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Carl Van Doren (1885–1950).  The American Novel.  1921.


Page 68

cheaply than native novels could be with the incumbrance of royalties to the native authors. Some Americans avoided competition by preferring short stories; others, by sinking to a lower level and manufacturing a cheap domestic grade of entertainment. All the more, then, do such figures as Cooper and Simms and Melville emerge from among the minor creatures of the day.

2. Herman Melville

  HERMAN MELVILLE much surpassed Simms and Cooper in boldness and energy of speculation and in richness and beauty of style. A grandson of the conservative old gentleman about whom Holmes wrote The Last Leaf, and son of a merchant of New York, Melville was born there in 1819. The early death of his father and the loss of the family fortune having narrowed Melville’s chances for higher schooling to a few months in the Albany Classical School, he turned his hand to farming for a year, shipped before the mast to Liverpool in 1837, taught school three years, and in 1841 sailed from New Bedford on a whaling voyage into the Pacific. Upon the experiences of that voyage his principal work is founded. The captain of the Acushnet, it seems, treated the crew badly, and Melville, with a companion whom he calls Toby, escaped from the ship to the island of Nukuheva (Nukuhiva) in the Marquesas and strayed into the cannibal valley Typee (Taipi), where the savages kept Melville, Toby having escaped again, four months in an “indulgent captivity.” Rescued by an Australian whaler, Melville visited Tahiti and other islands of the Society group, took part in a



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