“It is better to fail in originality than to succeed in imitation.” - Herman Melville, American Novelist and Poet, Author of “Moby Dick” —
“Call me Ishmael.” — so goes the iconic line that begins Herman Melville’s perennial classic “Moby Dick”, which was first published 268 years ago today, all the way back in 1851. The tale of a sailor’s quest for revenge against the giant sperm whale that chewed off a chunk of his leg, Melville’s novel is one of the foundational texts of the American Renaissance. Though it was considered a commercial failure upon release, selling only three thousand copies during Melville’s life, his work was greatly admired by 20th century authors like William Faulkner and D.H. Lawrence and eventually became a bestselling hit with millions of copies sold in the three centuries since its release. Aside from its historical significance as a prime example of American literature during the Romantic era, “Moby Dick” has become a classroom staple for its clever use of literary devices and narrative styles, making it one of the few indisputable examples of a “Great American Novel”.