Thursday, July 11, 2019

For lovers of the wild and wonderful

Philadelphia Inquirer - November 15, 1851
From the Philadelphia Inquirer of November 15, 1851; found at GenealogyBank with items added "within 1 month":
Mr. W. B. Zieber has just received "Moby-Dick, or the Whale," a novel by Herman Melville, the author of Typee. It occupies a volume of upwards of six hundred pages, and abounds with thrilling incidents, hair-breadth escapes, and remarkable adventures. it is especially suited for the lovers of the wild and wonderful.

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Literature on the Ohio

Manuscripts and Archives Division, The New York Public Library. "“Hawthorne and his mosses”"
The New York Public Library Digital Collections
. 1850.
As reviewed in our last, Herman Melville either initiated or acquiesced to the un-naming of Mr. Cutlets, just a friend in the 1856 book version of Bartleby. Such changes are treated as dubious and occasionally dispensable "instances of toning down" in the 1987 Northwestern-Newberry edition of The Piazza Tales. More examples occur in the extant manuscript of "Hawthorne and His Mosses (copied by Melville's wife Elizabeth). Here is the unfiltered version of Melville's patriotic take-down of bardolatry as fundamentally un-American:
You must believe in Shakespeare or quit the country. But what sort of a belief is this for an American, a man who is bound to carry republican progressiveness into Literature, as well as into Life? Believe me, my friends, that Shakespeares are this day being born on the banks of the Ohio. And the day will come, when you shall say who reads a book by an Englishman?
The Northwestern-Newberry text keeps one instance of toning down in Melville's added qualifier, "that is a modern." Specifying "modern" makes the assertion more reasonable (since well-educated world-citizens must always read Chaucer and Milton, for example) but softens the parody of Sydney Smith's query, "who reads an American book?" The rawest version of the passage would omit three qualifying clauses--all added in revision, all printed in the Literary World on August 17, 1850.
  • "Shakespeare's inapproachability" instead of Shakespeare
  • "men not very much inferior to Shakesepare" instead of Shakespeare
  • "that is a modern" qualifying "Englishman"

Hawthorne and His Mosses
Literary World - August 17, 1850

... men, not very much inferior to Shakespeare, are this day being born on the banks of the Ohio.
Shakespeares are this day being born on the banks of the Ohio.
Cincinnati in 1841 via NYPL Digital Collections
The Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs: Print Collection, The New York Public Library. "Cincinnati in 1841." The New York Public Library Digital Collections. 1841.

Saturday, July 6, 2019

Un-named in revision

 Bartleby, this is a friend....
The 1856 book version of Bartleby makes a nameless "friend" of the "broad meat-like" grub-man, whom Melville originally called "Mr. Cutlets" in the December 1853 issue of Putnam's Monthly Magazine. In the magazine version, the narrator introduced the grub-man by name:
 "Bartleby, this is Mr. Cutlets; you will find him very useful to you."

After revision, Mr. Cutlets is just "a friend."
"Bartleby, this is a friend; you will find him very useful to you." --The Piazza Tales

Also deleted in revision, the invitation to dine privately with both Cutlets, Mr. and Mrs.
"May Mrs. Cutlets and I have the pleasure of your company to dinner, sir, in Mrs. Cutlets' private room?"
The un-naming of Mr. Cutlets and deletion of his dinner invitation have been noted before, of course. Dismissing the Cutlets business as "inappropriate slap-stick," Egbert S. Oliver in the 1948 Hendricks House edition of The Piazza Tales (page 230) gives its judicious "removal" as "one of the principal revisions that Melville made in this story in preparing it for book publication." The Cutlets are back in the text of the 1987 Northwestern-Newberry edition of The Piazza Tales and Other Prose Pieces, 1839-1860. As discussed there in the notes (page 579), the N-N editors reject this and other revisions as suspiciously inartful and un-Melvillean "instances of toning down."

For further study:

Friday, July 5, 2019

Incurably irreligious

Found via EBSCO in the American Antiquarian Society Historical Periodicals Collection, specialized database of Congregational, Presbyterian, and Reformed Church Periodicals, 1803-1902. Transcriptions are mine.

From The Presbyterian, November 29, 1851. Published in Philadelphia by William Stockton Martien.
MOBY-DICK, or the Whale. By Herman Melville, author of "Typee," "Omoo," "White Jacket," &C. New York, 1851, Harper & Brothers. 12mo, pp. 634,

We are sorry to say that Mr. Melville has not improved in the religious features of his works. With a power of description almost unequalled, with a ready inventive faculty not often surpassed, he is incurably irreligious, and even seems to seek occasions to make things sacred the subjects of his irreligious wit. There is very much in this volume which is amusing and instructive, but we are so often repelled by his improper and indelicate allusions, that we can no more commend this book than we could Typee and Omoo.
“MOBY-DICK, or the Whale.” Presbyterian (Philadelphia, PA 1831-1874, 1876), vol. 21, no. 48, Nov. 1851, p. 192. EBSCOhost,
From The Presbyterian, March 24, 1855:
ISRAEL POTTER; his fifty years of Exile. By Herman Melville, author of "Typee," "Omoo," &c. New York, G. P. Putnam & Co. 12mo, pp. 276.
The general irreligious tendency of Melville's writings have been a great off-set in the minds of many to their undoubted merits as works of genius. We observe less of this bad quality in the present, than appeared in some of his former books. The author undertakes, in this volume, to give the history of a rough New England hero, who made his bow to the public about the time of the battles of Bunker Hill and Lexington, was taken prisoner to the old world, and went through a series of most marvellous adventures. Melville's pen does full justice to the fruitful theme. 
“ISRAEL POTTER; His Fifty Years of Exile.” Presbyterian (Philadelphia, PA 1831-1874, 1876), vol. 25, no. 12, Mar. 1855, p. 48. EBSCOhost,
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