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Herman Melville Autograph Letter Signed

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Herman Melville Autograph Letter Signed
Item Details
Description
ALS signed “H. Melville,” one page, 4.75 x 8, December 11, [1887?]. Handwritten letter to author and editor Rossiter Johnson, in full: "Yours of the 9th is received.—Your friendly proposition I must decline. And this—in part at least—from a sense of incompetence. For I am unpracticed in a kind of writing that exacts so much heedfulness—heedfulness, I mean, of a sort not demanded in some other departments." In fine condition.



The text of this letter is collected in the Northwest-Newbury edition of The Writings of Herman Melville: Correspondence, edited by Lynn Horth, which notes: 'The long career of Edwin Rossiter Johnson (1840-1931) as a prolific editor of encyclopedias, dictionaries, abridged classics, and anthologies (including Melville's piece 'The Bell-Tower' in the third volume, 'Tragedy' [1875] of his Little Classics…together with implications in this letter, make it likely that Melville was replying to a 9 December invitation to write something for such a work. Although this letter cannot be dated exactly, Davis and Gilman reported that it was written on the same paper as that of Melville's 9 January 1888 letter to Edmund C. Stedman. If so, this letter probably refers either to Appletons' Cyclopaedia of American Biography, for which Johnson was managing editor…or Appletons' Annual Cyclopaedia, of which Johnson was sole editor between 1883 and 1902.'



By this point in his career, Melville's literary efforts were focused almost entirely on poetic fiction—a mode entirely dissimilar from the compressed, fact-based style of the attentive encyclopedia entry.
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Herman Melville Autograph Letter Signed

Estimate $20,000 - $25,000
Oct 12, 2022
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Starting Price $1,000
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0357: Herman Melville Autograph Letter Signed
Est. $20,000 - $25,000Starting Price $1,000
Fine Autographs and Artifacts Featuring Art
Oct 12, 2022 4:00 PM EDT
Buyer's Premium 25%
Lot 0357 Details
Description
...
ALS signed “H. Melville,” one page, 4.75 x 8, December 11, [1887?]. Handwritten letter to author and editor Rossiter Johnson, in full: "Yours of the 9th is received.—Your friendly proposition I must decline. And this—in part at least—from a sense of incompetence. For I am unpracticed in a kind of writing that exacts so much heedfulness—heedfulness, I mean, of a sort not demanded in some other departments." In fine condition.



The text of this letter is collected in the Northwest-Newbury edition of The Writings of Herman Melville: Correspondence, edited by Lynn Horth, which notes: 'The long career of Edwin Rossiter Johnson (1840-1931) as a prolific editor of encyclopedias, dictionaries, abridged classics, and anthologies (including Melville's piece 'The Bell-Tower' in the third volume, 'Tragedy' [1875] of his Little Classics…together with implications in this letter, make it likely that Melville was replying to a 9 December invitation to write something for such a work. Although this letter cannot be dated exactly, Davis and Gilman reported that it was written on the same paper as that of Melville's 9 January 1888 letter to Edmund C. Stedman. If so, this letter probably refers either to Appletons' Cyclopaedia of American Biography, for which Johnson was managing editor…or Appletons' Annual Cyclopaedia, of which Johnson was sole editor between 1883 and 1902.'



By this point in his career, Melville's literary efforts were focused almost entirely on poetic fiction—a mode entirely dissimilar from the compressed, fact-based style of the attentive encyclopedia entry.
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