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Israel Potter [Paperback]

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Item description for Israel Potter by Herman Melville...

Biography of a soldier in the American Revolution. Melville explains, "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, nor the subject at all avail himself of the biographical distinction conferred. Israel Potter well merits the present tribute--a private of Bunker Hill, who for his faithful services was years ago promoted to a still deeper privacy under the ground, with a posthumous pension, in default of any during life, annually paid him by the spring in ever-new mosses and sward."

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Item Specifications...

Pages   400
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 9.21" Width: 6.14" Height: 0.82"
Weight:   1.23 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Dec 17, 2007
Publisher   Tutis Digital Publishing Pvt. Ltd.
ISBN  8184564848  
ISBN13  9788184564846  

Availability  0 units.

More About Herman Melville

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Herman Melville's (1819-91) father's bankruptcy and death in 1832 deprived him of higher-educational oppotunities and alienated him forever from a conventional view of life.He taught school, sailed to Liverpool and back, then shipped before the mast on a Pacific whaling voyage. He deserted at the Marquesas Islands, living for a month among the cannibal Typee natives. An Australian whaleship then took him to Tahiti, where he was jailed for mutiny, but he escaped and spent some months as a beachcomber. A third whaleship took him to Hawaii, where he lived for some months before sailing home with the crew of the frigate United States. From these adventures came his popular and increasingly imaginative travel romances: Typee (1846), Omoo (1847), the allegorical Mardi (1849), Redburn (1849), White-Jacket (1850), and his masterpiece, Moby-Dick (1851). Melville married in 1847. His later works of fiction were not sea romances and sold poorly. He gave up professional writing and for twenty years served as a customs inspector in New York, where he died. Billy Budd, written in his last years, was published for the first time in 1924, on the crest of a Melville revival that began about 1920 and continues to the present day a revival that has established him among the greatest American writers.
Elizabeth Renker teachesEnglish at Ohio State University. She is the author ofStrike through the Mask: Herman Melville and the Scene of Writing.
Christopher Buckley is a widely published essayist and the author of fifteen books, including Thank Your for Smoking and Losing Mum and Pup. At eighteen, he worked his way around the world as a deckboy aboard a Norwegian merchant ship. His first book was Steaming to Bamboola: The World of a Tramp Freighter, and he has crossed the Atlantic twice aboard a sailboat and the Pacific once."

Herman Melville lived in New York City, in the state of New York. Herman Melville was born in 1819 and died in 1891.

Herman Melville has published or released items in the following series...
  1. Barnes & Noble Classics
  2. Campfire Graphic Novels
  3. Candlewick Illustrated Classics
  4. Classic Starts
  5. Dover Giant Thrift Editions
  6. Dover Thrift Editions
  7. Enriched Classics
  8. Enriched Classics (Simon & Schuster)
  9. Everyman's Library Classics & Contemporary Classics
  10. Ignatius Critical Editions
  11. Library of America
  12. Longman Critical Edition
  13. Modern Library (Hardcover)
  14. Modern Library Classics (Paperback)
  15. Norton Critical Editions
  16. Oxford World's Classics (Paperback)
  17. Penguin Classics
  18. Penguin Classics Deluxe Editions
  19. Penguin Drop Caps
  20. Signet Classics
  21. Tale Blazers
  22. Word Cloud Classics

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > General > Contemporary
2Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > General

Reviews - What do customers think about Israel Potter?

A charming (if over-the-top) spoof of Revolutionary heroics   Jul 25, 2006
After the financial failure of "Moby-Dick" and the social scandal of "Pierre," Melville settled down to write a book that would please the public, his publisher, and (most important at this point in his life) his bank account. He promised George Putnam (his publisher) both "nothing of any sort to shock the fastidious" and "nothing weighty." In short, he wrote an adventure story.

But not just any adventure story. Melville drew on a little-known autobiography published 30 years earlier and called the "Life and Remarkable Adventures of Israel R. Potter," which recounted the extraordinary career of a veteran of the Battle of Bunker Hill who delivered secret wartime letters to Benjamin Franklin, who found himself stranded in Europe, and who ended up a pauper in London. (The original Northwestern-Newberry edition reprints a facsimile copy of this source, keyed to passages in Melville's text. More remarkably, this edition notes the recent discovery of an unrelated text by a British author who included a brief account of Potter's days as a nomadic street-trader in London, along with a portrait of the man himself.)

Yet Melville's book is not merely a biographical novel. Instead, he greatly embellishes Potter's account, incorporating a farcical portrait of Franklin and adding equally comic accounts of John Paul Jones, King George, Ethan Allen, and several other historical figures whom Potter never actually met. In Melville's hands, Franklin becomes a miserly, philandering "tanned Machiavelli in tents" and "not less a lady's man, than a man's man, a wise man, and an old man"; Allen is transformed into a larger-than-life Paul Bunyan figure; King George is a kindly dolt; and Jones turns into a tattooed, flirtatious, vainglorious rake. And poor Israel Potter himself is alternately drafted, imprisoned, released, and press-ganged.

The result is not only Melville's most accessible work but also an over-the-top spoof of the heroic amateurs running the Revolution and (more subtly) an acidic indictment of the abandonment of the early American dream. While it lacks the depth or the "weight" of his other late works, "Israel Potter" makes up for its shortcomings with charm and mirth.
The least known and most humorous of Melville's works.  Jun 12, 1997
This book is at the same time the least and the most "Melvillian" of all Melville's corpus. Melville wrote in Moby-Dick that "two thirds of the world revolve in darkness." This idea certaily holds true for most of Melville's works, but not Israel Potter. In this uncharacteristically light-hearted and crisply written rewriting of American history, Melville gives an early literary version of Woody Allen's film Zelig. The character Israel Potter is that same sort of insignificant historical non-entity who just happens to get caught up in incredibly significant historical moments. In his various wanderings Israel meets and becomes politically involved with a trio of the most important American patriots--Ben Franklin, John Paul Jones, and Ethan Allen. It is through these encounters that Melville subtlely (and sometimes not so subtlely) realizes his critical agenda and those darker themes that dominate so much of his other work begin to show themselves. In his portrayal of Franklin, Melville takes a bash at what he sees as the exemplar of American "genius"--the same American genius that ignored and misunderstood his most significant works and forced him into obscurity and poverty in his lifetime. Melville sees Franklin as representative of all that is wrong with the American character--he is parsimonious, small-minded, hard-headed, and morally hypocritical. In the other two historical figures, John Paul Jones and Ethan Allen, Melville finds redemption. In them he sees represented more of that European idea of genius, the manly half-savage/half-civilized genius of Thomas Carlyle. Like Queequeg in Moby-Dick who is described as "George Washington canabalistically rendered," Jones and Allen are wildmen in a civilized society, raging against the world as they utter their outrageous and at times incomprehensible truth. A fun yet undenialbly thought-provoking read. Enjoy

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