Herman Melville

STN

sou'wester
Recently found myself surprised by how much he wrote. I've read Bartleby and Moby Dick but does anyone have any comments on his other work? The Confidence Man, Redburn or White-Jacket for example?
 

version

Well-known member
Started Moby-Dick earlier. Was reading some of the introductory stuff in my edition and his biography had him doing all sorts then said "when he was eighteen... ". The amount of stuff he'd done by that point was ridiculous. What a life.
 

woops

is not like other people
Started Moby-Dick earlier. Was reading some of the introductory stuff in my edition and his biography had him doing all sorts then said "when he was eighteen... ". The amount of stuff he'd done by that point was ridiculous. What a life.
still time @version !!!
 

version

Well-known member
He was twice imprisoned for mutiny and twice escaped with someone. Apparently he also ended up marooned on an island of 'cannibals' for a month. I think that stuff happened in his early 20s though.
 

IdleRich

IdleRich
It's like reading On The Road I think - you need to do mutinies and survive cannibal islands before you reach thirty or not all.
 

woops

is not like other people
on the road is one of those books you hate just because of the fans so i'm relieved to hear reading it is crap as well.
 

suspended

Well-known member
Me too, Neal Cassady is such an insufferable dick in that book, you wonder how anyone could have ever put up with him.
They only barely managed. Caroline Cassady's Off The Road is a pretty damning portrait of how many illegitimate children Jack + Neal fathered, how many cars they stole, how many women they lied to. Awful human beings.
 

suspended

Well-known member
Of course they coasted off charisma, cult of personality, etc

Which is why said attributes should be treated as red flags
 

IdleRich

IdleRich
There is a film of On The Road where they do just come across as absolute wankers - I'm not sure it was a deliberate take though, I just think that all but the very blind can't help but see those people that way.
But in lukewarm defence of the book, I do totally agree with whoever said "That's not writing, it's typing" cos it pretty much was that and that's its strength and weakness. Strength in that as a blast of over-excited speed addled typing done in a single session (or whatever) it has a naive power to get that across albeit one over impressed with itself. But yeah that kind of writing will never have depth or nuance. And, as soon as you pause to think, hang on, what about the others involved and who are actually real people, not just background characters in the Dean Moriarty Show - as soon as that occurs to you then it's done.
 

woops

is not like other people
There is a film of On The Road where they do just come across as absolute wankers - I'm not sure it was a deliberate take though, I just think that all but the very blind can't help but see those people that way.
But in lukewarm defence of the book, I do totally agree with whoever said "That's not writing, it's typing" cos it pretty much was that and that's its strength and weakness. Strength in that as a blast of over-excited speed addled typing done in a single session (or whatever) it has a naive power to get that across albeit one over impressed with itself. But yeah that kind of writing will never have depth or nuance. And, as soon as you pause to think, hang on, what about the others involved and who are actually real people, not just background characters in the Dean Moriarty Show - as soon as that occurs to you then it's done.
that's not reviewing, it's dismissing
 

IdleRich

IdleRich
Well - without getting into the romantic thing about artworks that are below the he level at which critical engagement is possible - I think what he said is quite accurate but can be understood in a less negative way than he probably meant it.
 

IdleRich

IdleRich
I think the thing about separating art and artist is important, but when the art boils down to simply selling the artist and his way of life it becomes less so.
 

Benny B

Well-known member
I'm reading @Matthew 's book Retreat atm and there's a lot of these characters in there.
Btw, this is not a criticism of Matt's book which I am thoroughly enjoying precisely because he treats all these dodgy countercultural icons with the respect they genuinely deserve, while not being over-generous to them. Strikes a good balance.
 
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