The Eaton Portrait

Eaton portrait of Herman Melville
By permission of Houghton Library
Harvard University: 61Z-4

(Click to view a larger image)


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The Melville Society Archive

Finding Aid to the Jay Leyda Papers (1944-1956)



Table of Contents

Overview of Collection

Biography of Jay Leyda

Scope and Content

General Organization and Arrangement


Index Terms

General Finding Aid

Detailed Container Lists


Overview of the Collection

Repository:  The Melville Society Archive, New Bedford Whaling Museum Library, New Bedford

                        Whaling Museum, 18 Johnny Cake Hill, MA


Creator:         Jay Leyda (1910-1988)


Title:               Jay Leyda Collection


Dates:                        ca 1944-1956


Language:    English


Prepared by:            Initial sorting done by Michael P. Dyer; initial organization by Nathan Adams;Series I: Amy O’Neal; Series II: Peter Craig Edwards; edited by Mary K. Bercaw Edwards



The collection contains the papers of Jay Leyda ca 1944-1956, including correspondence, clippings, some manuscript materials, articles, research notes, and transcripts. Of particular interest are files in the first three boxes of Series I, which include correspondence relating to his work on Herman Melville, Emily Dickinson, and Russian film. Series II, Box 6, contains articles, research, notes, and images directly related to Leyda’s work on The Melville Log.


Acquisition Information:

The Leyda collection was presented to The Melville Society Cultural Center by Walter E. Bezanson through a note dated April 5, 2006. Walter Bezanson was a Melville scholar (PhD from Yale) and good friend of Jay Leyda. The original copy of the note (seeBOX 1, Folder 8) is transcribed here: “Jay Leyda left this box of notes and letters with me years ago. He and his exotic wife, Si-Lan, stayed with us overnight several times. We had a large old home, and at the time Jay and Si-Lan seemed to have no “place”, other than the beat up car in which they arrived. Jay asked if he might leave this box with me. He never re-claimed it. I did not open it until recently, [and] have not gone through its contents. It seems appropriate for this miscellany from the time when Jay was working on The Melville Log to come to rest with the society. It’s merely a fragment from his incredibly productive and slightly mysterious life. He was a dear friend. – Walter”


Preferred Citation: Jay Leyda Papers, Melville Society Archive



Jay Leyda (1910-1988) was a film maker, film historian, photographer, translator, and scholar of Herman Melville, Emily Dickinson, and the Russian composers Modeste Petrovich Musorgsky and Sergei Rachmaninoff. Leyda’s first film “A Bronx Morning” (1931) led to his acceptance into the Moscow State Film School, where he studied directing with Sergei Eisenstein, most famous for his 1925 silent film “The Battleship Potemkin.” Leyda worked with Eisenstein during the making of “Bezhin Meadow” (1937), which was suppressed and believed destroyed. Leyda's work in Soviet film, especially with Eisenstein, ultimately led to the publication of The Film Sense (1942) and Film Form: Essays in Film Theory (1949), both translated and edited collections of Eisenstein’s essays; Kino: A History of the Russian and Soviet Film (1960); and Eisenstein at Work (1982), with Zina Voynow. Leyda served as Assistant Curator of the Film Department of the Museum of Modern Art (New York) from 1936 until his resignation in 1940, convinced that the administration saw him as too much of a “Trotskyite.” While working as a technical advisor in Hollywood, Leyda began his study of Melville documents, resulting in the publication of the Complete Stories of Melville (1949), the Portable Melville (1952), and most importantly The Melville Log: A Documentary Life of Herman Melville (1951). The Melville Log was initially compiled as a birthday gift for Eisenstein, a Melville enthusiast. In 1943, in the midst of World War II, he was briefly drafted into the Army. Leyda collaborated with Sergei Bertensson on The Musorgsky Reader: A Life of Modeste Petrovich Musorgsky in Letters and Documents (1947) and Sergei Rachmaninoff: A Lifetime in Music (1956). He spent 1955 peripatetically in Washington, DC, cataloging the Bingham Dickinson collection at the Folger Shakespeare Library. From the mid-1950s until the mid-1970s, Leyda and his Trinidadian-Chinese wife Si-lan Chen Leyda (1905-1996), whom he had married in 1934, traveled extensively; during this time, he wrote The Years and Hours of Emily Dickinson (1960) and Films Beget Films: A Study of the Compilation Film (1964). Leyda wrote the libretto for Walter Aschaffenburg’s opera Bartleby, a work consisting of a prologue and two acts based on Melville’s short story. The opera premiered at Oberlin College in 1964. Leyda taught briefly at Yale University and York University, Toronto, before becoming Gottesman Professor of Cinema Studies at New York University in 1974. Voices of Film Experience: 1894-to the Present (1977) was published eleven years before his death in 1988 at the age of 78. Si-Lan Chen Leyda’s autobiography, Footnote to History, was published in 1984.


