Welcome to our blog!

It's better than a bat in the eye with a burnt stick!

This blog makes liberal use of AB's journals, letters, travel notes, and other sources.

And make sure to visit The Arnold Bennett Society for expert information and comment on all aspects of the life and work of AB.

Sunday, 4 August 2013

On Melville

Sunday, August 3rd., Rod Meadow, Trewoofe, Cornwall.

The present vogue of Herman Melville is mainly due to two English novelists, Frank Swinnerton and myself.

Frank Arthur Swinnerton (1884 – 1982) was an English novelist, critic, biographer and essayist. 
He was the author of more than 50 books, and as a publisher's editor helped other writers including Aldous Huxley and Lytton Strachey. His long life and career in publishing made him one of the last links with writers including H. G. Wells, John Galsworthy and Arnold Bennett born in the nineteenth century. See also, 'Russia and revivals' - March 9th., 

We both of us have great opportunities for publicity, and 8 or 10 years ago, in the Reform Club, we decided to convince the world that "Moby Dick" was the greatest of all sea novels. And we did! There is a lot more of Melville that you ought to read if you have not already read it. Some of the "Piazza Tales" are wonderful. And the novel "Pierre", though mad and very strange and over-strained, is really original and remarkable. Some of the still stranger books I have not yet read or tried to read. The trouble is that the esoteric books can only be obtained in the complete edition of the works. Happily I possess a complete edition, bought in 1926. I believe that the original editions of "Typee" and "Omoo" are much better than the current editions, which have been expurgated.

Melville was never completely ignored by intelligent readers during his decades of eclipse. In England, especially, Moby-Dick found numerous readers in the late nineteenth century and first decade of the twentieth century, most notably among the Pre-Raphaelites and such writers as W.H. Hudson, Arnold Bennett and Virginia Woolf. It is safe to say that his general literary stock was far higher among English readers than among Americans during this period. Melville's centenary in 1919 brought numerous literary notices, and a weary and disillusioned post-war world was probably far more ready for his prose. In 1921 Raymond Weaver's biography, Herman Melville, Mariner and Mystic, came out, sparking further interest. The following year the first real bibliography of Melville was issued by the English collector, publisher, editor and bibliographer Michael Sadleir. Sadleir deserves special remembrance by all Melvillians, for he was also the impetus behind the first complete collected edition of Melville's works, issued by Constable between 1922 and 1924. Through his efforts, all of Melville's prose and poetry was brought back into print, Billy Budd and many poems were published for the first time, and Melville was made generally accessible to readers.

No comments:

Post a Comment