I cling to the idea that Herman Melville had to work at the end of his career watching ships in a dock, as a shipping agent in New York. Any writer who thinks they should be given patronage because of their gift... you don't have to look too far in history to see that's just not the case.
Herman Melville said that artists have to take a dive and either you hit your head on a rock and you split your skull and you die ... or that blow to the head is so inspiring that you come back and do the best work that you ever did. BUT you have to take the dive and you do not know what the results will be.
We are befouling and destroying our own home, we are committing a slow but accelerating race suicide and life murder - planetary biocide. Now there is a mighty theme for a mighty book but a challenge to which no modern novelist or poet has yet responded. Where is our Melville, our Milton, our Thomas Mann when we need him most?
What I treasure most at any moment is intimacy, surprise, a sense of mystery, wit, depth and love. A handful of cherished friends offer me this, and the occasional singer or film-maker or artist. But my most reliable sources of electricity are Henry David Thoreau, Shakespeare, Melville and Emily Dickinson.
The great American writer Herman Melville says somewhere in The White Whale that a man ought to be 'a patriot to heaven,' and I believe it is a good thing, this ambition to be a cosmopolitan, this idea to be citizens not of a small parcel of the world that changes according to the currents of politics, according to the wars, to what occurs, but to feel that the whole world is our country.
Jorge Luis Borges
Melville had to fight, fight against the existing world, against his own very self. Only he would never quite put the knife in the heart of his paradisal ideal. Somehow, somewhere, somewhen, love should be a fulfillment, and life should be a thing of bliss. That was his fixed ideal. Fata Morgana. That was the pin he tortured himself on, like a pinned-down butterfly.
D. H. Lawrence
I don't have a favorite author; I have favorite books. 'Moby Dick' is a favorite book, but Melville was a drunk who beat his wife. 'Moveable Feast' by Hemingway, but I would not like him personally. He was a stupid macho person who believed in shooting animals for fun, but that book was incredible!
Suicide creates his own society: to shut yourself off from other people in some dingy, rented box and stare, like Melville's Bartleby, day in and day out at the dead wall outside your window is in itself a rejection of the world which is said to be rejecting you. It is a way of saying, like Bartleby, 'I prefer not to' to every offer and every possibility, which is a condition no amount of social engineering will cure.
IN ANSWER TO THE QUESTION: WHAT SCENES ONE WOULD LIKE TO HAVE FILMED Shakespeare in the part of the King's Ghost. The beheading of Louis the Sixteenth, the drums drowning his speech on the scaffold. Herman Melville at breakfast, feeling a sardine to his cat. Poe's wedding. Lewis Carroll's picnics. The Russians leaving Alaska, delighted with the deal. Shot of a seal applauding.
The bible is very resonant. It has everything, creation, betrayal, lust, poetry, prophecy, sacrifice. All great things are in the bible and all great writers have drawn from it and more than people realise, whether Shakespeare, Herman Melville or Bob Dylan. Of course there are stories that are still relevant and inspiring; lessons that need to be taught over and over again. And they give people hope.
I am not a religious person, nor do I have any regrets. The war took care of that for me. You know, I was brought up strictly kosher, but I - it made no sense to me. It made no sense to me what was happening. So nothing of it means anything to me. Nothing. Except these few little trivial things that are related to being Jewish. ... You know who my gods are, who I believe in fervently? Herman Melville, Emily Dickinson - she's probably the top - Mozart, Shakespeare, Keats. These are wonderful gods who have gotten me through the narrow straits of life.
In many college English courses the words "myth" and "symbol" are given a tremendous charge of significance. You just ain't no good unless you can see a symbol hiding, like a scared gerbil, under every page. And in many creative writing course the little beasts multiply, the place swarms with them. What does this Mean? What does that Symbolize? What is the Underlying Mythos? Kids come lurching out of such courses with a brain full of gerbils. And they sit down and write a lot of empty pomposity, under the impression that that's how Melville did it.
Ursula K. Le Guin
Art has always been my salvation. And my gods are Herman Melville, Emily Dickinson, Mozart. I believe in them with all my heart. And when Mozart is playing in my room, I am in conjunction with something I can't explain "" I don't need to. I know that if there's a purpose for life, it was for me to hear Mozart. Or if I walk in the woods and I see an animal, the purpose of my life was to see that animal. I can recollect it, I can notice it. I'm here to take note of. And that is beyond my ego, beyond anything that belongs to me, an observer, an observer.
