If Dickens was nineteenth-century London personified, Herman Melville was the quintessential American. With a historian's perspective and a critic's insight, award-winning author Andrew Delbanco marvelously demonstrates thatMelville was very much a man of his era and that he recorded -- in his books, letters, and marginalia; and in conversations with friends like Nathaniel Hawthorne and with his literary cronies in Manhattan -- an incomparable chapter of American history. From the bawdy storytelling of "Typee" to the spiritual preoccupations building up to and beyond" Moby Dick," Delbanco brilliantly illuminates Melville's life and work, and his crucial role as a man of American letters.
About the Author
Andrew Delbanco is the Mendelson Family Chair of American Studies and Julian Clarence Levi Professor in the Humanities at Columbia University.
“Masterful. . . Delbanco is a fine historian as well as a fine critic”–The New Republic
“An eclectic, humane, historically grounded tribute to Melville’s best achievements and a moving account of the troubles that closed in on him. . . . Among recent lives of Melville, this one has no peer for grace of style, vividness of historical evocation, and sympathy for a subject whose flaws and prejudices are nevertheless kept in view.”
–The New York Review of Books
"In Andrew Delbanco, Melville has found the perfect combination of biographer and critic [skilled] at re-creating the circumstances — the historical moment, the physical setting, the emotional state, the spiritual frenzy, that attended Melville's art.” –The Wall Street Journal
"Andrew Delbanco places the enigmatic Herman Melville in a light that is remarkably sustained and often brilliant. His acute sense of the man, his wide-angled literary insight, and the range and strength of his grasp of Melville's world enable Delbanco to deliver full-scale the strangest of our literary giants. He also has placed himself in the company of Edmund Wilson, Alfred Kazin and Richard Chase as a trustee of our literature who writes as well as he reads." -Ted Solotaroff“
Delbanco’s Melville is a reward, a brilliant and nourishing narrative that reaches beyond literary biography to an exuberant cultural history. His voice is strong–at times personal in his fresh reading of Melville’s life and work.” –Maureen Howard