Biography of Herman Melville (1819-1891)

Herman Melville.

American storyteller, born in New York on August 1, 1819 and died in his hometown on September 28, 1891. While not they enjoyed at the time of such global recognition which was granted from 1920, his works, characterized by inquiry on human psychology and metaphysical scope of its contents, decisively influenced the evolution of the universal narrative of the 20th century.

Born in the midst of a coming family unless, at the age of seventeen he abandoned his studies to enlist as a waiter's cabin in a boat that was covering the route between New York and Liverpool, trip aroused at him that maritime passion that would later be reflected in many of his works. He walked a time by England, and on his return to the United States, settled in Boston to devote himself to teaching. But the call of the sea again runup is him mightily in 1841, year where he decided to leave his profession to embark aboard a whaling ship (the Acushnet) heading towards the South seas.

After eighteen months of journey, he abandoned the Acushnet in the Marquesas Islands, where he spent a month surrounded by Cannibals, constantly threatened by fierce hostility. At the end of that period, managed to escape aboard an Austrian merchant that led him to Papeete (Tahiti), where his constant prowl eventually lead him to prison. Released, Herman Melville decided to become sedentary and settle on the island to cultivate the land; but, once again, the adventure Marine was stronger than their attempts to settle. He then sailed to Honolulu, Hawaii, where he remained for some time without engage in any work, until, in 1843, he embarked on a frigate in the U.S. Navy who returned to their homeland.

Installed, again, in his native country, Melville decided to use your adventurous experiences as novels that had decided to write. Thus, he began to participate actively in the literary circles of New York and Boston, and in 1846, gave to the press his first novel, Typee, work to followed her Mardi (1849), all of them are set in the South seas and Omoo (1847). This three novels, published in the middle of a huge popularity, Melville turned into one of the favorite authors of American readers.

In 1849 he gave to the printing house Redburn, a novel based on his first sea crossing, and a year later returned to the shelves of the libraries with the white Warrior, where had their military experiences. Both works were received by critics and readers with the same praise had earmarked for his first three deliveries narrative, with what the New York writer became one of the great literary figures of his country.

Decided, then, to remain permanently in the United States (but not forget why the travel, since in 1849 he had returned to visit London), Herman Melville was established on a farm near Pittsfield (Massachusetts), where he met the famous novelist Nathaniel Hawthorne, with whom he had a close relationship of friendship for the rest of his life. In addition, the literary work of Hawthorne significantly influenced the creation of Melville, who dedicated to him the novel, many years later, would reach universal Fame: Moby Dick.

Indeed, in 1851 Melville gave to the press in London this famous tale of the tribulations of Captain Ahab, the pattern of the Whaler Pequod, obsessed with the capture of a white whale that had ripped out both legs to the knee-height. A blind desire for vengeance encouraged, since then, all the efforts of Captain Ahab, who thus becomes a literary symbol of the evil forces governed by premeditation and obstinacy. Indeed, the Pequod crosses the seas with the sole aim of finding and hunt down Moby Dick, the great white whale, her course steered by the thirst for revenge of Ahab and absurd, obsessive, brings unhappiness and misfortune to all the members of his crew, many of whom are drawn into a stupid death. Moreover, fierce whale represents an allegory of the forces of evil embodied in mysteries and unfathomable depths, abstract evil that attacks and destroys what is within your reach, and whose raison d ' être escapes to the attempts of explanation that human beings can be found.

Despite the fame that would enjoy Moby Dick or the Whale in the 20th century, the truth was that, in his time, constituted the first large commercial failure of Herman Melville. The following year of its appearance, the New York Narrator published another novel titled Pierre or the ambiguities (1852), work on which is served as a complex allegorical inquiries into the nature of evil from a metaphysical perspective. But this philosophical depth was not liked by critics and contemporary readers of Melville, and the novel became the second failure - this, if anything, even more resounding - writer already questioned. The bad luck continued with his next novel, Israel Potter (1855), a narrative of love theme, which was unanimously rejected by the mid-19th century American public.

However, Herman Melville not discouraged by these failures, and he continued to write some works which, at the end of the year, have become outstanding pieces of world literature. Such is the case with the volume of short stories entitled The Piazza Tales (Cuentos de piazza, 1856), where have place some masterpieces of the genre cuentistico, as "Bartleby the Scrivener" and, above all, the famous story titled "Benito Cereno", in which Melville explored the unfortunate matter of slavery and exposed it as a clear sign of the American national spirit. In addition, in this collection of short stories are also collected "Las Encantadas", ten splendid fragmentary descriptions of the Ecuadorian archipelago of the Galapagos Islands.

A year later, Herman Melville tried to return to the novel with the scammer (1857), composition that did not conclude. Published subsequently, this unfinished novel shows the attempt of the writer to reflect the selfishness and materialism emerging in his time and its geographical environment, through a satire set in a steamer that crosses the Mississippi. But already at that then despair had seized Melville, who was increasingly abandoned by critics and readers, and paragraph of these literary circles in which both had ruled his name early in his career. To make matters worse, his influential friend Nathaniel Hawthorne, after a long journey through Europe, retired in 1860 to the Californian City of Concord, which Melville insulation was already unbearable.

Thus the things, forgotten by those same readers who both had applauded him, between 1866 and 1885 was forced to move to New York, to earn a living working as a customs inspector. It denied, then, of the narrative genre, and was devoted to the cultivation of poetry, dedication of garnered you some splendid fruits (though also dismissed by his contemporaries). Between this poetic production, is obligated to highlight books entitled Aspects of the War (aspects of the war, 1886), Clarel (1976), John Marr and Other Sailors (1888) and Timoleon (1891). In general, the parts that compose the poetic corpus of Herman Melville can fit within four major thematic blocks: his own religious search, the description of their latest travel experiences (mainly through Italy and Greece), memories of the American civil war and philosophical inquiry. It was precisely the rediscovery of this lyric facet of Melville, in the third decade of the 20th century, contributing to the world of the whole of his literary appreciation.

But its Narrator status were not allowed to abandon completely the writing in prose. And so, in 1891, overwhelmed by old age, disease, and the numerous debts that had shrunk from its fall from grace ended his extraordinary novel Billy Budd, sailor (1924), which recounted the story of a young grumete who, in the allegorical pen of Melville, became a universal symbol of innocence. The obsession of the old writer by the absolute power of the forces of evil are here embodied in the figure of a wicked official devoted body and soul to embitter the life of the young protagonist. Shortly after completing this splendid novel (which in the twentieth century has given rise to a theatrical version, a film adaptation and an opera libretto), Herman Melville died in New York, totally forgotten by readers and intellectuals of his time, and that was a failed writer.