Books

The Maldive Shark

Herman Melville

'No voice, no low, no howl is heard; the chief sound of life here is a hiss.'

Stories and poems by Herman Melville drawn from his years at sea

Introducing Little Black Classics: 80 books for Penguin's 80th birthday. Little Black Classics celebrate the huge range and diversity of Penguin Classics, with books from around the world and across many centuries. They take us from a balloon ride over Victorian London to a garden of blossom in Japan, from Tierra del Fuego to 16th century California and the Russian steppe. Here are stories lyrical and savage; poems epic and intimate; essays satirical and inspirational; and ideas that have shaped the lives of millions.

Herman Melville (1819-1891). Melville's works available in Penguin Classics are Moby-Dick, Pierre, The Confidence-Man, Omoo, Redburn, Israel Potter and Billy Budd, Sailor and Other Stories.

The Confidence-Man and Billy Budd, Sailor

Herman Melville

The Penguin English Library Edition of The Confidence - Man and Billy Budd, Sailor by Herman Melville

'Life is a pic-nic en costume; one must take a part, assume a character, stand ready in a sensible way to play the fool'

In The Confidence-Man, Melville's unnerving and hallucinatory satire on the American dream, a slippery trickster and master of disguise comes to swindle his fellow passengers - who themselves may also be con-men - aboard a Mississippi steamboat.

Billy Budd, Sailor, published after Melville's death in 1891, is a gripping allegory of good and evil, as an innocent man, pressed into service on a British man-of-war, is falsely accused of mutiny. Both these late works are animated with the dark genius of the greatest of American writers.

The Penguin English Library - 100 editions of the best fiction in English, from the eighteenth century and the very first novels to the beginning of the First World War.

Moby-Dick

Herman Melville

The Penguin English Library Edition of Moby-Dick by Herman Melville

'The frail gunwales bent in, collapsed, and snapped, as both jaws, like an enormous shears, sliding further aft, bit the craft completely in twain...'

Moby-Dick is one of the most expansive feats of imagination in the whole of literature: the mad, raging, Shakespearean tale of Captain Ahab's insane quest to kill a giant white whale that has taken his leg, and upon which he has sworn vengeance, at any cost. A creation unlike any other, this is an epic story of fatal monomania and the deepest dreams and obsessions of mankind.

The Penguin English Library - 100 editions of the best fiction in English, from the eighteenth century and the very first novels to the beginning of the First World War.

Moby-Dick

Herman Melville

In part, Moby-Dick is the story of an eerily compelling madman pursuing an unholy war against a creature as vast and dangerous and unknowable as the sea itself. But more than just a novel of adventure, more than an encyclopaedia of whaling lore and legend, the book can be seen as part of its author's lifelong meditation on America. Written with wonderfully redemptive humour, Moby-Dick is also a profound enquiry into character, faith and the nature of perception.

Moby-Dick

Herman Melville

INCLUDES THE TRUE STORY THAT INSPIRED MOBY-DICK

When Ishmael sets sail on the whaling ship Pequod one cold Christmas Day, he has no idea of the horrors awaiting him out on the vast and merciless ocean. The ship's strange captain, Ahab, is in the grip of an obsession to hunt down the famous white whale, Moby Dick, and will stop at nothing on his quest to annihilate his nemesis.

Moby-Dick

Herman Melville (and others)

The original 'Great American Novel', Herman Melville's Moby-Dick is a masterful study of obsession. This Penguin Classics edition contains an introduction by Andrew Delblanco, with explanatory commentary by Tom Quirk.
'Call me Ishmael.'
So begins Herman Melville's masterpiece, one of the greatest works of imagination in literary history. As Ishmael is drawn into Captain Ahab's obsessive quest to slay the white whale Moby-Dick, he finds himself engaged in a metaphysical struggle between good and evil. More than just a novel of adventure, more than an paean to whaling lore and legend, Moby-Dick is a haunting social commentary, populated by some of the most enduring characters in literature; the crew of the Pequod, from stern, Quaker First Mate Starbuck, to the tattooed Polynesian harpooner Queequeg, are a vision of the world in microcosm, the pinnacle of Melville's lifelong meditation on America. Written with wonderfully redemptive humour, Moby-Dick is a profound, poetic inquiry into character, faith, and the nature of perception.
Based on the Northwestern University Press edition, this Penguin Classics edition includes a critical introduction by Andrew Delbanco, as well as valuable explanatory notes, maps, illustrations and a glossary of nautical terms.

