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45. A Natural History of Melville’s Reading?

Did Melville read it?

Thomas Beale
Herman Melville

London, England, 1839

This copy of Thomas Beale's The Natural History of the Sperm Whale (London, 1839) is signed by and belonged to the private library of Herman Melville. Beale’s history, acquired in July 1850 while Melville was revising Moby-Dick, served as a source book for many of the technical chapters of the finished book. This copy is covered with extensive markings—some of which were erased but have been recovered by Melville researchers—that show Melville excising entire passages for wholesale incorporation into Moby-Dick and annotating others that he used after reworking them. For a detailed discussion and appendices that chart all of Melville’s markings, see Steven Olsen-Smith, "Melville’s Copy of Thomas Beale's The Natural History of the Sperm Whale and the Composition of Moby-Dick," Harvard Library Bulletin 21.3 (Fall 2010): 1-77. More generally a valuable resource for the study of Melville's marginalia is on-line at http://melvillesmarginalia.org/front.php
After the book left Melville’s library, it was for a time part of a circulating library and has old library markings in it, including ink stamps and a partial Dewey decimal classification number.

. *AC85 M4977 Zz839b.
HOLLIS Catalog: 002163880
Thomas Beale, Herman Melville, inscriptions



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