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Herman Melville: Anti-Transcendentalism and Symbolism Essay

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Throughout American history, few authors have earned the right to be called great. Herman Melville is one of these few. However, Melville’s journey towards becoming one of the greatest early American authors was less than simple. As an author writing during the heart of the American Renaissance and Transcendentalist Era, a time where people believed humans were at one with nature and God, Melville chose to break the mold. Facing many hardships in his life, Herman Melville became an author renowned for his anti-transcendentalist style, yet was perhaps the most underrated author of his time.
On August 1, 1819, Herman Melville was born into a family of war heroes and wealthy merchants. His father, Allan Melville, was a Boston merchant wealthy enough to provide a comfortable life for his family. Unfortunately, tragedy struck when Allan Melville went bankrupt in 1830, leaving him to abandon the city and the Melville family. Herman Melville, now poor and father less, was left to the care of his strict mother, Maria Gansevoort. Having no formal education, Melville taught himself using literature and the bible. (Anderson. “Herman” 294). Moving from home to home, Melville now found life to be a struggle. Through this struggle, however, a fascination for the sea developed in him.
Melville’s enchantment for the sea inspired him to begin the daring challenge of being a sailor. Departing on his first voyage with the St. Lawrence, Melville was prepared for his dreams of the sea to become a reality. Instead, he was met with bad weather and an unorganized crew (“Herman” 590). As the St. Lawrence continued to sail away, so did Melville’s captivation of the sea. Despite this harsh first experience, Melville decided to try sailing again. On Jan...


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...York: Bantam Books, 1967. Print.
The Athenaeum. From Melville, Herman. Moby-Dick. 614-616. New York: Bantam Books, 1967. Print.
Duyckinck, Evert. “Melville’s Moby-Dick; or the Whale.” from The Literary World In Melville, Herman. Moby-Dick. 607-613. New York: Bantam Books, 1967. Print.
“Herman Melville: Biographical Note.” In Melville, Herman. Moby-Dick. 590-596. New York: Bantam Books, 1967. Print.
Melville, Herman. Billy Budd & Typee. New York: Washington Square Press Inc., 1962. Print.
Melville, Herman. “Letter to Hawthorne.” 1851. In Anderson, Robert et al. Elements of Literature. Austin: Holt, Rinehart, and Winston, Inc., 1989. 317. Print.
Melville, Herman. Moby-Dick. New York: Bantam Books, 1967. Print.
Melville, Herman. America. The Literature Network. n.d. Web. 06 Dec. 2011.
Melville, Herman. Shiloh. The Literature Network. n.d. Web. 06 Dec. 2011.



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