Trade Paper – $22.95

ISBN 978-0-8101-2540-7
Publication Date
August 2008
Page Count
499 pages
Trim Size


A Poem and Pilgrimage in the Holy Land
Herman Melville

Melville's long poem Clarel: A Poem and Pilgrimage in the Holy Land (1876) was the last full-length book he published. Until the mid-twentieth century even the most partisan of Melville’s advocates hesitated to endure a four-part poem of 150 cantos and almost 18,000 lines, about a naive American named Clarel, on pilgrimage through the Palestinian ruins with a provocative cluster of companions.


But modern critics have found Clarel a much better poem than was ever realized. Robert Penn Warren called it a precursor of The Waste Land. It abounds with revelations of Melville's inner life. Most strikingly, it is argued that the character Vine is a portrait of Melville’s friend Nathaniel Hawthorne. Clarel is one of the most complex theological explorations of faith and doubt in all of American literature, and this edition brings Melville’s poem to new life.

About the Author

Herman Melville (1819–91) was an American novelist, short-story writer, poet, and essayist. Melville toiled at various times as a sailor, banker, teacher and finally as a customs inspector. His novels include Typee, Omoo, and White Jacket, all published in authoritative editions by Northwestern University Press. He died in relative obscurity at the age of 72.


Hershel Parker, H. Fletcher Brown Professor Emeritus at the University of Delaware, General Editor of the Northwestern-Newberry Edition of the writings of Herman Melville. His publications include Flawed Texts and Verbal Icons, Reading "Billy Budd,” and the 1995 edition of Melville's Pierre, or, The Ambiguities, illustrated by Maurice Sendak. He is also the author of Herman Melville: A Biography, 1819–1851 and Herman Melville: A Biography, 1851–1891, the first volume a Pulitzer finalist and each the winner of the highest award from the Association of American Publishers' Professional/Scholarly Publishing Division.