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The Whale and His Captors; or, The Whaleman’s Adventures

The Whale and His Captors is an important firsthand account of the golden age of American whaling, chronicling both its lore and science as practiced from the inception of the fishery to the mid-1800s. Late in the composition of Moby-Dick, Herman Melville found inspiration in Cheever and his writings that would provide the final flourishes for one of America’s classic novels. After exhausting other whaling sources—Beale, Scoresby, Bennett, and Browne—Melville turned to Cheever for chapter titles and organization as well as passages that helped shape, define, and elucidate his great work. This is the first scholarly edition of The Whale and His Captors, accompanied by an introduction and apparatus that clearly elucidates Cheever’s treatise on whaling and demonstrates how his writings contributed both to the course of American literature and to our burgeoning understanding of literature’s engagement with the natural world.

264 pages | 6 x 9

History: Military History

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“This attractive reprint combines nautical experience, literature and religion to create a compelling narrative. The Whale and His Captors makes a significant contribution to current reflection on our oceanic world and the life which it sustains. It takes its rightful place alongside the most recent contribution in the field, Nick Pyenson’s Spying on Whales.”

Michael L. Hadley | The Northern Mariner/Le marin du nord

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations • Series Editor’s Preface • Acknowledgments • Introduction • A Note on the Text • THE WHALE AND HIS CAPTORS (1850) • Preface • Introduction • Coral Island of Rimatara • Raising and Cutting-In Whales • New Zealand Cruising Ground • The Whale’s Physiology and Natural History • Different Cruising Grounds and Northwest Whaling • The Whale’s Biography and Incidents in the Capture • Atlantic Ocean Mammoths and Monsters • Episodes in the Fortunes of Whalemen • Conquest and Disposal of a Bull Whale • Authentic Tragedies and Perils of the Whaling Service • Yarns from the Experience of Old Whalemen • Peculiar Vocabulary and Hazards of Whalemen • Remarkable Events in the Annals of Whaling • Claims and Advantages of the Sabbath in a Whale Ship • A Plea in Behalf of the Sabbath for Whalemen • Nearing Home and Analogies from the Sea • Knitting Up the Lessons of the Voyage at Its Close • Notes • 1853 Additions • Note F, continued • Appendix: Leaves from the Log of a Practiced Whaleman • APPENDIX TO THE SEAFARING AMERICA EDITION: CONTEMPORARY REVIEWS AND COMMENTARY • “The Vicious Appetite of a Sailor”: Review of Typee in the New York Evangelist (1846) • “The Captain’s Cruel Lance”: Specimen Passage from The Christian Parlor Book (1849) • “Contemplative Eye and Christian Heart”: Review of The Whale and His Captors in the New York Evangelist (1849) • “The Mystery of the Whale Ship”: Review of The Whale and His Captors in the Literary World (1850) • “Harper & Brothers’ Latest Publications”: Advertisement in The Literary World (1850) • “Almost Marvellous”: Scoresby’s Preface to The Whaleman’s Adventures (1850) • “Purely Accidental”: Scoresby’s Note on the Essex (1850) • “This Glorious Bird”: Excerpts from The Island World of the Pacific (1851) • “The Bold Polynesian Romance”: A Note from Life in the Sandwich Islands (1851) • “The Judgment Day Will Hold Him Liable”: Review of Moby-Dick in the New York Independent (1851) • Afterword: “The Cruel Harpoon” and the “Honorable Lamp”: The Awakening of an Environmental Consciousness in Theodore Cheever’s The Whale and His Captors

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