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Herman Melville A to Z: The Essential Reference to His Life and Work (Facts on File Library of American Literature)

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Book Overview

An encyclopedic guide to the novelist includes entries on Melville's works and characters, influential events and social issues, friends and family, and journeys. This description may be from another edition of this product.

Customer Reviews

4 ratings

Response to C.A. Link?

I just wanted to use this space to ask whether the author(s) ever responded to CA Link's negative review due to his claim of confusion in "Confidence Man" entries.

Melville from A to Z Shines

As I flip through this wonderful piece of scholarship that is "Melville from A to Z," I can't help but wonder the time, talent, and work ethic that went into producing it's contents. The authors are to be commended for making this book helpful to the serious scholar as well as the lay person who is intrigued with Melville's writings. I will most certainly use it in my studies, which is the primary reason why I purchased the book. There are great anecdotes, summaries on each book and poem, and plenty of pictures to give a physical property to Herman Melville, most of whom only know him through his works. There is a comprehensive bibliography, covering a panoply of subjects that will prove useful to one desiring further study. A useful index also accompanies this volume. One of the more stronger qualities of the book is that there exists an unbiased centrism with each item that is described, which makes it ostensibly more authentic. I am sure that others will find the work appealing, helpful, and constructive.

Helpful and much needed Guide to Melville

This book fills a void in Melville Studies. It is a fairly comprehensive reference guide to Melville's works, their plots, characters, publishing history and critical reception. There are also entries on his family, contemporaries, Current Events of his time, and many different pieces of information a reader might need to know. This book is perfect as a Reader's Guide and the price, especially compared to the other "Melville Encyclopedias", namely those by Robert L. Gale (1990) and Kathleen E. Kier (1995), which were over $100.00 each, is excellent. The authors are also able to make use of the recent Melville Biographies by Laurie Robertson-Lorant and the first Volume of the Melville Biography by Hershel Parker (both 1996). To what extent the recent discovery of 500 Melville family letters, which are acknowledged by the authors, were used, or if at all, is not made clear. The organization of the book is well done, beginning with a Chronology. The entries, which follow, are probably out of neccessity quite brief, yet for the most part helpful. I would have preferred if their sources would have been cited, as then the Book would have been of use to Scholars. The plots of the Novels are given, sometimes Chapter by Chapter, but there is little interpretation. I have found so far, several minor errors, which are not too serious, and hope will be corrected in subsequent editions. There follow a Melville Family Tree, a Caterogical Index, a useful but not comprehensive Bibliography and finally a General Index. I think on the whole this book is well done in its scope. It is easily accessible and well priced, but is not useful for Scholarly Research, which is, I gather not its intent. Still, the concept is a good one and I can think of at least twenty Authors for who I would like to see a similar Guide.

Why this book is the "essential reference"

Our book should appeal to both new and seasoned Melville readers. How many of you have read his epic poem CLAREL? It is very long and even scholars have shied away from it. But for all of its flaws it is a magnificent work, and we provide a detailed (canto by canto) summary. We do the same for ALL of Melville's poetry and fiction. As an introduction to his work, or as a guide that can help the reader to review or refresh his or her sense of the range of Melville's work, our book will be--as the publisher promises--the "essential reference book." We also include illustrations from the collections of several museums and the Library of Congress.
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