Herman Melville Quotes

Biography, in its purer form, confined to the ended lives of the true and brave, may be held the fairest meed of human virtue—one given and received in entire disinterestedness—since neither can the biographer hope for acknowledgment from the subject, not the subject at all avail himself of the biographical distinction conferred.
Herman Melville (1819-1891), U.S. author. Israel Potter (1855), dedication, The Writings of Herman Melville, vol. 8, eds. Harrison Hayford, Hershel Parker, and G. Thomas Tanselle (1982).
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As this appalling ocean surrounds the verdant land, so in the soul of man there lies one insular Tahiti, full of peace and joy, but encompassed by all the horror of the half known life. God keep thee! Push not off from that isle, thou canst never return!
Herman Melville (1819-1891), U.S. author. Moby-Dick (1851), ch. 58, The Writings of Herman Melville, vol. 6, eds. Harrison Hayford, Hershel Parker, and G. Thomas Tanselle (1988).
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Is it possible, after all, that spite of bricks and shaven faces, this world we live in is brimmed with wonders, and I and all mankind, beneath our garbs of common-placeness, conceal enigmas that the stars themselves, and perhaps the highest seraphim can not resolve?
Herman Melville (1819-1891), U.S. author. Pierre (1852), bk. VII, The Writings of Herman Melville, vol. 7, eds. Harrison Hayford, Hershel Parker, and G. Thomas Tanselle (1971).
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The Anglo-Saxon hive have extirpated Paganism from the greater part of the North American continent; but with it they have likewise extirpated the greater portion of the Red race. Civilization is gradually sweeping from the earth the lingering vestiges of Paganism, and at the same time the shrinking forms of its unhappy worshippers.
Herman Melville (1819-1891), U.S. author. Typee (1846), ch. 26, The Writings of Herman Melville, vol. 1, eds. Harrison Hayford, Hershel Parker, and G. Thomas Tanselle (1968).
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His memory is like wares at the auction—going, going, and anon it will be gone.
Herman Melville (1819-1891), U.S. author. "Jack Gentian" (posthumous), p. 371, Billy Budd and Other Prose Pieces, The Works of Herman Melville, vol. 13, ed. Raymond M. Weaver (1924). Spoken by "a young Croesus" about Jack Gentian.
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The incompetence of mere unaided virtue or right-mindedness ...
Herman Melville (1819-1891), U.S. author. Moby-Dick (1851), ch. 41, The Writings of Herman Melville, vol. 6, eds. Harrison Hayford, Hershel Parker, and G. Thomas Tanselle (1988). Referring to Starbuck.
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Oh, men are jailers all; jailers of themselves; and in Opinion's world ignorantly hold their noblest part a captive to their vilest.
Herman Melville (1819-1891), U.S. author. Pierre (1852), bk. V, The Writings of Herman Melville, vol. 7, eds. Harrison Hayford, Hershel Parker, and G. Thomas Tanselle (1971). Spoken by Pierre.
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I should like to have seen a gallery of coronation beauties, at Westminster Abbey, confronted for a moment by this band of Island girls; their stiffness, formality, and affectation contrasted with the artless vivacity and unconcealed natural graces of these savage maidens. It would be the Venus de' Medici placed beside a milliner's doll.
Herman Melville (1819-1891), U.S. author. Typee (1846), ch. 22, The Writings of Herman Melville, vol. 1, eds. Harrison Hayford, Hershel Parker, and G. Thomas Tanselle (1968). On the occasion of a Polynesian holiday.
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tea, a decoction that enlarges the spleen and warpest the brain, or lightly floating the spirit for a while at last lands it in a dry place.
Herman Melville (1819-1891), U.S. author. "Jack Gentian" (posthumous), p. 372, Billy Budd and Other Prose Pieces, The Works of Herman Melville, vol. 13, ed. Raymond M. Weaver (1924).
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The world's a ship on its voyage out, and not a voyage complete; and the pulpit is its prow.
Herman Melville (1819-1891), U.S. author. Moby-Dick (1851), ch. 8, The Writings of Herman Melville, vol. 6, eds. Harrison Hayford, Hershel Parker, and G. Thomas Tanselle (1988).
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