These unfinished writings include, besides Billy Budd, two projected volumes containing poems and prose pieces, Weeds and Wildings and Parthenope; three prose pieces, “Rammon,” “Story of Daniel Orme,” and “Under the Rose”; and some three dozen poems of varying lengths. Some of these pieces were surely composed late in Melville’s career, during his retirement, but others may date to as early as the 1850s. Except for Billy Budd, many of these works have not been readily available in reliable texts, when available at all.
This volume, the result of the editors’ meticulous study of the manuscripts, offers new reading texts, with significant corrections of words, phrases, and titles, the inclusion of heretofore unpublished lines of verse, and the return to their original locations of the two poems, “The Enviable Isles” and “Pausilippo,” that Melville had extracted for use in John Marr (1888) and Timoleon (1891). Hershel Parker’s Historical Note traces how these writings fit into the trajectory of Melville’s career, and the rest of the Editorial Appendix presents the scholarly evidence and decisions made in creating the reading texts. As a whole, the Northwestern-Newberry Edition of The Writings of Herman Melville, now complete in fifteen volumes, offers for the first time the total body of Melville’s extant writings in a critical text, faithful to his intentions.
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