You could use a moth like that as a symbol in a novel, but it was trite, wasn't it? The old moth-to-the-flame image had been used and used again. It was the stuff of amateur poetry. And she, having so little experience crafting a story, would be the most in danger of falling into trite approaches. If she wrote a novel, it probably would be about her father. And the male Luna moth would haunt its pages. Everyone would recognize the work as that of a first novelist. 'She wrote about herself through the lens of her father.' The really good novelists, Laura thought, put their fathers, and maybe their mothers too, deeper into the stories. Which, she suddenly thought, might redeem Melville just the littlest bit.
Gene Wolfe is the greatest writer in the English language alive today. Let me repeat that: Gene Wolfe is the greatest writer in the English language alive today! I mean it. Shakespeare was a better stylist, Melville was more important to American letters, and Charles Dickens had a defter hand at creating characters. But among living writers, there is nobody who can even approach Gene Wolfe for brilliance of prose, clarity of thought, and depth in meaning
The Pacific, greatest of oceans, has an area exceeding that of all dry land on the planet. Herman Melville called it "the tide-beating heart of earth." Covering more than a third of the planet's surface-as much as the Atlantic, Indian, and Arctic oceans combined-it's the largest geographical feature in the world. Its awesome 165, 384, 000 square km (up to 16, 000 km wide and 11, 000 km long) have an average depth of around 4, 000 meters. Half the world's liquid water is stored here. You could drop the entire dry landmass of our planet into the Pacific and still have room for another continent the size of Asia. One theory claims the moon may have been flung from the Pacific while the world was still young.
Do you know why teachers use me? Because I speak in tongues. I write metaphors. Every one of my stories is a metaphor you can remember. The great religions are all metaphor. We appreciate things like Daniel and the lion's den, and the Tower of Babel. People remember these metaphors because they are so vivid you can't get free of them and that's what kids like in school. They read about rocket ships and encounters in space, tales of dinosaurs. All my life I've been running through the fields and picking up bright objects. I turn one over and say, Yeah, there's a story. And that's what kids like. Today, my stories are in a thousand anthologies. And I'm in good company. The other writers are quite often dead people who wrote in metaphors: Edgar Allan Poe, Herman Melville, Washington Irving, Nathaniel Hawthorne. All these people wrote for children. They may have pretended not to, but they did.
She [Mary Maclane] is almost always referred to as 'confessional.' She has been referred to, several times, as the first blogger. Whereas her writing does not confess much - it is much more spiritual memoir than anything, or perhaps something akin to a mystic's courtly love, directed at the self. I am wondering what distinguishes writing as confessional... I keep on feeling I prefer the latter-day MacLane, the diary she wrote while convalescing from scarlet fever back home in Butte, Montana, I, Mary MacLane, that Melville House is only publishing as an ebook. Mary MacLane melancholy, totally isolated. Feeling intense disquiet. Now in her early thirties, meditating on her whirlwind celebrity, in cities, feeling distanced from all that, but longing for it too. Obsessed with the Mary MacLane who stopped writing, or stopped publishing books, who was involved with the anarchist/bohemian crowd in Chicago, with the Dill Pickle, who died in poverty and obscurity on the South Side at the age of 48. I want to write about her, but I don't know how or why yet.
To the bankrupt poet, to the jilted lover, to anyone who yearns to elude the doubt within and the din without, the tidal strait between Manhattan Island and her favorite suburb offers the specious illusion of easy death. Melville prepared for the plunge from the breakwater on the South Street promenade, Whitman at the railing of the outbound ferry, both men redeemed by some Darwinian impulse, maybe some epic vision, which enabled them to change leaden water into lyric wine. Hart Crane rejected the limpid estuary for the brackish swirl of the Caribbean Sea. In each generation, from Washington Irving's to Truman Capote's, countless young men of promise and talent have examined the rippling foam between the nation's literary furnace and her literary playground, questioning whether the reams of manuscript in their Brooklyn lofts will earn them garlands in Manhattan's salons and ballrooms, wavering between the workroom and the water. And the city had done everything in its power to assist these men, to ease their affliction and to steer them toward the most judicious of decisions. It has built them a bridge.
