A single novel, an eternal classic, established him as a founding father of American literature. Now, a century after his death, a new popular surge of interest in Herman Melville calls for Elizabeth Hardwick's rich analysis of "the whole of Melville's works, uneven as it is, and the challenging shape of his life . . . a story of the creative history of an extraordinary American genius."
Hardwick's superb critical interpretation and award-winning novelistic flair reveal a former whaleship deckhand whose voyages were the stuff of travel romances that seduced the public. Later, a self-described "thought-diver" into "the truth of the human heart," Melville harbored a bitterness that knew no bounds when that same public failed to embrace his masterwork, Moby-Dick. Invaluable for enthusiasts of American literature, Herman Melville is itself a masterpiece of critical commentary in the tradition of D. H. Lawrence's Studies in Classic American Literature.