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ARTHUR MELVILLE (1858-1904)

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Originally appearing in Volume V18, Page 103 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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ARTHUR MELVILLE (1858-1904), British painter, was born and detained, without hardship, four months; was rescued by in Scotland, in a village of Haddingtonshire. He took up paint- the crew of an Australian vessel, which he joined, and two years ing at an early age, and though he attended a night-school and later reached New York. Thereafter, with the exception of a studied afterwards in Paris and Grez, he learnt more from passenger voyage around the world in 186o, Melville remained practice and personal observation than from school training. in the United States, devoting himself to literature—though for a The remarkable colour-sense which is so notable a feature of his considerable period (1866–1885) he held a post in the New York work, whether in oils or in water-colour, came to him during his custom-house—and being perhaps Hawthorne's most intimate friend among the literary men of America. His writings are numerous, and of varying merit; his verse, patriotic and other, is forgotten; and his works of fiction and of travel are of irregular execution. Nevertheless, few authors have been enabled so freely to introduce romantic personal experiences into their books: in his first work, Typee: A Peep at Polynesian Life, or Four Months' Residence in a Valley of the Marquesas (1846), he described his escape from the cannibals; while in Omoo, a Narrative of Adventures in the South Seas (1847), White Jacket, or The World in a Man-of-War (185o), and especially Moby Dick, or The Whale (1851), he portrayed seafaring life and character with vigour and originality, and from a personal knowledge equal to that of Cooper, Marryat or Clark Russell. But these records of adventure were followed by other tales so turgid, eccentric, opinionative, and loosely written as to seem the work of another author. Melville was the product of a period in American literature when the fiction written by writers below Irving, Poe and Hawthorne was measured by humble artistic standards. He died in New York on the 28th of September 1891.
End of Article: ARTHUR MELVILLE (1858-1904)
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