"THE WHALE," by Herman Melville, just published, is perhaps the most extraordinary work that has appeared in England for a very great many years. The novelty of the materials that constitute the interest—the novelty of the manner of dealing with them—the poetical, combined with the practical nature of the author—the rare power with which he knits us to every character in succession—the wild impetuous grandeur of his scenes—the impulsive force and vigour of his language—these, together, make up one of the most fascinating books that was ever read. Captain Ahab is a character which few men could have conceived, and how few could have drawn with such marvellous earnestness and strength; and his pertinacious pursuit of the great white whale Moby Dick, is executed in the true spirit, and with the full force of great original genius. Melville is a star, and of no ordinary magnitude in the literary firmament. --London Morning Post, 20 October 1851; found at The British Newspaper Archive.Herman Melville: The Contemporary Reviews,edited by Brian Higgins and Hershel Parker (Cambridge University Press, 1995; paperback 2009) page 372 has the later, longer review, published in the London Morning Post on 14 November 1851. Below, a very early notice that appeared in the Morning Post on 16 October 1851:
THE WHALE.— Mr. Herman Melville, whose "Omoo," "Typee," and "White Jacket," will always be remembered as among the most popular of new works, has just completed a narrative, which he calls "The Whale;" in which he details the dangers and adventures which the daring seamen have to encounter who are engaged in the perils of sperm whaling in the Pacific. All who know the power of this most original and graphic author will anticipate a work of rare interest and entertainment. Mr. Bentley will publish this new work immediately.