Scope and Content

The Leyda papers include correspondence, notes, images, articles, offprints, and transcripts (1944-1956) related to Leyda’s work primarily on Herman Melville, Emily Dickinson, Russian and Soviet Film History and Sergei Mikhailovich Eisenstein (Soviet film director, 1898 – 1948), and limited references to Sergei Rachmaninoff (Russian composer, pianist, and conductor, 1873 – 1943). Specific works highlighted throughout the collection include, but are not limited to, The Melville Log (Harcourt Brace, 1951), The Portable Melville (The Viking Press, 1952), the libretto written for Walter Aschaffenburg’s opera, “Bartleby” (1964), The Years and Hours of Emily Dickinson (Yale University Press, 1960), Kino, A History of The Russian and Soviet Film (Macmillan, 1960), and The Musorgsky Reader (W.W. Norton, 1947) which he co-edited and translated with Sergei Bertenson. Also contains correspondence with Millicent Todd Bingham while she was editing Emily Dickinson's Home: Letters of Edward Dickinson and His Family (Harper & Brothers Publishers, 1955). Finally, the collection includes other professional and personal correspondence as well as other miscellaneous academic papers, letters, and articles by Leyda. Contains some memorabilia relating to friends, family, and Leyda’s Military Service.


General Organization and Arrangement

Series I: Correspondence: Boxes 1-4. All letters are from the correspondent except where noted. Information is added where possible to provide context.


Series II: Research, notes, news clippings, manuscripts, transcripts, and offprints: Boxes 5-8.


Series I


Box 1             Melville Correspondence: Leyda’s research and work on Herman Melville

(1944-1956), including arrangements and contract(s) for The Melville Log (1951) and The Portable Melville (1952). Contains correspondence that is addressed to or from prominent Melville scholars and/or family members. This box may also contain brief references to other works outside of Melville.


Box 2 Film & Russian Studies Correspondence: Leyda’s research and work on Soviet and Russian

Film History and the writing of Kino, A History of The Russian and Soviet Film (Macmillan, 1960). Also includes letters to and/or from friends and professionals in the film industry that may make mention of other projects not necessarily related to Russian film.


Box 3 Dickinson Correspondence: Leyda’s research and work on Emily Dickinson and The

Years and Hours of Emily Dickinson (Yale University Press, 1960). Contains letters to

and from other prominent Dickinson scholars such as Millicent Todd Bingham and

Thomas H. Johnson and his editorial assistant, Theodora Van Wagenen Ward from

Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.


Box 4 A House to Be Born In, Friends and Family Correspondence: refers to an original

poem by Leyda he intended to publish called A House to Be Born In. Family and friend correspondence may contain references to projects Leyda and/or the correspondents were working on at the time but are more personal than academically informative in nature with regards to Leyda’s specific works. Also includes holiday greeting cards. Friends include Daniel Curley (1919-1989) and Gladys Yang (1919-1999).


