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Top Quotes By Herman Melville (Author of Moby-Dick; or, The Whale) about sea, life, love, friendship and other things.

99 Top Quotes By Herman Melville, The Author Of Typee

Born On: August 1, 1819

Died On: September 28, 1891

Born In: New York City

Died At Age: 72

Herman Melville was one of the greatest American writers and poets of the American Renaissance period. Tragically, most of the recognition that Melville today is showered upon came in after his life. He started his career as a sailor, later serving as a crew man in various vessels. It was his experience at sea that shaped much of his future career as a novelist and writer. The experience and adventure at sea formed the crux and gave a background for his debut book, ‘Typee’. His early success prompted him to write the novels, ‘Mardi’ and ‘Redburn’. He then came up with his masterpiece ‘Moby-Dick’. Although the novel failed commercially then, it is today considered as a work of sheer genius. Melville’s style was complex and baroque. His works are rich in vocabulary and have a strong sense of rhythm to them. Also, Melville in most of his works plays with imagery, creating allusion that extends to scripture, myth, philosophy, literature and the visual arts. His sheer genius can also be seen in his quotes that maps the emotional, physical and psychological existence of humans. He has written quotes on love, dignity, hope, democracy, success, failure, friendship, truth and so on. Read on to find some of the highly meaningful quotes by Herman Melville.  

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It is better to fail in originality than to succeed in imitation.

Herman Melville

I know not all that may be coming, but be it what it will, I'll go to it laughing.

Herman Melville

A smile is the chosen vehicle of all ambiguities.

Herman Melville

I do not think I have any uncharitable prejudice against the rattlesnake, still, I should not like to be one.

Herman Melville

Better to sleep with a sober cannibal than a drunk Christian.

Herman Melville

It is not down on any map; true places never are.

Herman Melville

Of all the preposterous assumptions of humanity over humanity, nothing exceeds most of the criticisms made on the habits of the poor by the well-housed, well- warmed, and well-fed.

Herman Melville

As for me, I am tormented with an everlasting itch for things remote. I love to sail forbidden seas, and land on barbarous coasts.

Herman Melville

I try all things, I achieve what I can.

Herman Melville

I would prefer not to.

Herman Melville

Talk not to me of blasphemy, man; I'd strike the sun if it insulted me.

Herman Melville

For there is no folly of the beast of the earth which is not infinitely outdone by the madness of men

Herman Melville

...and Heaven have mercy on us all - Presbyterians and Pagans alike - for we are all somehow dreadfully cracked about the head, and sadly need mending.

Herman Melville

Call me Ishmael.

Herman Melville

Ignorance is the parent of fear.

Herman Melville

I love to sail forbidden seas, and land on barbarous coasts.

Herman Melville

A man thinks that by mouthing hard words he understands hard things.

Herman Melville

...to the last I grapple with thee; from hell's heart I stab at thee; for hate's sake I spit my last breath at thee.

Herman Melville

Human madness is oftentimes a cunning and most feline thing. When you think it fled, it may have but become transfigured into some still subtler form.

Herman Melville

Think not, is my eleventh commandment; and sleep when you can, is my twelfth.

Herman Melville

It is the easiest thing in the world for a man to look as if he had a great secret in him.

Herman Melville

Truth uncompromisingly told will always have its jagged edges.

Herman Melville

Real strength never impairs beauty or harmony, but it often bestows it, and in everything imposingly beautiful, strength has much to do with the magic.

Herman Melville

To produce a mighty book, you must choose a mighty theme.

Herman Melville

A noble craft, but somehow a most melancholy! All noble things are touched with that.

Herman Melville

I have written a wicked book, and feel spotless as the lamb.

Herman Melville

Our souls are like those orphans whose unwedded mothers die in bearing them: the secret of our paternity lies in their grave, and we must there to learn it.

Herman Melville

Beneath those stars is a universe of gliding monsters.

Herman Melville

We cannot live for ourselves alone. Our lives are connected by a thousand invisible threads, and along these sympathetic fibers, our actions run as causes and return to us as results.

Herman Melville

Whatever my fate, I'll go to it laughing.

Herman Melville

Top-heavy was the ship as a dinnerless student with all Aristotle in his head.

Herman Melville

Give not thyself up, then, to fire, lest it invert thee, deaden thee, as for the time it did me. There is a wisdom that is woe; but there is a woe that is madness.

Herman Melville

In one word, Queequeg, said I, rather digressively; hell is an idea first born on an undigested apple-dumpling; and since then perpetuated through the hereditary dyspepsias nurtured by Ramadans.

Herman Melville

Truth is in things, and not in words.

Herman Melville

I'll try a pagan friend, thought I, since Christian kindness has proved but hollow courtesy.

Herman Melville

See how elastic our prejudices grow when once love comes to bend them.

Herman Melville

Ah, happiness courts the light so we deem the world is gay. But misery hides aloof so we deem that misery there is none.

Herman Melville

In this world, shipmates, sin that pays its way can travel freely and without a passport; whereas Virtue, if a pauper, is stopped at all frontiers.

Herman Melville

I am madness maddened! That wild madness that's only calm to comprehend itself

Herman Melville

We cannibals must help these Christians.

Herman Melville

To produce a mighty book, you must choose a mighty theme. No great and enduring volume can ever be written on the flea, though many there be who have tried it.

Herman Melville

The Past is the textbook of tyrants; the Future is the Bible of the Free.

Herman Melville

There is no folly of the beast of the earth which is not infinitely outdone by the madness of man.

