Friday, May 26, 2023

New York Dispatch, review of ISRAEL POTTER

This item is not collected in Herman Melville: The Contemporary Reviews, edited by Brian Higgins and Hershel Parker (Cambridge University Press, 1995; and 2009 in paperback). Contemporary Reviews gives two notices from the New York Dispatch, of The Piazza Tales on pages 477-8 and The Confidence-Man on pages 487-8.

New York Dispatch - April 22, 1855
via Genealogy Bank

 New Publications.

"ISRAEL POTTER." -- His fifty years of Exile,
by Herman Melville, Author of "Omoo" and "Typee," &c.
New York: Putnam & Co., 10 Park Place.

This last production from the pen of the author of "Typee," has been published in serial form in "Putnam's Magazine," where its monthly appearance has been looked for anxiously by the readers of that excellent periodical. It is the fanciful autobiography of a revolutionary soldier who spent his life in the unrequited service of his country. The celebrated naval hero, Captain Paul Jones, figures almost as prominently in the novel as does the hero himself--also Benjamin Franklin and others of the men of the Revolution. The tale is well told, the dialogue lively, and the incidents well strung together. In some respects this is the best of Herman Melville's works. It is more artistically finished than his former romances, and does not deal quite so luxuriantly in the marvellous, although the adventures of the Exile are wonderful enough to satisfy the most eager lovers of excitement. But we miss in this work the charming freshness which pervades every chapter of Mr. Melville's tales of the Pacific Ocean. He deals here in stern reality more than poetic beauty. As a tale of the Revolution, however, "Israel Potter" is second only to Cooper's Revolutionary novels, and it far surpasses those which have since flooded the country. Herman Melville knows his ground, and hence a thorough unity pervades the work. All who have read "Fifty years of Exile," as it passed through the pages of Putnam, will be desirous to procure the book complete; and those who have not heretofore read it have a rich treat in store. The book is very neatly got up. 

-- New York Dispatch, April 22, 1855.


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