Series II


Box 5 Articles, research, notes, and images directly related to Herman Melville. Includes copies

of Melville’s works and letters.


Box 6 Articles, research, notes, and images directly related to Leyda’s work on The Melville Log.

            Includes copies of Melville’s works and letters and Melville Society Newsletters.


Box 7 Articles, research, notes, and transcripts directly related to Sergei Eisenstein, Emily

Dickinson, and Sergei Rachmaninoff. Also includes miscellaneous academic papers, lectures, and articles by Leyda.


Box 8 Odd size items, including research and personal notes on 3x5 paper, oversize research

            notes on the Melville family, notes and library slips bundled in rubber bands, and an

            accordion folder filled with notes.


Box 9 Offprints.



Citation for all use must be made to the Jay Leyda Papers, Melville Society Archive.
Index Terms



Bertensson, Sergei (1885 – 1962)

Bingham, Millicent Todd (1880 - 1968)

Dickinson, Emily (1830-1886)

Eisenstein, Sergei Mikhailovich (1898 – 1948)

Johnson, Thomas H. (1902-1985)

Melville, Herman (1819-1891)

Musorgsky, Modest Petrovich (1839-1881)

Rachmaninoff, Sergei (1873 – 1943)


Corporate Bodies (and vessels)

Acushnet (vessel)

George Allen & Unwin

Berkshire Athenaeum, The

Greenhouse Press, The (San Francisco, CA)

Harcourt, Brace & Company, Inc.

New York State Library

Random House

Reynal & Hitchcock

Rupert Hart-Davis Limited

Somers (vessel)



American Literature




Motion pictures

Russian and Soviet Film History



Amherst, MA

Pittsfield, MA


Soviet Union

“Yaddo”, Saratoga Springs






Film Director


General Finding Aid


BOX 1: Melville Correspondence (60 Folders)


1: Folder 1                Agee, Mrs. James (Mia Fritsch)   1955                           (1 item)


1: Folder 2                Allen, Gay Wilson                           1955                           (2 items)


1: Folder 3                Aschaffenburg, Walter                  1954-1955                 (3 items)


1: Folder 4                Barbarow, George                         1952-1954                 (3 items)


1: Folder 5                Batchelder, Charles F., Jr.                       1951                           (1 item)


1: Folder 6                Bennett Book Studios                  1947                           (2 items)


1: Folder 7                The Berkshire Athenaeum                      1954                           (3 items)


1: Folder 8                Bezanson, Walter                           2006                           (1 item)

                                    (correspondence with The Melville Society)


1: Folder 9                Birss, John                                      1945                           (2 items)


1: Folder 10  Blitzstein, Marc                               1954                           (3 items)


1: Folder 11  CBS Radio (George Crothers)    1953                           (2 items)


1: Folder 12  Criscitiello, John J.                                    1955                           (2 items)


1: Folder 13  Davis, Merrell Rees                                    unknown                 (1 item)


1: Folder 14  Fields, Mr. & Mrs. Joseph 1950-1954                 (8 items)

(National Society of Autograph Collectors)


1: Folder 15  Gilman, William H.                          1953-1954                 (4 items)


1: Folder 16  Harcourt, Brace                              1950, 1955                (5 items)

                                    and Company, Inc.


1: Folder 17  Hayford, Harrison M.                     1951-1955                 (9 items)


1: Folder 18  Heflin, Wilson Lumpkin                unknown – 1955     (5 items)


1: Folder 19  Howard, Leon                                 1951-1952                 (2 items)


1: Folder 20  James, Cyril Lionel Robert                      1952-1953                 (3 items)


1: Folder 21  Kaplan, Sidney and Cora             1952-1955                 (11 items)


1: Folder 22  Kazin, Alfred                                                1952                           (6 items)


1: Folder 23  Kirschner, Leon                              unknown                  (3 items)


1: Folder 24  Kirstein, Lincoln Edward             1951                           (3 items)


1: Folder 25  Lankes, J.J.                                      1954                           (2 items)


