Thursday, July 26, 2018

Moby-Dick in the London Globe

In early advertisements for The Whale, as the first British edition of Moby-Dick was titled, publisher Richard Bentley quoted several glowing reviews including one from an otherwise unidentified "Evening Paper" calling Melville's new book "the raciest thing of the kind that was ever produced."

Tue, Nov 4, 1851 – 1 · The Morning Chronicle (London, Greater London, England) ·
Hershel Parker cites Bentley's excerpt in volume 2 of Herman Melville: A Biography (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2002), page 101. Recently digitized images now accessible in The British Newspaper Archive show the larger context of the quoted lines, as printed in The Globe and Traveller on Monday evening, October 20, 1851:
All honour and praise to Fenimore Cooper, whose memory will never be suffered to die whilst the English language endures. That great and lamented genius was one of the most forcible delineators of sea-life that ever made old ocean and his familiars his peculiar study. But he has left a worthy successor (we know how much we say when we assert this) in the person of Herman Melville, whose new work, "The Whale," is perhaps the raciest thing of the kind that was ever produced. Melville does not merely skim the surface, he dives into the deep unfathomed main. We smell and taste the brine in every page. His ink must be the black liquor of the cuttle-fish, and his pen drawn from the wing of the albatross. "The Whale" is a very great performance. --The Globe and Traveller (London, England), 20 October 1851 via The British Newspaper Archive.
The London Globe and Traveller was indeed an evening paper, founded as a "trade journal" and "advertising platform" for booksellers according to The British Newspaper Archive. Images from the Globe were not available in the BNA before August 31, 2016.

On Friday, 24 October 1851 the Globe and Traveller speedily excerpted praise for The Whale from the review published just that morning in the London Morning Advertiser.

Herman Melville: The Contemporary Reviews (Cambridge University Press, 1995; paperback 2009) contains no earlier notice of Melville's Whale than the one printed in the London Globe and Traveller on 20 October 1851. (The first notice of Moby-Dick in Contemporary Reviews is from the London Morning Herald, also on 20 October 1851.) Contemporary Reviews (pages 310-311) does have the review of Melville's White-Jacket in the London Globe and Traveller on 4 March 1850.

Tue, Oct 28, 1851 – 1 · The Morning Post (London, Greater London, England) ·
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1 comment:

  1. Patience, patience. In 1969 I paid two people, one of whom was Brian Higgins, to search the British archives (Colindale, then?) for this "Evening Paper." I started wanting it in 1968, so that makes a nice 50 years. Thank you, oh alert and persistent and imaginative Scott Norsworthy. And congratulations!