He endured a ‘horrid week’ of pain in his eyes.
In the next two years he wrote Israel Potter.
Melville may not have put enough food on the table.
The most important thing in his life was the whole book.
One of the attacks of ‘crick in the back.’
He decided to get more money from another publisher for the tortoise story—or at least part of the tortoise material—or at least material also dealing with tortoises.
That fall Malcolm shot himself to death at the age of eighteen.
What was he to do? What was he to do?
Harpers quietly began letting literary people know that they thought Melville was crazy—”a little crazy,” to be exact—not too crazy.
'Herman Melville Crazy,' read one headline.
His daughter Frances blamed him for her sister Bessie’s arthritis, her brother’s suicide, her brother Stanwix’s wasted life and early death, innumerable acts, such as rousing her out of bed at least one night to help him proofread Clarel.
As late as the summer of 1851 he was ostentatiously climbing trees.
The constant working of the brain, & excitement of the imagination, is wearing Herman out.
Then he qualified himself, ‘or rather, chiefly, of Tortoise Hunting Adventure.’
No one had a chance to say, ‘Aren’t these Brits odd? They are saying Ishmael does not survive, but right here in my copy Ishmael is rescued by the Rachel.’
Herman Melville did not have enough money to get married.
All his books were botches.
Adapted from Hershel Parker’s “Damned by Dollars”