1: Folder 26  Lawrence, Dan H.                           1951                           (2 items)


1: Folder 27  Life Magazine (Robin Hinsdale)             1954                           (3 items)


1: Folder 28  Melville Family Members              unknown, 1947, 1952 (5 items)


1: Folder 29  Morewood, Helen                           1951-1952                 (3 items)


1: Folder 30  Murray, Henry A.                             1947, 1952                (3 items)


1: Folder 31  New York State Library                1950-1954                 (3 items)


1: Folder 32  Pearson, Norman Holmes                       1954-1955                 (6 items)


1: Folder 33  Pierce, Cornelia Marium               1951                           (3 items)


1: Folder 34  Providence Public Library                       1954                          (2 items)


1: Folder 35  Random House, Inc.                                  1948-1952                 (3 items)


1:Folder 36               Reeves, John                                              1954                           (5 items)


1: Folder 37  Reynal & Hitchcock                                   1946-1948                 (21 items)


1: Folder 38  Roper, Laura Wood                                   1952-1953                 (2 items)


1: Folder 39  Rolfe, Edwin and Mary                  1951-1952                 (5 items)


1: Folder 40  Rupert Hart-Davis Limited                       1947                           (3 items)


1: Folder 41  Savannah Public Library                         1950-1951                 (2 items)


1: Folder 42  Sealts, Merton M., Jr                      1951-1952                 (5 items)


1: Folder 43  Small, Miriam R.                              1954                           (2 items)


1: Folder 44  Smith, Henry Nash                                     1954                           (2 items)

                                    and William M. Gibson


1: Folder 45  Society of the Colonial Wars       unknown                  (3 items)


1: Folder 46              Stauffacher, Jack Werner                        1951                           (3 items).


1: Folder 47  Stavig, Richard                               1953                           (4 items)


1: Folder 48  Sukel, Samuel                                 1954                           (3 items)


1: Folder 49  Williams, Gordon R.                                   1955                          (2 items)


1: Folder 50 Viking Press, The                           1950-1952                 (2 items)


1: Folder 51  Vincent, Howard Paton                1953                           (1 item)


1: Folder 52  Williams, Mentor L.                         1951                           (1 item)


1: Folder 53  Wilson, Carroll Atwood                 1947                           (1 item)


Chronological Correspondence


1: Folder 54  Incoming                                          unknown                 (10 items)


1: Folder 55  Incoming                                          1946-1947                 (3 items)


1: Folder 56  Incoming                                          1948-1949                 (2 items)


1: Folder 57 Incoming                                          1950-1951                 (7 items)


1: Folder 58  Incoming                                          1953                           (2 items)


1: Folder 59  Incoming                                          1954-1955                 (8 items)


1: Folder 60  Outgoing drafts by Leyda                        unknown                  (7 items, 9 letters)



Box 2: Film & Russian Studies Correspondence (19 Folders)


2: Folder 1                The American Scholar                  1946                           (1 item)


2: Folder 2                Bertensson, Sergei Lvovich                   1954-1955                 (3 items)


2: Folder 3                British Film Academy                    1949-1950                 (5 items)


2: Folder 4                Citizens Film Ltd                             1947                           (3 items)

& Preslit Literary Agency


2: Folder 5                Elton, Arthur                                                unknown                  (2 items)


2: Folder 6                George Allen & Unwin Ltd.          1949                           (3 items)


2: Folder 7                Harcourt, Brace                              1945                           (1 item)

                                    and Company, Inc.


