Herman Melville

Herman Melville
Herman Melville
  • Born: August 1, 1819
  • Died: September 28, 1891
  • Nationality: American
  • Profession: Novelist









Herman Melville was an American novelist, short story writer, and poet of the American Renaissance period. His best known works include Typee (1846), a romantic account of his experiences in Polynesian life, and his whaling novel Moby-Dick (1851). His work was almost forgotten during his last 30 years. His writing draws on his experience at sea as a common sailor, exploration of literature and philosophy, and engagement in the contradictions of American society in a period of rapid change. He developed a complex, baroque style; the vocabulary is rich and original, a strong sense of rhythm infuses the elaborate sentences, the imagery is often mystical or ironic, and the abundance of allusion extends to biblical scripture, myth, philosophy, literature, and the visual arts.

Quotes About
Author Quote
Quote Topics Cited
Ignorance is the parent of fear. Human Nature
Let America add Mexico to Texas, and pile Cuba upon Canada; let the English overswarm all India, and hang out their blazing banner from the sun; two thirds of this terraqueous globe are the Nantucketer's. For the sea is his; he owns it. Expansionism, Colonialism & Imperialism
Nature is nobody's ally. Environment & Environmentalism
Of all the preposterous assumptions of humanity over humanity, nothing exceeds most of the criticisms made on the habits of the poor by the well-housed, well- warmed, and well-fed. Poverty
Ours is a plundering generation. Miscellaneous
There is nothing namable but that some men will undertake to do it for pay. Morality, Ethics & Conflict of Interest
Those whom books will hurt will not be proof against events. Events, not books, should be forbid. Freedom & Liberty
Thus it often is, that the constant friction of illiberal minds wears out at last the best resolves of the more generous.. Liberals & Conservatives
War being the greatest of evils, all its accessories necessarily partake of the same character. Morality, Ethics & Conflict of Interest
We Americans are the peculiar, chosen people—the Israel of our time—we bear the ark of liberties of the world. Freedom & Liberty
Weird John Brown / The meteor of war. Compliments, Insults & Rebukes
Weird John Brown The meteor of the war. War & Peace ;Slaves, Slavery & The Slave Trade
A man thinks that by mouthing hard words he understands hard things.
A smile is the chosen vehicle of all ambiguities.
A whale ship was my Yale College and my Harvard.
Art is the objectification of feeling. Arts, Culture, Entertainment & Lifestyle
At sea a fellow comes out. Salt water is like wine, in that respect. Respect
Better sleep with a sober cannibal than a drunken Christian.
Better to sleep with a sober cannibal than a drunken Christian.
Faith, like a jackal, feeds among the tombs, and even from these dead doubts she gathers her most vital hope. Hope ;Religion & God
Friendship at first sight, like love at first sight, is said to be the only truth. Truth ;Love, Romance, Marriage & Sex ;Friendship
He piled upon the whale's white hump the sum of all the general rage and hate felt by his whole race from Adam down; and then, as if his chest had been a mortar, he burst his hot heart's shell upon it.
He who has never failed somewhere, that man can not be great.
Heaven have mercy on us all - Presbyterians and Pagans alike - for we are all somehow dreadfully cracked about the head, and sadly need mending.
Hope is the struggle of the soul, breaking loose from what is perishable, and attesting her eternity. Hope
I am, as I am; whether hideous, or handsome, depends upon who is made judge.
In this world, shipmates, sin that pays its way can travel freely, and without passport; whereas Virtue, if a pauper, is stopped at all frontiers. Travel
Is there some principal of nature which states that we never know the quality of what we have until it is gone? Nature
It is better to fail in originality than to succeed in imitation.
It is impossible to talk or to write without apparently throwing oneself helplessly open.
It is not down in any map; true places never are.
Know, thou, that the lines that live are turned out of a furrowed brow.
Let America first praise mediocrity even, in her children, before she praises... the best excellence in the children of any other land.
Let us speak, though we show all our faults and weaknesses, - for it is a sign of strength to be weak, to know it, and out with it - not in a set way and ostentatiously, though, but incidentally and without premeditation.
Old age is always wakeful; as if, the longer linked with life, the less man has to do with aught that looks like death. Life ;Death
Some dying men are the most tyrannical; and certainly, since they will shortly trouble us so little for evermore, the poor fellows ought to be indulged.
The march of conquest through wild provinces, may be the march of Mind; but not the march of Love. Love, Romance, Marriage & Sex
There are certain queer times and occasions in this strange mixed affair we call life when a man takes his whole universe for a vast practical joke. Life
There are hardly five critics in America; and several of them are asleep.
There are some enterprises in which a careful disorderliness is the true method.
There are some persons in this world, who, unable to give better proof of being wise, take a strange delight in showing what they think they have sagaciously read in mankind by uncharitable suspicions of them.
There are times when even the most potent governor must wink at transgression, in order to preserve the laws inviolate for the future. Future
There is a touch of divinity even in brutes, and a special halo about a horse, that should forever exempt him from indignities.
There is all of the difference in the world between paying and being paid.
There is no dignity in wickedness, whether in purple or rags; and hell is a democracy of devils, where all are equals.
There is no quality in this world that is not what it is merely by contrast. Nothing exists in itself.
There is nothing namable but that some men will, or undertake to, do it for pay.
There is one knows not what sweet mystery about this sea, whose gently awful stirrings seem to speak of some hidden soul beneath.
There is something wrong about the man who wants help. There is somewhere a deep defect, a want, in brief, a need, a crying need, somewhere about that man.
There is sorrow in the world, but goodness too; and goodness that is not greenness, either, no more than sorrow is.
They talk of the dignity of work. The dignity is in leisure. Work, Workers & The Labor Force
To be called one thing, is oftentimes to be another.
To be hated cordially, is only a left-handed compliment.
To know how to grow old is the master work of wisdom, and one of the most difficult chapters in the great art of living. Arts, Culture, Entertainment & Lifestyle ;Work, Workers & The Labor Force
To produce a mighty book, you must choose a mighty theme. No great and enduring volume can ever be written on the flea, though many there be that have tried it.
To the last, I grapple with thee; From Hell's heart, I stab at thee; For hate's sake, I spit my last breath at thee.
Toil is man's allotment; toil of brain, or toil of hands, or a grief that's more than either, the grief and sin of idleness.
Truth is in things, and not in words. Truth
Truth is the silliest thing under the sun. Try to get a living by the Truth and go to the Soup Societies. Heavens! Let any clergyman try to preach the Truth from its very stronghold, the pulpit, and they would ride him out of his church on his own pulpit bannister. Truth
Truth uncompromisingly told will always have its ragged edges. Truth
We cannot live only for ourselves. A thousand fibers connect us with our fellow men.
Whatever fortune brings, don't be afraid of doing things.
Where do murderers go, man! Who's to doom, when the judge himself is dragged to the bar?
Yet habit - strange thing! what cannot habit accomplish?