Sunday, December 18, 2005


Melville's Stablemate

Here's something you don't see every day. It's the closing hours of a first-edition Melville on eBay -- of Redburn, namely, the 1849 novel that preceded Moby-Dick. This copy reveals something interesting in its back page advertisement: namely, that at the same time that Redburn came out, there was another curious title being advertised as a fellow new release from the same publisher.

See if you can pick out the Rather Significant Clue here:

Yep: right as Melville was turning to what to write next, out came The Whale and His Captors by the Reverend Henry Cheever. It's an 1849 whaling adventure that also mixes in heaps of technical detail with maritime religious reflections. Sound familiar? Check it out for yourself -- they have the whole text online of Cheever's book here.

And we do know that Melville read it. How? Because he quotes Cheever in the opening of Moby Dick....

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