2: Folder 8                Ivens, Joris, and Marion Michelle           1946                           (5 items)


2: Folder 9                Koch, Howard and Anne              1951 – unknown     (7 items)


2: Folder 10  Lerner, Irving                                   unknown                  (1 item)


2: Folder 11  Mahaska County                            1946                           (1 item)

                                    Community Theatre


2: Folder 12  Powers, R.M.                                               1955                           (1 item)


2: Folder 13  Rotha, Paul                                      1949                           (3 items)


2: Folder 14  Roucek, Joseph                             unknown                  (1 item)


2: Folder 15  Russian Research Center                       1953                           (1 item w/ enc)


2: Folder 16  Seton, Marie                                     1951-1952                 (10 items)


2: Folder 17  Souvaine Selective Pictures, Inc.          1952-1953                 (2 items)


2: Folder 18  Incoming, unknown correspondent 1946                               (1 item)


2: Folder 19  Outgoing draft                                 undated                    (1 item)


BOX 3: Dickinson Correspondence (37 Folders)


3: Folder 1                Amherst College                             1956                           (3 items)


3: Folder 2                Bingham, Millicent Todd              1954-1956                (28 items)


3: Folder 3                Bookstores/                                                 undated, 1954             (6 items)

                                    Booksellers & Collectors


3: Folder 4                Connecticut Valley                                    1954-1956                 (3 items)

                                    Historical Museum


3: Folder 5                DuPont, Marcella                            1955                           (2 items)


3: Folder 6                Haight, Gordon Sherman             1955                           (1 item)


3: Folder 7                Hampson, Mrs. Alfred Landis     1955                           (1 item)



3: Folder 8                Harcourt, Brace                              1951                          (1 item)

                                    & Company, Inc.


3: Folder 9                Harper & Brothers                         1954                           (1 item


3: Folder 10 Harvard University, Library of    1954                           (1 item)


3: Folder 11  Haverford College Library                       1954                           (1 item)


3: Folder 12  Johns Hopkins University                       1956                           (1 item)


3: Folder 13  Johnson, Thomas H.                                1953-1955                 (8 items)


3: Folder 14  Library of Congress                                  1954-1955                 (2 letters, 4 items)


3: Folder 15  Milwaukee County                                     1954                           (3 items)

Historical Society


3: Folder 16  New England Quarterly                undated                    (1 item)


3: Folder 17  New Republic                                              1954-1955                 (4 items)


3: Folder 18  Papers of Thomas Jefferson      1955                           (1 item)


3: Folder 19  Pohl, Frederick and Josephine undated, 1955         (3 items)


3: Folder 20  Providence Public Library                       1953-1954                 (1 item)


3: Folder 21  Seven Gables Bookshop                         undated, 1954-1955            (3 items)


3: Folder 22  Todd, Minister G. Hall                    1954-1955                 (8 items)


3: Folder 23  Trustees of Forbes Library                     1956                           (1 item)


3: Folder 24  University of California                 1953                           (1 item)


3: Folder 25  Van Boven, Alice                            1954                           (1 item)


3: Folder 26  Wadsworth re: photographs       1954                           (2 items)


3: Folder 27  Walter, Dorothy C.                          1954                           (1 item)


3: Folder 28  Ward, Theodora Van Wagenen 1954-1956                 (17 items)


3: Folder 29  Williams, Stanley T.                                   1954                           (2 items)


3: Folder 30  Williams, Mrs. Arthur L                  1953                           (1 item)

                                    (Theresa Wright Williams)


3: Folder 31  Yale University Press                    1955-1956                 (4 items)


3: Folder 32  Zermer, Louise Gray                      1954                           (2 items)


Chronological Correspondence


3: Folder 33  Incoming                                          undated                    (3 items)


3: Folder 34  Incoming                                          1953                           (2 items)


3: Folder 35  Incoming                                          1954                           (4 items, 5 letters)


3: Folder 36  Incoming                                          1955                           (3 items)


3: Folder 37  Outgoing drafts                              undated                    (3 items, 5 letters)



BOX 4: Personal Correspondence (15 Folders)


4: Folder 1                “A House to Be Born In,” regarding     1955                           (2 items)

                                    (Leyda’s essay in biography)


4: Folder 2                “Carl,” University of Maryland    1955                           (2 items)


4: Folder 3                Curley, Daniel                                  1954-1955                 (9 items)


4: Folder 4                Hendrickson, James and June  1951, 1955                (3 items)


4: Folder 5                Hooker, Helene                               undated, 1951         (2 items)


4: Folder 6                Leyda Family Correspondence  undated, 1952         (5 items)


4: Folder 7                Miscellaneous Friends                 undated, 1951-1954            (8 items)


4: Folder 8                Smith, Robert J. (Jack)                 1951                           (2 items*)

                                    * Also contains 3 outgoing

drafts on back.


