Friday, February 23, 2007

Reading a Google scanned copy from Harvard College Library, Lamont Library (1949)

White-Jacket is a novel by Herman Melville, first published in 1850. Subtitled The World in a Man of War, it is a fictionalized account of his time as a sailor on the USS United States from 1843 to 1844. The novel is highly critical of the captain of the United States and of naval customs in general. The mixture of journalism and fiction, the presentation of a sequence of striking characters, the metaphor of a sailing ship as the world in miniature, all prefigure his next novel Moby-Dick, published in 1851. Characters include Jack Chase and Captain Claret. Additionally, Melville's publisher placed a copy of "White-Jacket" on every desk in Congress, sending a clear message that this book is very politically outspoken and champions various causes. Melville's work directly influenced the decision made by Congress to ban flogging in the navy.

Source: White Jacket - encyclopedia article about White Jacket.

Should we send copies to Congress? No flogging without representation.

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