Many happy returns, Mr. Melville. In honor of your birthday, I hereby promise to finish Moby Dick. Eventually.
Melville spoke as part of the Mercantile’s 1858 lecture series. We paid him $50 (expenses NOT included), in exchange for which he gave a two hour talk entitled “Statues of Rome.” While The Enquirer‘s reviewer was definitely not a fan — He described Melville’s writing career as “having proceeded in the form of an inverted climax”, and described his latest at the time, The Confidence-Man as “one of the dullest and most dismally monotonous books” he’d ever read — even he had to admit that Melville’s talk here was the best of the season so far.
For more information about Melville’s talk, see Dale Patrick Brown’s excellent Brilliance & Balderdash.
Happy birthday, big guy.
-Norm De Plume