4: Folder 9                Stallman, Robert Wooster                        undated                    (2 items)                                            and son, William


4: Folder 10  Whitmore, Stanford                                   1954-1955                 (3 items)


4: Folder 11  Writer’s Guild of America                         1956                           (1 item)


4: Folder 12  Yang, Gladys                                               undated, 1954-1955            (4 items)




4: Folder 13  Army Correspondence                 undated, 1944         (2 items)


4: Folder 14  Holiday Greetings                          1946-1955                 (11 items)

Cards & Announcements


4: Folder 15  Miscellaneous                                 1946-1954                 (5 items)



BOX 5: Herman Melville (13 Folders)


5: Folder 1                Melville Log Material                                              (11 subfolders; 54 items)       

5: Folder 2                Possible Melville Sources                                                (5 subfolders; 30 items)


5: Folder 3                Melville’s Lectures                                                 (3 subfolders; 3 items)


5: Folder 4                Reviews of Melville’s works                                            (2 subfolders; 11 items)


5: Folder 5                Melville Family History and Correspondence            (6 subfolders; 38 items)


5: Folder 6                Copies of Melville Texts                                       (4 subfolders; 4 items)


5: Folder 7                Melville Family: General                                        (21 subfolders; 31 items)


5: Folder 8                Melville Biography                                                 (11 subfolders; 17 items)


5: Folder 9                Melville’s Books and Papers                               (5 items)


5: Folder 10  Melville’s Literary Work                                        (12 subfolders; 29 items)


5: Folder 11  Leyda’s Research                                                  (14 subfolders; 20 items)


5: Folder 12  Books: Reviews, Sales                                         (5 subfolders; 7 items)


5: Folder 13  Melville Log Material not found in “Melville Log” folder      (1 item)



BOX 6: The Melville Log (9 folders)


6: Folder 1                Original file folder labeled “For the Log”


6: Folder 2                Organization of The Melville Log                                   (7 subfolders; 14 items)


6: Folder 3                Printing Process                                                    (10 subfolders; 15 items)


6: Folder 4                Melville in the South Pacific                                            (6 subfolders; 8 items)


6: Folder 5                Plates for The Melville Log                                              (4 items)


6: Folder 6                Articles on Melville                                                 (15 items)


6: Folder 7                Melville Society Newsletters                                           (21 items)


6: Folder 8                Copies of Herman Melville Correspondence  (16 subfolders; 31 items)


6: Folder 9                Various unrelated items found in The Melville Log folder (6 items)



BOX 7: Emily Dickinson, Russian Composers, including Sergei Rachmaninoff,

Sergei Eisenstein, Jay Leyda (4 folders)


7: Folder 1                Emily Dickinson                                                     (7 subfolders; 10 items)


7: Folder 2                Russian Film and Music                                       (3 subfolders; 23 items)


7: Folder 3                Personal and Business Papers                         (4 subfolders; 19 items)


7: Folder 4                Miscellaneous                                                         (8 subfolders; 151 items)
BOX 8: Odd size items: mostly research notes (4 folders)


8: Folder 1                Research and personal notes on 3x5 paper


8: Folder 2                Oversize Research notes on Melville Family


8: Folder 3                Notes and Library slips bundled in rubber bands


8: Folder 4                3x5 Accordion folder filled with notes



BOX 9: Offprints (22 folders)


9: Folder 1

[American Historical Association], Publishing the Papers of Great Men            1954   (1 item)


