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National Post

Herman Melville books celebrated by Google doodle on 161st anniversary of Moby Dick’s releaseHerman Melville’s books were the focus of Thursday’s Google doodle, which celebrated the 161st anniversary of Moby Dick’s release.Melville, often thought of as one of the greatest American authors, was largely unheralded in his lifetime for his later work, such as Moby Dick, going mostly unread and unrecognized while he lived. It was not until the beginning of the 20th century that his works, specifically Moby Dick, got widespread recognition.

Herman Melville books celebrated by Google doodle on 161st anniversary of Moby Dick’s release
Herman Melville’s books were the focus of Thursday’s Google doodle, which celebrated the 161st anniversary of Moby Dick’s release.

Melville, often thought of as one of the greatest American authors, was largely unheralded in his lifetime for his later work, such as Moby Dick, going mostly unread and unrecognized while he lived. It was not until the beginning of the 20th century that his works, specifically Moby Dick, got widespread recognition.

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Are retold tales a new fad or the latest incarnation of a rich tradition?

Margot Livesey’s latest novel, The Flight of Gemma Hardy, tells the story of a young girl who goes to live with her aunt, uncle and cousins after the death of her parents. The uncle treats his niece like a daughter, but after his accidental death she is shunned by her remaining relatives. Eventually, she enrolls in a strict boarding school, and later, lands a job at a remote estate tutoring a young girl. She falls for the young girl’s brooding guardian, only to have a deep, dark secret threaten their relationship.
Sound familiar?

The Flight of Gemma Hardy is a retelling of Charlotte Brontë’s novel Jane Eyre. This is not a secret, but a selling point. Two of the blurbs that grace the back of an advance copy of the book mention Brontë’s classic, and Livesey isn’t shy about acknowledging her debt. ILLUSTRATIONS BY STEVE MURRAY

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The Unread: You’ll never read every book; perhaps that should be cause for hope Recently, I began to read Moby-Dick for the first time. I was inspired to take Melville’s 1851 classic novel off the shelf, in part, by the fact that three related books had come across my desk in short succession: Chad Harbach’s The Art of Fielding; Matt Kish’s Moby-Dick in Pictures; and Nathaniel Philbrick’s Why Read Moby-Dick?Why read Moby-Dick, indeed? I’d lived 30 years without reading a page of Captain Ahab’s crazed pursuit of the great white and the world had not come off its axis. Still, I felt there was a gap the size of a sperm whale on my personal reading list. So, midway through my interview with Kish, I blurted out that I intended to finish Moby-Dick by the end of the year. I’d made a similar promise a few weeks earlier, while talking to Harbach, but had yet to even find the book on my shelves. This vow to Kish, who had just finished a project that saw him complete one painting for every page of the book, was like signing a contract with myself.“I have a very small library upstairs, and I often say one day maybe I’ll read all the books I have,” George Jonas told me during a recent interview. “We’re not scratching the surface of what’s worth reading, [even] in one language …”It’s true. There are scores of books I have not read, and it saddens me to think that I will never read most of them. I have not read War and Peace, nor Anna Karenina, Crime and Punishment or pretty much any of the Russians. I have read Pride and Prejudice, but that’s it for Austen. I’ve read To The Lighthouse, but not Mrs. Dalloway, though I have seen The Hours (but I haven’t read that, either). I’ve read Dubliners (well, most of it) and A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, but haven’t even attempted Ulysses and was scared off by the first page of Finnegans Wake. The only Brontë sister I’ve read is Emily. I have all of Roth and Bellow and most of Updike to look forward to. I’m embarrassed to reveal how little Atwood and Munro I’ve consumed. If any of these books come up in conversation, I’ll offer a polite smile and quickly change the subject. (Illustration by Clayton Hanmer)

nparts:

The Unread: You’ll never read every book; perhaps that should be cause for hope
Recently, I began to read Moby-Dick for the first time. I was inspired to take Melville’s 1851 classic novel off the shelf, in part, by the fact that three related books had come across my desk in short succession: Chad Harbach’s The Art of Fielding; Matt Kish’s Moby-Dick in Pictures; and Nathaniel Philbrick’s Why Read Moby-Dick?

Why read Moby-Dick, indeed? I’d lived 30 years without reading a page of Captain Ahab’s crazed pursuit of the great white and the world had not come off its axis. Still, I felt there was a gap the size of a sperm whale on my personal reading list. So, midway through my interview with Kish, I blurted out that I intended to finish Moby-Dick by the end of the year. I’d made a similar promise a few weeks earlier, while talking to Harbach, but had yet to even find the book on my shelves. This vow to Kish, who had just finished a project that saw him complete one painting for every page of the book, was like signing a contract with myself.

“I have a very small library upstairs, and I often say one day maybe I’ll read all the books I have,” George Jonas told me during a recent interview. “We’re not scratching the surface of what’s worth reading, [even] in one language …”

It’s true. There are scores of books I have not read, and it saddens me to think that I will never read most of them. I have not read War and Peace, nor Anna Karenina, Crime and Punishment or pretty much any of the Russians. I have read Pride and Prejudice, but that’s it for Austen. I’ve read To The Lighthouse, but not Mrs. Dalloway, though I have seen The Hours (but I haven’t read that, either). I’ve read Dubliners (well, most of it) and A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, but haven’t even attempted Ulysses and was scared off by the first page of Finnegans Wake. The only Brontë sister I’ve read is Emily. I have all of Roth and Bellow and most of Updike to look forward to. I’m embarrassed to reveal how little Atwood and Munro I’ve consumed. If any of these books come up in conversation, I’ll offer a polite smile and quickly change the subject. (Illustration by Clayton Hanmer)