Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Two Moby-Dick notices in New Orleans Commercial Bulletin

At this time the New Orleans Commercial Bulletin was edited by Yale grad and Mexican War veteran Isaac Gurdon Seymour (1804-1862). First, the known recommendation of Moby-Dick by New York correspondent Hans Yorkel aka Abraham Oakey Hall that appeared in the Commercial Bulletin on November 27, 1851. Hershel Parker discovered Hall's letters to the Commercial Bulletin at Tulane in the late 1980's, as told in Melville Biography: An Inside Narrative (Northwestern University Press, 2012) pages 92 and 419. This first item is transcribed in Herman Melville: The Contemporary Reviews, edited by Brian Higgins and Hershel Parker (Cambridge University Press, 1995; paperback 2009), at pages 387-8.

New Orleans Commercial Bulletin - November 27, 1851
via GenealogyBank
... But HARPERS last week gives us Moby Dick, or the Whale, "Herman Melville's" last nautical romance. It is a book which well sustains his reputation as a tale writer and sketcher, while it enhances in a high degree his fame as an original thinker and illustrater of every day sailor men, and every day sailor scenes. You remember the account recently given by a Captain DEBLERS, of his hunting a white whale, and its sinking the ship, after it had broken all the boats? Very curiously Mr. "Melville's story is upon the vengeance with which a captain pursued a whale, with a similar catastrophe occurring for a finale. But beyond, far beyond the story, Mr. "Melville’s" book is a valuable one for its accounts of the manners, haunts and natural history of Leviathan. He paraphrases JOB, to the affirmative nod of his readers, "Canst thou pull out Leviathan with a book?'" 
HANS YORKEL. --New Orleans Commercial Bulletin, November 27, 1851.
Second, the brief notice of Moby-Dick with other "New Books" published by Harper & Brothers, from the New Orleans Commercial Bulletin of December 8, 1851. This item is not transcribed in Contemporary Reviews or included in the Checklist of Additional Reviews on page 416.
New Orleans Commercial Bulletin - December 8, 1851
via GenealogyBank
Moby Dick, or the Whale, by HERMAN MELVILLE.-- This, we take it from a cursory survey, is an exceedingly exciting and attractive work--being a kind of log of sea yarns and adventures connected with whaling, some of them partaking rather of the marvellous. The book is highly spoken of, and engages very general attention.  
--New Orleans Commercial Bulletin - December 8, 1851
Melville's latest headed the list of new Harper titles for sale by New Orleans bookseller J. B. Steel.

New Orleans Commercial Bulletin - December 8, 1851
via GenealogyBank

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