9: Folder 2

[Amherst Chamber of Commerce], Amherst, Massachusetts                                            (1 item)


9: Folder 3

Antiquarian Bookman                                                                                           1952   (2 items)


9: Folder 4

Bond, “Melville and Two Years Before the Mast”                                         1953   (1 item)


9: Folder 5

Boyce, “Modern Literary Manuscripts in the Morgan Library”                              1952   (1 item)


9: Folder 6

Butterfield, “George Lippard and his Secret Brotherhood”                                   1955   (1 item)


9: Folder 7

Cahoon, Herman Melville: A Checklist of Books and Manuscripts                      1951   (1 item)


9: Folder 8

[Corporation of Yaddo], Yaddo                                                                          1951   (1 item)


9: Folder 9

Dickinson Genealogy: on Mother’s Side                                                                                 (1 item)


9: Folder 10

Hillway, “Billy Budd: Melville’s Human Sacrifice”                                         1952   (1 item)


9: Folder 11

Johnson, “Emily Dickinson: Creating the Poems”                                       1953   (1 item)


9: Folder 12

Johnson, “Establishing a Text: The Emily Dickinson Papers”                 1952-1953     (1 item)


9: Folder 13

Leyda, “Another Friendly Critic for Melville”                                                  1954   (9 items)


9: Folder 14

Leyda, “The Engine Melville”                                                                             1953   (1 item)



9: Folder 15

Paltsits, Family Correspondence of Herman Melville, 1830-1904             1909   (1 item)


9: Folder 16

Todd, Witchcraft in New England                                                                                  1906   (1 item)


9: Folder 17

Wadsworth, Politics in Religion                                                                         1854   (1 item)


9: Folder 18

Wadsworth, Development and Discipline                                                                   1857   (1 item)


9: Folder 19

Wadsworth, A Mother’s Sorrow                                                                         1864   (1 item)


9: Folder 20

Wadsworth, Self-Knowledge                                                                              1860   (1 item)


9: Folder 21

Wadsworth, God’s Culture. A Thanksgiving Sermon                                              1860   (1 item)


9: Folder 22

Ward, “Emily Dickinson and T. W. Higginson”                                                          1953   (1 item)



