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200 × 130 × 14 mm
248 pages
40 illustrations
01 Jul 2017
Critical Lives

Herman Melville Kevin J. Hayes

American novelist and poet Herman Melville is considered by many to be the finest author his nation has produced. Born in New York in 1819, he achieved recognition as a leader of world literature with his daring stylistic innovations, and his masterpiece Moby-Dick continues to capture the attention of readers around the globe. This fast-paced biography surveys Melville’s major works and tells the compelling story of his unpredictable professional and personal life.

Kevin J. Hayes explores the revival of interest in Melville’s work thirty years after his death, coinciding with the aftermath of the First World War and the rise of modernism. He examines the composition and reception of Melville’s works, including his first two books, Typee and Omoo, his more ambitious works, and the short fiction, novels and poetry he wrote during the last forty years of his life.

Incorporating a wealth of new information about Melville’s life and the time in which he lived, Hayes offers an engaging introduction to the life of this celebrated but often misunderstood writer.

‘Expertly and fluidly written by Kevin J. Hayes, Herman Melville succinctly encapsulates the life, works, and personality of a relatively elusive figure. Considering the space allotted to him, Hayes superbly dovetails Melville’s major life events with his fiction and poetry, enriching the biographical narrative with historical contexts, cultural connections, illustrations, critical quotations, and previously unknown materials . . . Hayes’s volume is a focused and well-contextualized portrait of Melville, as well as an ideal entryway to larger biographical studies . . . Even the hardened, seen-it-all Melville scholar is likely to learn something new from Herman Melville.’ — American Literary Scholarship

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Kevin J. Hayes is Emeritus Professor of English at the University of Central Oklahoma, currently living and working in Toledo, Ohio. He is the author of many books including The Road to Monticello: The Life and Mind of Thomas Jefferson (2008), Edgar Allan Poe (Reaktion, 2009), George Washington: A Life in Books (2017) and Herman Melville (Reaktion, 2017).