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“I try all things, I achieve what I can.” ― Herman Melville, Moby-Dick
Moby Dick by Herman Melville is about one captian's search for the white whale.
For the first time, the authoritative editions of works by American novelists, poets, scholars, and essayists collected in the hardcover volumes of The Library of America are being published singly in a series of handsome paperback books. A distinguished writer has contributed an introduction for each volume, which also includes a chronology of the author's life an essay on the text, and notes.
A Wall Street lawyer specializing in bonds and mortgages hires a respectable young man to copy legal documents by hand. At first, the new scrivener approaches his duties with a calm efficiency. Then comes the day when his response to a new assignment is, “I would prefer not to.” The mysterious phrase soon becomes Bartleby’s reply to everything asked of him, and his surrender to inertia is both maddening and inexorable. Torn between frustration and pity, anger and sorrow, his employer desperately tries to save Bartleby, but the cause is as doomed to disappointment as life itself.
A strange and haunting fable that continues to resonate a century and a half after it was first published, Bartleby, the Scrivener is a masterpiece of American literature.
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At the heart of Moby-Dick is the powerful, unknowable sea—and Captain Ahab, a brooding, one-legged fanatic who has sworn vengeance on the mammoth white whale that crippled him. Narrated by Ishmael, a wayfarer who joins the crew of Ahab’s whaling ship, this is the story of that hair-raising voyage, and of the men who embraced hardship and nameless horrors as they dared to challenge God’s most dreaded creation and death itself for a chance at immortality.
A novel that delves with astonishing vigor into the complex souls of men, Moby-Dick is an impassioned drama of the ultimate human struggle that the Atlantic Monthly called “the greatest of American novels.”
With an Introduction by Elizabeth Renker
and an Afterword by Christopher Buckley
From the Paperback edition.
The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne
Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
The Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane
Billy Budd by Herman Melville
With an Introduction by Sandra Newman
Interspersed with graphic sketches of life aboard a whaling vessel, and a wealth of information on whales and 19th-century whaling, Melville's greatest work presents an imaginative and thrilling picture of life at sea, as well as a portrait of heroic determination. The author's keen powers of observation and firsthand knowledge of shipboard life (he served aboard a whaler himself) were key ingredients in crafting a maritime story that dramatically examines the conflict between man and nature.
"A valuable addition to the literature of the day," said American journalist Horace Greeley on the publication of Moby-Dick in 1851 — a classic piece of understatement about a literary classic now considered by many as "the great American novel." Read and pondered by generations, the novel remains an unsurpassed account of the ultimate human struggle against the indifference of nature and the awful power of fate.
Much of Moby Dick was inspired by the 1821 work Narratives of the Wreck of the Whale-Ship Essex, which in turn inspired the 2015 movie In the Heart of the Sea, directed by Ron Howard and starring Chris Hemsworth.
"Bartleby" (also known as "Bartleby the Scrivener") is an intriguing moral allegory set in the business world of mid-19th-century New York. A strange, enigmatic man employed as a clerk in a legal office, Bartleby forces his employer to come to grips with the most basic questions of human responsibility, and haunts the latter's conscience, even after Bartleby's dismissal.
"Benito Cereno," considered one of Melville's best short stories, deals with a bloody slave revolt on a Spanish vessel. A splendid parable of man's struggle against the forces of evil, the carefully developed and mysteriously guarded plot builds to a dramatic climax while revealing the horror and depravity of which man is capable.
Reprinted here from standard texts in a finely made, yet inexpensive new edition, these stories offer the general reader and students of Melville and American literature sterling examples of a literary giant at his story-telling best.
Along with excerpts from Moby-Dick, this anthology presents the complete text of Melville's classic of travel and adventure literature, Typee: A Peep at Polynesian Life. Additional features include the short stories "Bartleby the Scrivener," "The Paradise of Bachelors and the Tartarus of Maids," and "The Encantadas or Enchanted Isles."
Melville's critical fortunes temporarily rebounded in the early to mid-1850s, with the favorable reception of his contributions to Harper's and Putnam's—two of the era's leading monthly magazines. This collection features fourteen of his works of short fiction from that period—most prominently, "The Encantadas or Enchanted Isles." This series of descriptive sketches, a reminiscence from Melville's sailor days, reveals the ecologically pristine Galápagos Islands as both enchanting and horrifying. The other stories showcase the author's mastery of a diverse range of writing styles. "The Lightning-Rod Man" demonstrates his deftness at Dickensian comedy, and "The Piazza" anticipates his subsequent absorption with poetry. "The Paradise of Bachelors and the Tartarus of Maids," with its incisive contrast of upper-class frivolity with the desperate lives of factory workers, offers a moving portrait of social inequality. These rediscovered tales by a writer who was ahead of his time provide a captivating blend of artistry and cultural commentary.
Here are ten stories that represent some of the best short work of American master Herman Melville, including "Bartleby, the Scrivener: A Story of Wall-Street," "The Happy Failure," and "The Paradise of Bachelors and The Tartarus of Maids."
Alongside THE HAPPY FAILURE, Harper Perennial will publish the short fiction of Fyodor Dostoevsky, Leo Tolstoy, Willa Cather, Stephen Crane, and Oscar Wilde to be packaged in a beautifully designed, boldly colorful boxset in the aim to attract contemporary fans of short fiction to these revered masters of the form. Also, in each of these selections will appear a story from one of the new collections being published in the "Summer of the Short Story." A story from Alex Burrett's forthcoming collection, MY GOAT ATE ITS OWN LEGS, will be printed at the back of this volume.
HarperPerennial Classics brings great works of literature to life in digital format, upholding the highest standards in ebook production and celebrating reading in all its forms. Look for more titles in the HarperPerennial Classics collection to build your digital library.
The Scarlet Letter vividly records America’s moral and historical roots in Puritan New England and masterfully re-creates a society’s preoccupation with sin, guilt, and pride.
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn carries readers along on Huck’s unforgettable journey down the Mississippi in America’s foremost comic epic—the first great novel in a truly American voice.
The Red Badge of Courage re-creates the brutal reality of war and its psychological impact on a young Civil War soldier in one of the most moving and widely read American novels.
Billy Budd, Sailor, and Other Stories joins the world’s great tragic literature as a doomed seaman becomes the innocent victim of a clash between social authority and individual freedom.
From the Paperback edition.