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Greg Lennes Melvillean Solar Eclipse: From Clarel: A Poem and Pilgrimage in the Holy Land (1876) - 3.5.60-65 "This change, this dusking change that slips (Like the penumbra o'er the sun), Over the faith transmitted down; Foreshadows it complete eclipse?" Footnote: "The "penumbra" is the Earth's shadow that falls upon the moon during a lunar eclipse, but Melville here is applying the term to a solar eclipse." (From "Herman Melville: Stargazer" By Brett Zimmerman) The first photo of a total solar eclipse, shown here, was a daguerreotype by the Prussian photographer Johann Julius Friedrich Berkowski. (July 28, 1851 - same year that Moby-Dick was published) :) 2017-08-19T15:30:17+0000
Greg Lennes Review: The Eleventh International Melville Society Conference (June 27 - June 30, 2017) by Hannah Murray.
Review: The Eleventh International Melville Society ConferenceKings College London Organised around the focus of ‘Melville’s crossings’, the event covered the breadth and depth of Melville studies and paid close attention to Melville’s dialogues with philosophy and aesthetic theo…
Colin Dewey All members of the Melville Society receive three print issues of our award-winning journal, Leviathan, per year. With membership rates beginning at only $25 this is an incredible bargain.
Leviathan: A Journal of Melville Studies | JHU Press EditorSamuel Otter, University of California, Berkeley Steven Olsen-Smith, Leviathan PODCAST: Steven Olsen-Smith, Leviathan Leviathan features a bounty of scholarly articles, notes, reviews, and creative writing of a critical, theoretical, cultural, or historical nature on the impressive body of wor...
Eileen Valentino Flaxman MOBY DICK - Ch. 16 – THE SHIP is about everything being ready for sail: the crew is on board, the larder is stocked. But no Captain Ahab. For days, the men are in limbo, waiting for their captain to arrive . . . A ship in the harbor a ship not at sea is no ship at all, strange and solitary. A ship with no captain, not anywhere seen is not yet alive but mere joints and beams. But when sails unfurl and Ahab walks the deck and the salt spray stings the back of my neck Then the Pequod will reign and come into its own With the ocean its kingdom and the waves its throne.
Greg Lennes From Providence Journal: The Berkshire County Historical Society's annual hike up Monument Mountain on August 6th:
Annual Berkshires hike marks a literary moment A visit to western Massachusetts includes a stop at Monument Mountain and Arrowhead, the home of the great author Herman Melville.
Greg Lennes Melvillean Trivia: October Mountain Shelter along the Massachusetts Appalachian Trail is said to have been named by Melville, who wrote “One fine morning I sallied forth upon the errand I had much ado finding the best road to the shanty. No one seemed to know where it was exactly. It lay in a very lonely part of the country, a densely wooded mountain on one side (which I call October Mountain on account of its bannered aspect in that month), and a thicketed swamp on the other.” (From his short story - COCK-A-DOODLE-DOO ! OR THE CROWING OF THE NOBLE COCK BENEVENTANO" - 1853). Here is the present shelter in the October Mountain State Forest:
October Mountain Shelter October Mountain Shelter
Colin Dewey Note to members: The Melville Society will now be communicating with members via email rather than snail mail. The Executive Committee has chosen "Survey Monkey" as our platform for official polling and elections, so we will no longer send paper ballots. Please accept Survey Monkey messages from the Melville Society and make sure when you renew your Society membership that your email and postal mailing addresses are up to date. If you have opted-out of Survey Monkey emails in the past you will not receive ballot or election materials. To opt-in visit Note that this not affect our journal, Leviathan, which you will continue to receive just as you have been. Thank you!
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Colin Dewey Visit to learn about the society and membership.
Home A society dedicated to the study and appreciation of the nineteenth-century American author Herman Melville
Colin Dewey Established in 1947, the Melville Society is one of the largest international single-author societies, dedicated to the study of the life and works of Herman Melville, and their cultural impact since the nineteenth century. The organization enjoys the fellowship of scholars, artists, teachers, writers, readers, and enthusiasts throughout the world. All members receive our award-winning journal Leviathan, which is published three times a year by Johns Hopkins University Press, and offers scholarly articles, book and art reviews, Society news, and Melville-related current events. With subscriptions starting at just $25 per year, our membership remains an incredible bargain. To join, or learn more, go to:

From Our Photo Collections

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Fellowships and Scholarships

Melville Society Archive
Walter E. Bezanson Fellowship
The Melville Society, under the auspices of the Melville Society Cultural Project in New Bedford, offers an annual fellowship to help a scholar undertake research on Herman Melville at the Society’s Archive in the Research Library of the Whaling Museum in New Bedford, Massachusetts.


Click here for more information and application details.


New York Public Library
Short-term Research Fellowships


Graduate students or other affiliated academics whose work would benefit from visiting the Manuscripts and Archives Division to view collections such as the Gansevoort-Lansing collection, and Duyckinck family papers are encouraged to apply.


Click here for more information and application details.

Woodlawn Cemetary

WoodlawnWoodlawn Cemetary - final resting place of Herman, his wife, Elizabeth, and other family members. Click here to view photos of the gravesites.


125th Anniversary Celebration

125th Woodlawn

A celebration of Melville's life at Woodlawn Cemetary on the 125th anniversary of his passing.

Lansingburgh Historical Society

Melville House

Melville lived for nine years in this Lansingburgh house. It was here that he wrote Typee and Omoo

Berkshire Historical Society

ArrowheadMelville's Arrowhead home and farm in Pittsfield, MA where he wrote Moby-Dick and lived for most of the 1850s.