandish ambition. The most popular plays were Shakespeare's tragedies, out of which Melville fashioned his hero. Better to have wasted lives than never to have been in charge, they believed.
Thanks Denise!



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