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The Piazza Tales

By Herman Melville and Mint Editions
The Piazza Tales by Herman Melville and Mint Editions digital book - Fable

Publisher Description

The Piazza Tales (1856) is a collection of short stories by American writer Herman Melville. Before publication, five of its six stories appeared in Putnam’s Monthly during a period of productivity with which Melville sought to achieve popular success as a writer of literary fiction. After the failure of his novels Moby-Dick (1851) and Pierre: or, The Ambiguities (1852), Melville struggled to find a publisher who would accept his work, and contemporary reviews of The Piazza Tales were negative to lukewarm at best. When Melville’s work was reappraised in the 1920s, scholars recognized these stories as not only well-composed, but keenly focused on the dominant ethical and sociopolitical issues of their day.

In “The Piazza,” a man buys an old farmhouse with a view on the nearby mountains. Despite his fortune, he spends his days longing for more, wishing his home had its own piazza so he could share the beauty of the surrounding landscape with guests. “Bartleby, the Scrivener” is a story set at an anonymous law office on Wall Street where a mysterious clerk suddenly refuses to do his work. Amused at first, the lawyer who narrates the story is eventually overcome with frustration and struggles to rid himself of the intractable Bartleby. In “Benito Cereno,” a merchant ship captain sailing around the coast of Chile chances on a slave ship in distress. Hoping to assist its captain and crew, he boards their ship, unwittingly stumbling on a dangerous and volatile situation. The Piazza Tales is a collection of some of American literary icon Herman Melville’s most celebrated stories.

With a beautifully designed cover and professionally typeset manuscript, this edition of Herman Melville’s The Piazza Tales is a classic of American literature reimagined for modern readers.

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About Herman Melville

Herman Melville (1819-1891) was an American novelist, poet, and short story writer. Following a period of financial trouble, the Melville family moved from New York City to Albany, where Allan, Herman’s father, entered the fur business. When Allan died in 1832, the family struggled to make ends meet, and Herman and his brothers were forced to leave school in order to work. A small inheritance enabled Herman to enroll in school from 1835 to 1837, during which time he studied Latin and Shakespeare. The Panic of 1837 initiated another period of financial struggle for the Melvilles, who were forced to leave Albany. After publishing several essays in 1838, Melville went to sea on a merchant ship in 1839 before enlisting on a whaling voyage in 1840. In July 1842, Melville and a friend jumped ship at the Marquesas Islands, an experience the author would fictionalize in his first novel, Typee (1845). He returned home in 1844 to embark on a career as a writer, finding success as a novelist with the semi-autobiographical novels Typee and Omoo (1847), befriending and earning the admiration of Nathaniel Hawthorne and Oliver Wendell Holmes, and publishing his masterpiece Moby-Dick in 1851. Despite his early success as a novelist and writer of such short stories as “Bartleby, the Scrivener” and “Benito Cereno,” Melville struggled from the 1850s onward, turning to public lecturing and eventually settling into a career as a customs inspector in New York City. Towards the end of his life, Melville’s reputation as a writer had faded immensely, and most of his work remained out of print until critical reappraisal in the early twentieth century recognized him as one of America’s finest writers.

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