The World in a Man of War
Herman Melville was an American novelist, short story writer, and poet of the American Renaissance period. Among his bestknown works are MobyDick (1851); Typee (1846), a romanticized account of his experiences in Polynesia; and Billy Budd, Sailor, a posthumously published novella. Although his reputation was not high at the time of his death, the 1919 centennial of his birth was the starting point of a Melville revival, and MobyDick grew to be considered one of the great American novels.
Melville's growing literary ambition showed in MobyDick (1851), which took nearly a year and a half to write, but it did not find an audience, and critics scorned his psychological novel Pierre: or, The Ambiguities (1852). From 1853 to 1856, Melville published short fiction in magazines, including "Benito Cereno" and "Bartleby, the Scrivener". In 1857, he traveled to England, toured the Near East, and published his last work of prose, The ConfidenceMan (1857). He moved to New York in 1863, eventually taking a position as United States customs inspector.
From that point, Melville focused his creative powers on poetry. BattlePieces and Aspects of the War (1866) was his poetic reflection on the moral questions of the American Civil War. In 1867, his eldest child Malcolm died at home from a selfinflicted gunshot. Melville's metaphysical epic Clarel: A Poem and Pilgrimage in the Holy Land was published in 1876. In 1886, his other son Stanwix died of apparent tuberculosis, and Melville retired. During his last years, he privately published two volumes of poetry, and left one volume unpublished. The novella Billy Budd was left unfinished at his death, but was published posthumously in 1924. Melville died from cardiovascular disease in 1891.