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B Herman MELVILLE
Born, New York
August 1, 1819 Died, New York
September 28, 1891 • Moby-Dick, or the Whale' was first published at New York in 1851. In England it was first published as 'The Whale' in a three-volume expurgated edition in 1851. In 'The World's Classics' the author's own text was first published in 1920, and reprinted in 1921, and 1922 twice. The arrangement of the opening pages is also Herman Melville's.
Printed in Great Britain by Hazell, Watson & Viney, Ld.,
London and Aylesbury.
Moby Dick is a dramatic story, with moveilles ment and suspense and human passion, but
more than half its pages are given to an exact account of the parts of the whale and of the process of whale-hunting. And if one concludes at the end of it that Herman Melville is one of the greatest of all imaginative writers, it is as much for each page of scientifically accurate description as for any other part of it. There has never been such imaginative description of fact. The infinite detail of the whale, its measurements, its blubber, its oil, its lashless eyes, its riddled brow- these are the reality with which the wild spirit of thought is interlocked. It is the opposite school from that which prefers to dispense with reality as a start for imagination, and can find it more easily in fairies and fantasies and imps and gnomes than in these ropes and buckets. That taste would rather not stop to measure and examine a whale when it can have a fairy whom fancy can make any size, and whose robe may be of rainbow colours. Is that profusion imagination? Or does imagination not rather spring from some great restriction such as the whiteness of this whalewhiteness 'which strikes more of panic to the soul than that redness which affrights in blood.'
Moby Dick is the high-water mark of Herman Melville's achievement. Its narrative and record