A curious advertisement

The Whale, as the novel was first called, was published as a classic three-decker in London on October 18, 1851, the American edition a month later on the fourteenth. As there was no international copyright agreement, Herman Melville indulged in a complicated jig of shifts and dodges to prevent piracy—British and American copyrights had to be obtained separately. One of the dodges was to bring the British edition out first but follow so rapidly with the American that the latter was published before it could be hijacked by pirate-printers. The book was therefore first typeset in America (and possibly “plated,” that is, made into stereotype plates)—indeed, Melville paid for the setting, as he hadn’t yet...


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