Monday, January 16, 2017

Moby-Dick in the Western Literary Messenger

This excerpt from chapter 81 of Moby-Dick appeared in the Western Literary Messenger for January 1852 under the heading "Death Scene of the Whale." Edited by Jesse Clement, the Western Literary Messenger was published in Buffalo, New York from August 1841 through April 1857.

The next month, in February 1852, Jesse Clement's Western Literary Messenger reprinted all of chapter 85 under the heading, "The Whale's Fountain":

In August 1854 the Western Literary Messenger reprinted Melville's story "Poor Man's Pudding and Rich  Man's Crumbs" from Harper's magazine. Excerpts from "Israel Potter" in Putnam's Monthly appeared in the September 1855 number of the Western Literary Messenger under the heading Ethan Allen's Captivity.  The 1854 and 1855 excerpts are noted by Merton M. Sealts in Pursuing Melville, 1940-1980 and the Northwestern-Newberry edition of Melville's Piazza Tales.

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  1. The two paragraphs beginning "As the three boats lay there" are two of the greatest paragraphs in the whole book.

    So what were the logistics of notices like these at that time. Did the editor/reviewer actually read the book and make a selection? Or was the extract just copied from another newspaper (certainly done in some cases)? Or did the publisher send review copies with specific suggested quotations for notice ("your readers might enjoy page 238")? Or perhaps all three in different cases?

  2. You made me re-read those great paragraphs, thanks. I don't know how it was with editors and reviewers, but Jesse Clement's excerpts here are not the usual ones, the most usual one being of/from chapter 61, Stubb Kills a Whale.