Archives & Special Collections Gallery Exhibit




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Creation Date

Fall 2014


Artifact Label:

Richard Henry Dana (1815-1882) Two Years Before the Mast: A Personal Narrative of Life at Sea New-York: Harper & Brothers, 82 Cliff-Street, 1840

In a May 1850 letter to Richard Henry Dana, Melville colorfully described the uniqueness and complexity of Moby-Dick: “It will be a strange sort of book, tho’, I fear; blubber is blubber you know; tho’ you may get oil out of it, the poetry runs hard as sap from a frozen maple tree;—& to cook the thing up, one must needs throw in a little fancy, which from the nature of the thing, must be ungainly as the gambols of the whales themselves.”

The purchase of this book was made possible through the generosity of the Julia Stearns Dockweiler Foundation