Herman Melville citations

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Herman Melville

Date de naissance: 1. août 1819
Date de décès: 28. septembre 1891

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Herman Melville, né le 1er août 1819 à Pearl Street, au sud-est de Manhattan , mort le 28 septembre 1891 à New York, est un romancier, essayiste et poète américain.

Presque oublié à sa mort, Melville est redécouvert dans les années 1920 à travers son œuvre maîtresse Moby Dick. Il est désormais considéré comme l'une des plus grandes figures de la littérature américaine.

Citations Herman Melville

„eternal blue noon;“

— Herman Melville
Moby Dick: or, the White Whale

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

— Herman Melville
Context: It is better to fail in originality, than to succeed in imitation. He who has never failed somewhere, that man can not be great. Failure is the true test of greatness. Context: It is better to fail in originality, than to succeed in imitation. He who has never failed somewhere, that man can not be great. Failure is the true test of greatness. And if it be said, that continual success is a proof that a man wisely knows his powers, — it is only to be added, that, in that case, he knows them to be small. Let us believe it, then, once for all, that there is no hope for us in these smooth pleasing writers that know their powers.

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„A smile is the chosen vehicle of all ambiguities.“

— Herman Melville, Pierre: or, the Ambiguities
Bk. IV, ch. 5

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

— Herman Melville
Though this statement and a few other variants of it have been widely attributed to Herman Melville, it is actually a paraphrase of one found in a sermon of Henry Melvill, "Partaking in Other Men's Sins", St. Margaret's Church, Lothbury, England (12 June 1855), printed in Golden Lectures (1855) :

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„I'm not talking of Mr Emerson now — but of the whole corps of thought-divers, that have been diving & coming up again with bloodshot eyes since the world began.“

— Herman Melville
Context: I do not oscillate in Emerson's rainbow, but prefer rather to hang myself in mine own halter than swing in any other man's swing. Yet I think Emerson is more than a brilliant fellow. Be his stuff begged, borrowed, or stolen, or of his own domestic manufacture he is an uncommon man. Swear he is a humbug — then is he no common humbug. Lay it down that had not Sir Thomas Browne lived, Emerson would not have mystified — I will answer, that had not Old Zack's father begot him, old Zack would never have been the hero of Palo Alto. The truth is that we are all sons, grandsons, or nephews or great-nephews of those who go before us. No one is his own sire. — I was very agreeably disappointed in Mr Emerson. I had heard of him as full of transcendentalisms, myths & oracular gibberish; I had only glanced at a book of his once in Putnam's store — that was all I knew of him, till I heard him lecture. — To my surprise, I found him quite intelligible, tho' to say truth, they told me that that night he was unusually plain. — Now, there is a something about every man elevated above mediocrity, which is, for the most part, instinctuly perceptible. This I see in Mr Emerson. And, frankly, for the sake of the argument, let us call him a fool; — then had I rather be a fool than a wise man. —I love all men who dive. Any fish can swim near the surface, but it takes a great whale to go down stairs five miles or more; & if he don't attain the bottom, why, all the lead in Galena can't fashion the plumet that will. I'm not talking of Mr Emerson now — but of the whole corps of thought-divers, that have been diving & coming up again with bloodshot eyes since the world began. I could readily see in Emerson, notwithstanding his merit, a gaping flaw. It was, the insinuation, that had he lived in those days when the world was made, he might have offered some valuable suggestions. These men are all cracked right across the brow. And never will the pullers-down be able to cope with the builders-up. And this pulling down is easy enough — a keg of powder blew up Block's Monument — but the man who applied the match, could not, alone, build such a pile to save his soul from the shark-maw of the Devil. But enough of this Plato who talks thro' his nose. Letter to Evert Augustus Duyckinck (3 March 1849); published in The Letters of Herman Melville (1960) edited by Merrell R. Davis and William H. Gilman, p. 78; a portion of this is sometimes modernized in two ways:

„These are the last resources of an insulted and unendurable existence.“

— Herman Melville
Context: Nature has not implanted any power in man that was not meant to be exercised at times, though too often our powers have been abused. The privilege, inborn and inalienable, that every man has of dying himself, and inflicting death upon another, was not given to us without a purpose. These are the last resources of an insulted and unendurable existence. Ch. 67

„It is a strange feeling — no hopelessness is in it, no despair. Content — that is it; and irresponsibility; but without licentious inclination. I speak now of my profoundest sense of being, not of an incidental feeling.“

— Herman Melville
Context: In me divine magnanimities are spontaneous and instantaneous — catch them while you can. The world goes round, and the other side comes up. So now I can't write what I felt. But I felt pantheistic then—your heart beat in my ribs and mine in yours, and both in God's. A sense of unspeakable security is in me this moment, on account of your having understood the book. I have written a wicked book, and feel spotless as the lamb. Ineffable socialities are in me. I would sit down and dine with you and all the Gods in old Rome's Pantheon. It is a strange feeling — no hopelessness is in it, no despair. Content — that is it; and irresponsibility; but without licentious inclination. I speak now of my profoundest sense of being, not of an incidental feeling. Letter to Nathaniel Hawthorne (July 1851); published in Memories of Hawthorne (1897) by Rose Hawthorne Lathrop, p. 157

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