It is dedicated to Nathaniel Hawthorne.
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On August 19, almost three weeks after his birth, Herman Melville was baptized at home by a minister of the South Reformed Dutch Church. To do this, I hit upon a plan: I brought it to work and forced myself to read twenty pages a day at lunch. It proves what I have held true ever since I started writing myself -- that any subject at all, from whittling to colonoscopies to Riverdance to bagpipe playing, can be enthralling in the hands of a competent writer -- a writer like Melville, who simultaneously locates the universal in this seemingly very particular narrative and makes even the occasionally perplexing rituals of whaling seem fascinating. So, I mean, who's really the petty one in this equation?
A global narrative
Haviland Miller, Melville , New York, Well, not to me. Melville: Writing my sodomy book.