Monday, January 14 - Morning seminar.
In the 1840s Melville wrote two books about his adventures as a whaler in the South Pacific. Though the core of these story is autobiographical, Melville padded and embellished the stories (frequently "borrowing" from other travel writers) and became an overnight sensation in America and England.
We explore excerpts of Typee (1846) and Omoo (1847) to discover both his storytelling style and the way that he romanticized the South Pacific. Ironically, his great novel Moby Dick published in 1851 was a flop (only to be rediscovered in the 20th Century), and it was Typee and Omoo that brought him fame.
These two travel fantasies became the inspiration of later writers on the South Pacific -- Robert Louis Stevenson, Jack London, and others.
This morning we will also look at his short story about the Galapagos: "Norfolk Islands and the Chola Widow". This incredible story is part of a collection of short stories titled The Enchanted Isles. They were written out of financial desperation in 1854 and based on newspaper reports of the "Lone Woman of San Nicolas Island", who lived along for 18 years off the coast of Southern California. The same story was immortalized years later in Scott O'Dell's juvenile novel, Island of the Blue Dolphins (1960) We will compare the two fictional accounts by the two very different master storytellers.