Herman Melville

Let faith oust fact; let fancy oust memory; I look deep down and do believe.

Herman Melville

Towards thee I roll, thou all-destroying but unconquering whale; to the last I grapple with thee; from hell's heart I stab at thee; for hate's sake I spit my last breath at thee.

Herman Melville

For God's sake, be economical with your lamps and candles! not a gallon you burn, but at least one drop of man's blood was spilled for it.

Herman Melville

Book! You lie there; the fact is, you books must know your places. You'll do to give us the bare words and facts, but we come in to supply the thoughts.

Herman Melville

Genius is full of trash.

Herman Melville

A whale ship was my Yale College and my Harvard.

Herman Melville

Better sleep with a sober cannibal than a drunken Christian.

Herman Melville

I am past scorching; not easily can’st thou scorch a scar.

Herman Melville

Thou saw'st the locked lovers when leaping from their flaming ship; heart to heart they sank beneath the exulting wave; true to each other, when heaven seemed false to them.

Herman Melville

Because no man can ever feel his own identity aright except his eyes be closed; as if darkness were indeed the proper element of our essences, though light be more congenial to our clayey part.

Herman Melville

My body is but the lees of my better being.

Herman Melville

All mortal greatness is but disease.

Herman Melville

Ego non baptizo te in nomine patris, sed in nomine diaboli!

Herman Melville

Are not half our lives spent in reproaches for foregone actions, of the true nature and consequences of which we were wholly ignorant at the time?

Herman Melville

Doesn't the devil live forever; who ever heard that the devil was dead? Did you ever see any person wearing mourning for the devil?

Herman Melville

[T]here is no folly of the beasts of the earth which is not infinitely outdone by the madness of men.

Herman Melville

[T]hen all collapsed, and the great shroud of the sea rolled on as it rolled five thousand years ago.

Herman Melville

...hell is an idea first born on an undigested apple-dumpling...

Herman Melville

To a sensitive being, pity is not seldom pain.

Herman Melville

He piled upon the whale's white hump the sum of all the general rage and hate felt by his whole race from Adam down; and then, as if his chest had been a mortar, he burst his hot heart's shell upon it.

Herman Melville

In truth, a mature man who uses hair oil, unless medicinally, that man has probably got a quoggy spot in him somewhere.

Herman Melville

Ah, Humanity

Herman Melville

You cannot hide the soul.

Herman Melville

Madman! Look through my eyes if thou hast none of thine own.

Herman Melville

And tell him to paint me a sign, with-"no suicides permitted here, and no smoking in the parlor;" might as well kill both birds at once.

Herman Melville

Queequeg was a native of Kokovoko, an island far away to the West and South. It is not down in any map; true places never are.

Herman Melville

I am a man who, from his youth upwards, has been filled with a profound conviction that the easiest way of life is the best.

Herman Melville

The path to my fixed purpose is laid with iron rails whereon my soul is grooved to run

Herman Melville

There is all the different in the world between paying and being paid.

Herman Melville

All my means are sane, my motive and my object mad.

Herman Melville

A purse is but a rag unless you have something in it.

Herman Melville

At length I fell asleep, with the volume in my hand; and never slept so sound before

Herman Melville

Wonderfullest things are ever the unmentionable; deep memories yield no epitaphs

Herman Melville

Is he mad? Anyway there's something on his mind, as sure as there must be something on a deck when it cracks.

Herman Melville

Will you, or will you not, quit me?' I now demanded in a sudden passion, advancing close to him. 'I would prefer not to quit you', he replied, gently emphasizing the not.

Herman Melville

Yes, as everyone knows, meditation and water are wedded for ever.

Herman Melville

Seldom have I known any profound being that had anything to say to this world, unless forced to stammer out something by way of getting a living. Oh! happy that the world is such an excellent listener!

Herman Melville

At present I would prefer not to be a little reasonable,' was his mildly cadaverous reply.

Herman Melville

There she blows!-there she blows! A hump like a snow-hill! It is Moby Dick!

Herman Melville

To be hated cordially is only a left-handed compliment

Herman Melville

But Captain Vere was now again motionless, standing absorbed in thought. Again starting, he vehemently exclaimed, "Struck dead by an angel of God! Yet that angel must hang!

Herman Melville

Do not presume, well-housed, well-warmed, and well-fed, to criticize the poor

Herman Melville

...what are the comprehensible terrors of man compared with the interlinked terrors and wonders of God!

Herman Melville

For there is no quality in this world that is not what it is merely by contrast. Nothing exists in itself.

Herman Melville

There are some enterprises in which a careful disorderliness is the true method.

Herman Melville

...the great floodgates of the wonder-world swung open...

Herman Melville

And yet a child’s utter innocence is but its blank ignorance, and the innocence more or less wanes as intelligence waxes.

Herman Melville

Money, you think, is the sole motive to pains and hazard, deception and devilry, in this world. How much money did the devil make by gulling Eve?

Herman Melville

And here, shipmates, is true and faithful repentance; not clamorous for pardon, but grateful for punishment.

Herman Melville

Aye, aye! and I'll chase him round Good Hope, and round the Horn, and round the Norway Maelstrom, and round perdition's flames before I give him up.

Herman Melville

Evil is the chronic malady of the universe, and checked in one place, breaks forth in another.

Herman Melville

There are some persons in this world, who, unable to give better proof of being wise, take a strange delight in showing what they think they have sagaciously read in mankind by uncharitable suspicions of them.

Herman Melville

Art is the objectification of feeling

Herman Melville