Herman Melville is now regarded as one of America's greatest novelists. Much of the material for his novels was drawn from his own experience as a seaman aboard whaling ships. He wrote his masterpiece Moby-Dick in 1851, and died in 1891.

If you enjoyed Moby-Dick, you may like Miguel de Cervantes' Don Quixote, also available in Penguin Classics.

'After reading Moby-Dick, you will have enhanced your sense of wonder, you will have increased the size of your universe'
E. M. Forster

'One of the strangest and most wonderful books in the world ... It moves awe in the soul'
D. H. Lawrence

Complete Shorter Fiction

Herman Melville (and others)

PUBLISHED TO COINCIDE WITH THE BECENTENARY OF HORACE WALPOLE'S DEATH Horace Walpole was letter writer so energetic and fertile that his collected correspondence occupies forty volumes. Yet his energy and fertility were matched by such perceptiveness and wit, and his thoughts are expressed in such a delightful style, that the results are always entertaining, often brilliant and invariably gripping. As the prime minister's son and an habitue of the highest social and political circles, Walpole was well-placed to gather all the gossip of his day, great or small, and to form opinions on the great. As a celebrated novelist, amateur architect and man of taste, he also had an unrivalled eye for the customs and changing fashions of the time. His letter provide one of the most vivid pictures we have of the late eighteenth-century Britain. This collection contains 434 letters, arranged under sixteen headings for ease of reference: Boyhood and th Grand Tour; Politics; The Court: The Man about Town; Virtuoso and Antiquarian; Strawberry Hill his Literary Works; his Literary Criticism; his Family; Friends and Correspondents; Later Years; His Character; Current Historical Events; France and the French Revolution; Social Hisory.

The Confidence-man

Herman Melville (and others)

Onboard the Fidèle, a steamboat floating down the Mississippi to New Orleans, a confidence man sets out to defraud his fellow passengers. In quick succession he assumes numerous guises - from a legless beggar and a worldly businessman to a collector for charitable causes and a 'cosmopolitan' gentleman, who simply swindles a barber out of the price of a shave. Making very little from his hoaxes, the pleasure of trickery seems an end in itself for this slippery conman. Is he the Devil? Is his chicanery merely intended to expose the mercenary concerns of those around him? Set on April Fool's Day, The Confidence-Man (1857) is an engaging comedy of masquerades, digressions and shifting identity, and a devastating satire on the American dream.

Redburn

Herman Melville (and others)

Wellington Redburn is a fifteen-year-old from the state of New York, with only one dream - to run away to sea. However, when he does fulfil this long-held fantasy, he quickly finds that reality as a cabin boy is far harsher than he ever imagined. Mocked by the crew on board the Highlander for his weakness and bullied by the vicious and merciless sailor Jackson, Wellington must struggle to endure the long journey from New York to Liverpool. But when he does reach England, he is equally horrified by what he finds there: poverty, desperation and moral corruption. Inspired by Melville's own youthful experiences on board a cargo boat, this is a compelling tale of innocence transformed, through bitter experience, into disillusionment. A fascinating sea journal and coming-of-age tale, Redburn provides a unique insight into the mind of one of America's greatest novelists.

Biography

Herman Melville (1819-91) became in his late twenties a highly successful author of exotic novels based on his experiences as a sailor - writing in quick succession Typee, Omoo, Redburn and White-Jacket. However, his masterpiece Moby-Dick was met with incomprehension and the other later works which are now the basis of his reputation, such as Bartleby, the Scrivener and The Confidence-Man, were failures. Melville stopped writing fiction and the rest of his long life was spent first as a lecturer and then, for nineteen years, as a customs official in New York City. He was also the author of the immensely long poem Clarel, which was similarly dismissed. At the end of his life he wrote Billy Budd, Sailor which was published posthumously in 1924.