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.

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Citations Herman Melville

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„The worst of our evils we blindly inflict upon ourselves; our officers cannot remove them, even if they would.“

—  Herman Melville
Context: The worst of our evils we blindly inflict upon ourselves; our officers cannot remove them, even if they would. From the last ills no being can save another; therein each man must be his own saviour. For the rest, whatever befall us, let us never train our murderous guns inboard; let us not mutiny with bloody pikes in our hands. Our Lord High Admiral will yet interpose; and though long ages should elapse, and leave our wrongs unredressed, yet, shipmates and world-mates! let us never forget, that, Whoever afflict us, whatever surround, Life is a voyage that's homeward-bound! Ch. 93

„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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„In the light of that martial code whereby it was formally to be judged, innocence and guilt personified in Claggart and Budd in effect changed places.“

—  Herman Melville
Context: In the light of that martial code whereby it was formally to be judged, innocence and guilt personified in Claggart and Budd in effect changed places. In a legal view the apparent victim of the tragedy was he who had sought to victimize a man blameless; and the indisputable deed of the latter, navally regarded, constituted the most heinous of military crimes. Ch. 21

„In me divine magnanimities are spontaneous and instantaneous — catch them while you can.“

—  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

„It will be a strange sort of book“

—  Herman Melville
Context: It will be a strange sort of book, tho', I fear; blubber is blubber you know; tho' you may get oil out of it, the poetry runs as hard as sap from a frozen maple tree; — & to cook the thing up, one must needs throw in a little fancy, which from the nature of the thing, must be ungainly as the gambols of the whales themselves. Yet I mean to give the truth of the thing, spite of this. On Moby-Dick, in a letter to Richard Henry Dana, Jr. (1 May 1850)

„Would that all excellent books were foundlings, without father or mother, that so it might be, we could glorify them, without including their ostensible authors.“

—  Herman Melville
Context: Would that all excellent books were foundlings, without father or mother, that so it might be, we could glorify them, without including their ostensible authors. Nor would any true man take exception to this; — least of all, he who writes, — "When the Artist rises high enough to achieve the Beautiful, the symbol by which he makes it perceptible to mortal senses becomes of little value in his eyes, while his spirit possesses itself in the enjoyment of the reality." The last sentence is a quotation of Nathaniel Hawthorne

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