Tuesday, November 14, 2017

November 14th...This Day in History

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Moby-Dick published

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On this day in 1851, Moby-Dick, a novel by Herman Melville about the voyage of the whaling ship Pequod, is published by Harper & Brothers in New York. Moby-Dick is now considered a great classic of American literature and contains one of the most famous opening lines in fiction: “Call me Ishmael.” Initially, though, the book about Captain Ahab and his quest for a giant white whale was a flop.
Herman Melville was born in New York City in 1819 and as a young man spent time in the merchant marines, the U.S. Navy and on a whaling ship in the South Seas. In 1846, he published his first novel, Typee, a romantic adventure based on his experiences in Polynesia. The book was a success and a sequel, Omoo, was published in 1847. Three more novels followed, with mixed critical and commercial results. Melville’s sixth book, Moby-Dick, was first published in October 1851 in London, in three volumes titled The Whale, and then in the U.S. a month later. Melville had promised his publisher an adventure story similar to his popular earlier works, but instead, Moby-Dick was a tragic epic, influenced in part by Melville’s friend and Pittsfield, Massachusetts, neighbor, Nathaniel Hawthorne, whose novels include The Scarlet Letter.
After Moby-Dick‘s disappointing reception, Melville continued to produce novels, short stories (Bartleby) and poetry, but writing wasn’t paying the bills so in 1865 he returned to New York to work as a customs inspector, a job he held for 20 years.
Melville died in 1891, largely forgotten by the literary world. By the 1920s, scholars had rediscovered his work, particularly Moby-Dick, which would eventually become a staple of high school reading lists across the United States. Billy Budd, Melville’s final novel, was published in 1924, 33 years after his death.

 (More Events on This Day in History)

  • American Revolution

  • 1776 Benjamin Franklin takes sides
  • Automotive

  • 2006 Last day for Texas’ celebrated drive-in Pig Stands
  • Civil War

  • 1862 Lincoln approves Burnside’s plan
  • Cold War

  • 1951 United States gives military and economic aid to communist Yugoslavia
  • Crime

  • 1986 Ivan Boesky confesses to illegal stock trading activity
  • Disaster

  • 1985 Volcano erupts in Colombia and buries nearby towns
  • General Interest

  • 1969 Apollo 12 lifts off
  • 1982 Walesa released from jail
  • Hollywood

  • 1941 Cary Grant stars in Hitchcock’s Suspicion
  • Literary

  • 1851 Moby-Dick is published
  • Music

  • 1900 American classical composer Aaron Copland is born in Brooklyn, New York
  • Old West

  • 1882 Franklin Leslie kills Billy “The Kid” Claiborne
  • Presidential

  • 1959 Kennedy publishes article on television and American politics
  • Sports

  • 1970 Plane crash devastates Marshall University
  • Vietnam War

  • 1965 Major battle erupts in the Ia Drang Valley
  • 1967 Marine general killed in Vietnam
  • 1972 Nixon promises Thieu that U.S. will continue to support South Vietnam
  • World War I

  • 1914 Ottoman Empire declares a holy war
  • World War II

  • 1940 Germans bomb Coventry

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