There she blows!
February 13, 2006 7:05 PM   Subscribe

Melville's Marginalia Online. The study of Herman Melville's creative process has long been hampered by a lack of primary sources. Melville's long lost annotations (they were written in pencil and subsequently erased) to the 1839 book The Natural History of the Sperm Whale have been restored through high-tech innovations such as squinting and digital photography. The results are available here in a PDF file. [more inside]
posted by marxchivist (22 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

 
Also scheduled for this project are PDF versions of two volumes of Matthew Arnold's poetry that Melville annotated. Next up will be facsimiles of Melville's annotated copies of Aristotle, William Alger, the King James Bible, and works by Emerson and Shakespeare. While you are waiting for those, here is a "fluid text" excerpt from Typee, and an illuminated version of a portion of Moby Dick.

via Ed
posted by marxchivist at 7:06 PM on February 13, 2006


I'm still downloading the PDF, but I'm gonna preemptively declare:

This. Is. Awesome.
posted by brundlefly at 7:18 PM on February 13, 2006


Very cool--go Boise State!
posted by bardic at 7:28 PM on February 13, 2006


Holy fuck. The definitive Moby Dick metafilter post has always been something of a goal of mine. This is awesome.
posted by sohcahtoa at 7:31 PM on February 13, 2006


Your metaphorical albino sperm whale, so to speak?
posted by bardic at 7:35 PM on February 13, 2006


...restored through high-tech innovations such as squinting

How does one go about becoming a professional squinter?
posted by Mijo Bijo at 7:37 PM on February 13, 2006


Ooh. I haven't read Moby Dick yet, but my friend is obsessed and he'll bust a nut when he hears about this. Christmas comes early... er, late for Mike.
posted by BlackLeotardFront at 7:38 PM on February 13, 2006


Also still waiting for the PDF to load, but the illuminated portion of the book is very cool.
posted by amro at 7:43 PM on February 13, 2006


The definitive Moby Dick metafilter post has always been something of a goal of mine.

There is always room for another post about this awesome book. I think it is one of the greatest works of art. Ever. Anywhere.

Penguin Classics published an inexpensive edition of The Loss of the Ship Essex, Sunk by a Whale with Melville's annotations to Owen Chase's version of that event. While looking for links for this, I ran across something else cool: History of the American Whale Fishery From Its Earliest Inception to the Year 1876 by Alexander Starbuck (page loads slow as dirt).
posted by marxchivist at 7:47 PM on February 13, 2006


Marxchivist writes "I think it is one of the greatest works of art. Ever. Anywhere."

Hell yeah. The problem is that it is ineptly taught by so many HS english teachers. I was taught it at a creative arts HS, and it did so much to counteract the boring Moby Dick curriculum of my previous HS.

It is a beautiful, rich and immensely entertaining book, and it is presented to so many students as dull-ass tome that you have to wade through to get an A.
posted by brundlefly at 8:22 PM on February 13, 2006


incredibly cool--Melville's so interesting--thanks, Marx!!!
posted by amberglow at 8:53 PM on February 13, 2006


I was lucky. I had a professor when I was an undergrad who made us read most of Moby Dick in an American Lit survey course. He loved it so much and really lit the book up. I later took his 19th Century American Novel class so I could do it again. That book contains more truths than a set of encyclopedias. One of my favorites from Chapter 5 (take heed those of you who take yourselves too damn seriously):

However, a good laugh is a mighty good thing, and rather too scarce a good thing; the more's the pity. So, if any one man, in his own proper person, afford stuff for a good joke to anybody, let him not be backward, but let him cheerfully allow himself to spend and be spent in that way. And the man that has anything bountifully laughable about him, be sure there is more in that man than you perhaps think for.
posted by marxchivist at 8:53 PM on February 13, 2006


is there anything like this for other authors? (i'd love to see Dickens' and Whitman's, for just 2)
posted by amberglow at 8:57 PM on February 13, 2006


fantastic book, great post. thank you!
posted by jann at 11:13 PM on February 13, 2006


A favorite line from MD:

"the very milk and sperm of kindness"

Yeah, that's a tough chapter to teach, but what an amazing book.
posted by bardic at 11:41 PM on February 13, 2006


I heartily echo (me hearties) the adulation for Moby Dick. I thankfully escaped being taught it in high school (which only narrowly avoided ruining One Flew Over the CooCoo’s Nest for me) and grew up enough to appreciate it’s rich and beautifully dense prose.
My God it’s a gorgeous book. The whale thing is almost incidental really to the magnificence of the craft.

I often wonder if literature will ever have that flavor or that sense of wonder in experiance again.

I wonder if there will ever be works with such an oral style and that density, depth, flow and evocation.

It seems to me the book was written at a time when the novel was coming into it’s own in an age time when oration and language were greatly prized and it was all still new.

Thanks for this post.
posted by Smedleyman at 12:03 AM on February 14, 2006


I get a "Bad Encrypt Dictionary" and no file when I try to download the PDF.
posted by pracowity at 1:32 AM on February 14, 2006


Bardic - yeah, I had that joke in there but took it out. I'm glad to play your straight man, though.
posted by sohcahtoa at 3:41 AM on February 14, 2006


Excellent post thanks Marchivist.
posted by peacay at 4:17 AM on February 14, 2006


I just finished Moby Dick 2 weeks ago, so I can heartily add a "Nice post!" here.

I subsequently read In the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex, which is the account of the "stoving" by an angry whale that apparently inspired Melville. It's a good read for two reasons-- mainly because it's a well-researched and written piece of history, but also because of its exhaustive bibliography and section of notes at the end. I'd say it's an essential for anyone who really wants to dig into the subject of Nantucket whaling in the 19th century.

(I am totally off on a literary tangent)
posted by Devils Rancher at 7:24 AM on February 14, 2006


I can't get the PDF to load, either. "Bad encrypt dictionary." Anyone get it to work?
posted by _sirmissalot_ at 8:59 AM on February 14, 2006


I can't get the PDF to load, either. "Bad encrypt dictionary." Anyone get it to work?

Upgrade your Acrobat Reader to 7.something and it should work.
posted by pracowity at 4:37 AM on February 15, 2006


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