|Photo: New Directions|
Herman Melville could not spell very well, and even in modern Moby-Dick texts the helmet of Mambrino is wrongly lettered; and in the Encantadas, that widowed lament of the soul which has already become a waste island for huge turtles and potherbs, he has failed to meet the dictionary requirements in the way he has shaped the word Gallapagos. The Billy Budd Mss. was a grammar and punctuation bedlam also; but it is easy to find a page-proof reader to mend some of Melville’s syntax, but where is there another man to write Moby-Dick? --Edward Dahlberg, "How Do You Spell Fool?"Dahlberg must have been thinking of Clarel, specifically Clarel 2.20 where Margoth the irreligious geologist speaks of "Malbrino's helmet." These days "Malbrino's" is more often emended to "Mambrino's," thus:
"Mambrino's helmet is sublime--But the 1924 Constable edition (reprinted by Russell & Russell in the 1963 Standard Edition) of Clarel preserves Melville's original 1876 spelling, "Malbrino's."
The barber's basin may be vile:
Whether this basin is that helm
To vast debate has given rise--
Question profound for blinking eyes;
But common sense throughout her realm
Has settled it." --Clarel Part 2 Canto 20
And potherbs looks like a typo for potsherds. Ha! here I am trying to mend questionable mistakes and illustrating Dahlberg's point in the process.
"Edward Dahlberg was a difficult character, a perennial misfit and a touchy misanthrope." --Carl BankstonWhat's not to love?
|Helmet of Mambrino design for cover of Clarence King Memoirs|
h/t : drizzz