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Mehilie’s Hand S T U D I E S O F M A N U S C R I P T A N D I NT E R P R E T A T I oN Melville’s Marginalia in The Works o f Sir WilliamD’Avenant STEVEN OLSEN-SMITH Boise State University and DENNIS C. MARNON Houghton Library erman Melville acquired The Works of Sir William D’Avenant during his visit to London in 1849, began Hreading the book shortly before undertaking the composition of Moby-Dick (1851), and returned to the folio volume at least once more during the period in which he composed Clarel (1876).1 Melville’s marginalia to DAvenant was originally surveyed in print by Jay Leyda in The Melville Log; and Luther S. Mansfield and Howard P Vincent made several references to Melville’s markings in the “Explanatory Notes” section of the Hendricks House edition of Moby-Dick.2 But Melville’s markings and annotations are here made fully available for the first time thanks to the anonymous owner of the DAvenant volume and to his agent Kent Bicknell, and to Houghton Library, where the book was temporarily housed for examination. Following this introductory essay,we offer a transcription of Melville’s marginalia to DAvenant as a resource for ongoing scholarship into the connections between Melville’s writings and the books he owned. According to his 1849 London journal, Melville found the 1673 edition of D’Avenant among other “noble old works” at a bookstore in the Strand on the evening of November 17 (NN Journals, 20). He later included the copy in his record of “Books obtained in London 1849,”wherein Melville prioritized the old- ’William D’Avenant,The Works of Sir William D’Avenant (London: Herringman, 1673), Sealts No. 176; Merton M. Sealts, Jr., Melville’s Reading: Revised and Expanded Edition (Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 1988), 171. 2 Jay Leyda, The MelvilleLog: A Documentary Lqe of Herman Melville, 1819-1891 2 vols. (New York: Harcourt, Brace and Company, 1951), 1:360, 2:729-30. “ExplanatoryNotes” in Herman Melville,Moby-Dick ed. Luther S. Mansfield and Howard P. Vincent (New York Hendricks House, 1952), 583, 636, 679, 727. Hereafter cited as HH MD. L E V I A T H A N A J O U R N A L O F M E L V I L L E S T U D ~ E S 7 9 M E L V I L L E ’ S D ’ A V E N A N T est and the largestvolumes he had purchased by listing them first (144-45). Long before undertaking to classify folio whales in Moby-Dick, Melville delighted in the imagery of old, weighty books, as portrayed in his first publication “Fragments from a Writing Desk” (1839) and in his third book Mardi. Melville’s acquisition of the folio edition of D’Avenant, along with folios of Ben Jonson, Beaumont and Fletcher, and Sir Thomas Browne, marks an exhilarating high point in his self-imageas a reader and collector of books-one that would soon climax with the proliferation of literary allusion and book-related imagery in MobyDick . His front endpaper notation “New Year’s day, at sea,” with the penciled addition of “1850,” indicates some portion of the marginalia in the D’Avenant volume was recorded during the return voyage, when Melville began formulating, if not writing, his mastenvork.3 Charles Olson recorded Melville’smarginalia to D’Avenant (minus erasures) in the 1930s, when he borrowed the volume from Dr. Edmund J. Rhodebeck and kept it for two and a half years, to the growing consternation of the owner. It was apparently from Olson that Jay Leyda received a transcription for The Melville Log, from which Mansfield and Vincent drew in preparing their edition of Moby-Dick. As the two editors observe, the copy contains a nautical simile included by Melville in the “Extracts” of Moby-Dick: “‘Immense as whales, the motion of whose vast bodies can in a peaceful calm trouble the ocean till it boil”’ (NNMD xix; HH MD 583). Melvillecheck-marked the simile on page 16 of D’Avenant’s preface to Gondibert, written...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1750-1849
Print ISSN
1525-6995
Pages
pp. 79-82
Launched on MUSE
2013-05-29
Open Access
No
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