Jacob M. Appel
The heroic and often tragic stories of American whalemen were renowned. They sailed the world's oceans and brought back tales filled with bravery, perseverance, endurance, and survival. They mutinied, murdered, rioted, deserted, drank, sang, spun yarns, scrimshawed, and recorded their musings and observations in journals and letters. They survived boredom, backbreaking work, tempestuous seas, floggings, pirates, putrid food, and unimaginable cold. Enemies preyed on them in times of war, and competitors envied them in times of peace. Many whalemen died from violent encounters with whales and from terrible miscalculations about the unforgiving nature of nature itself. And through it all, whalemen, those 'iron men in wooden boats' created a legacy of dramatic, poignant, and at times horrific stories that can still stir our emotions and animate the most primal part of our imaginations. 'To produce a mighty book, you must choose a mighty theme, ' proclaimed Herman Melville, and the epic story of whaling is one of the mightiest themes in American history.
Eric Jay Dolin
76. David Hume - Treatise on Human Nature; Essays Moral and Political; An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding 77. Jean-Jacques Rousseau - On the Origin of Inequality; On the Political Economy; Emile - or, On Education, The Social Contract 78. Laurence Sterne - Tristram Shandy; A Sentimental Journey through France and Italy 79. Adam Smith - The Theory of Moral Sentiments; The Wealth of Nations 80. Immanuel Kant - Critique of Pure Reason; Fundamental Principles of the Metaphysics of Morals; Critique of Practical Reason; The Science of Right; Critique of Judgment; Perpetual Peace 81. Edward Gibbon - The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire; Autobiography 82. James Boswell - Journal; Life of Samuel Johnson, Ll.D. 83. Antoine Laurent Lavoisier - Traite e‰lementaire de Chimie (Elements of Chemistry) 84. Alexander Hamilton, John Jay, and James Madison - Federalist Papers 85. Jeremy Bentham - Introduction to the Principles of Morals and Legislation; Theory of Fictions 86. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe - Faust; Poetry and Truth 87. Jean Baptiste Joseph Fourier - Analytical Theory of Heat 88. Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel - Phenomenology of Spirit; Philosophy of Right; Lectures on the Philosophy of History 89. William Wordsworth - Poems 90. Samuel Taylor Coleridge - Poems; Biographia Literaria 91. Jane Austen - Pride and Prejudice; Emma 92. Carl von Clausewitz - On War 93. Stendhal - The Red and the Black; The Charterhouse of Parma; On Love 94. Lord Byron - Don Juan 95. Arthur Schopenhauer - Studies in Pessimism 96. Michael Faraday - Chemical History of a Candle; Experimental Researches in Electricity 97. Charles Lyell - Principles of Geology 98. Auguste Comte - The Positive Philosophy 99. Honore de Balzac - Pe¨re Goriot; Eugenie Grandet 100. Ralph Waldo Emerson - Representative Men; Essays; Journal 101. Nathaniel Hawthorne - The Scarlet Letter 102. Alexis de Tocqueville - Democracy in America 103. John Stuart Mill - A System of Logic; On Liberty; Representative Government; Utilitarianism; The Subjection of Women; Autobiography 104. Charles Darwin - The Origin of Species; The Descent of Man; Autobiography 105. Charles Dickens - Pickwick Papers; David Copperfield; Hard Times 106. Claude Bernard - Introduction to the Study of Experimental Medicine 107. Henry David Thoreau - Civil Disobedience; Walden 108. Karl Marx - Capital; Communist Manifesto 109. George Eliot - Adam Bede; Middlemarch 110. Herman Melville - Moby-Dick; Billy Budd 111. Fyodor Dostoevsky - Crime and Punishment; The Idiot; The Brothers Karamazov 112. Gustave Flaubert - Madame Bovary; Three Stories 113. Henrik Ibsen - Plays 114. Leo Tolstoy - War and Peace; Anna Karenina; What is Art?; Twenty-Three Tales 115. Mark Twain - The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn; The Mysterious Stranger 116. William James - The Principles of Psychology; The Varieties of Religious Experience; Pragmatism; Essays in Radical Empiricism 117. Henry James - The American; The Ambassadors 118. Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche - Thus Spoke Zarathustra; Beyond Good and Evil; The Genealogy of Morals;The Will to Power 119. Jules Henri Poincare - Science and Hypothesis; Science and Method 120. Sigmund Freud - The Interpretation of Dreams; Introductory Lectures on Psychoanalysis; Civilization and Its Discontents; New Introductory Lectures on Psychoanalysis 121. George Bernard Shaw - Plays and Prefaces
Mortimer J. Adler