Documentary Note on Melville's Marginalia in Arthur Schopenhauer's Counsels and Maxims

Herman Melville likely obtained this copy of Arthur Schopenhauer's Counsels and Maxims at some time after 5 February 1891, the date he borrowed a copy of the same edition from the New York Society Library, returning that copy on 12 February. Although he did not autograph or date the present copy and could have acquired it earlier in 1890 (the year of publication), his act of borrowing the library's copy indicates that he did not possess the book at that time. The book was one among several of Schopenhauer's works acquired concertedly by Melville in the final years of his life, including Studies in Pessimism, Religion: A Dialogue, The Wisdom of Life and The World as Will and Idea (Sealts Nos. 445-448). All of the copies of Schopenhauer owned by Melville remained within the Melville family following his death in 1891 and were among books donated to Harvard College Library by Melville's descendants in the late 1930s and early 1940s.

An annotation in the hand of Melville's wife Elizabeth (wholly or partly) appears on p. 33 of the copy, in the essay "Our Relation to Ourselves," and marginalia on pp. 36 and 45 of that essay are also more characteristic of her style of marking than Melville's. Lightly inscribed pencil ticks on p. 121 of the copy may also be in her hand. All other marginalia in this copy of Counsels and Maxims correspond to Melville's characteristic patterns of marking and are attributed to him in the apparatus to this edition.

Publication: 2014, Melville's Marginalia Online. First transcribed in full by Walker Cowen, Melville's Marginalia, 2 vols., Harvard Dissertations in American and English Literature (New York: Garland, 1987), 2:308-311 (Cowen's dissertation was completed in 1965).

Selected studies that cite this copy: F. O. Matthiessen, American Renaissance: Art and Expression in the Age of Emerson and Whitman (New York, NY: Oxford UP, 1941). William B. Dillingham, Melville and His Circle: The Last Years (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1996).

Visualization Support