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“What I feel most moved to write, that is banned―it will not pay. Yet, altogether, write the otherway I cannot.” Herman Melville wrote these...

“What I feel most moved to write, that is banned―it will not pay. Yet, altogether, write the otherway I cannot.” Herman Melville wrote these words as he struggled to survive as a failing novelist. Between 1853 and 1856, he did write “the other way,” working exclusively for magazines. He earned more money from his stories than from the combined sales of his most well known novels, Moby-Dick, Pierre, and The Confidence-Man.

In Herman Melville: Among the Magazines (University of Massachusetts Press, 2018), Graham Thompson examines the author’s magazine work in its original publication context, including stories that became classics, such as “Bartelby, the Scrivener” and “Benito Cereno,” alongside lesser-known work. Using a concept he calls “embedded authorship,” Thompson explores what it meant to be a magazine writer in the 1850s and discovers a new Melville enmeshed with forgotten materials, editors, writers, and literary traditions. He reveals how Melville responded to the practical demands of magazine writing with dazzling displays of innovation that reinvented magazine traditions and helped create the modern short story.


Stephen Colbrook is a graduate student at University College London, where he is researching a dissertation on the interaction between HIV/AIDS and state policy-making. This work will focus on the political and policy-making side of the epidemic and aims to compare the different contexts of individual states, such as California, Florida, and New Jersey. Stephen can be contacted at stephencolbrook@gmail.com.