portrait of Herman Melville
Painting by Joseph O. Eaton (ca. 1870)

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Quotes of the Day for 1 August 2003 – Herman Melville

Herman Melville was born at New York City on this day in 1819, to a once-prominent family living precariously but with a pretense of gentility. He taught school, clerked in a bank, and spent some time at see, including being captured by a Polynesian tribe and held for several months - an adventure that became his first literary success (Typee: A Peep at Polynesian Life). His masterpiece, Moby Dick, was released in 1851 but met with little success. He wrote two more novels before abandoning novels. He supported his family with magazine articles, wrote verse dealing with the Civil War, and spent the rest of his life as a customs clerk. When he died, there was hardly any notice and only one newspaper carried his obituary. His real success started thirty years later.

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You will find an expanded profile, photo, additional biographical links, and all quotes from this author on the author's Notable Quotable page.

The quotes:

It is better to fail in originality than to succeed in imitation.

We Americans are the peculiar, chosen people - the Israel of our time; we bear the ark of the liberties of the world.

He who has never failed somewhere ... that man can not be great.

There are certain queer times and occasions in this strange mixed affair we call life when a man takes the whole universe for a vast practical joke.

We cannot live only for ourselves. A thousand fibers connect us with our fellow men; and among those fibers, as sympathetic threads, our actions run as causes, and they come back to us as effects.

If you can get nothing better out of the world, get a good dinner out of it, at least.
     - All from Herman Melville, 1819 - 1891

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