What does a present-day Southern writer make of Melville? Strangely enough, what first comes to mind is not the greatness of Moby-Dick or the strange, flawed originality of Billy Budd, but rather a certain chagrin and a sort of melancholy wonder.

What did it feel like, one wonders, to have written Moby-Dick, an experience which Melville called being broiled in hellfire, and which was surely a triumphant taking-on of hell and coming through? It was surely akin to the sense of triumph Dante felt emerging from his own inferno. But to write Moby-Dick, publish it, sell a few hundred copies, see it drop dead and go out of print, disappear apparently forever, and then to spend the last twenty years of one’s life as a customs inspector on the New York docks, so obscure and forgotten that a British critic visiting America couldn’t even find you—what did it feel like? And then at the...

 

A Message from the Editors

As a reader of our efforts, you have stood with us on the front lines in the battle for culture. Learn how your support contributes to our continued defense of truth.

Popular Right Now