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Nathaniel Philbrick

“Historic Nantucket” – The Melville Issue

NHA-HistoricNantucket-MelvilleIssue-250Just this past Spring 2012, the quarterly “Historic Nantucket,” published by the Nantucket Historical Association, presented a “Melville Issue.” It opens with an editorial overview by Nathaniel Philbrick, Historian and NHA Research Fellow, and features articles by two well-known Melvilleans — Mary K. Bercaw Edwards, University of Connecticut Maritime Studies Professor, and Hershel Parker, author of the definitive, two-volume Melville biography.

In “The Unemployable Herman Melville: ‘Nothing else to do’ but Sign on a Whaleship,” Hershel Parker offers up a detailed biographical narrative analysis of the years surrounding Melville’s decision on 3 January 1841 – at the young age of 21 – to sign on to the Acushnet. Mary K. Edwards provides a historical discussion of the publishing history of Moby-Dick that focuses on selected important editions – especially those featuring illustrations, including the famous 1930 Lakeside Press, Rockwell Kent edition. Both essays are richly illustrated with reproductions of contemporary portraits, contemporary art works, pages from selected illustrated editions of Moby-Dick, and a manuscript page of a 6 October 1840 letter written by Gansevoort Melville, Herman’s brother.

Inserted into Bercaw’s essay is a sidebar by Julie H. B. Stackpole, “A Special Container for the Lakeside Press Moby-Dick” – an account of Rockwell Kent’s involvement in the Lakeside Edition concluding with a description of the “slipcase” she created for the three-volume Lakeside edition she inherited from her patenal grandfather.

To visit the Nantucket Historical Association’s website, click here.

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