Herman Melville: 10 quotes on his birthday

Herman Melville, the American author best known for the masterpiece,"Moby-Dick," was born on August 1, 1819, in New York City. Melville lost his father in 1832, and began working in the family business with his older brother. Melville began writing in the mid 1830s, but because of the family’s tight financial circumstances, he was not able to focus on it. When the family business went bankrupt, Melville’s older brother arranged for him to work aboard the merchant ship, St. Lawrence, as a cabin boy in 1839. Melville traveled on the ship from New York City to Liverpool, England. Afterward, Melville continued working on ships for a number of years and, in doing so, traveled to a number of exotic destinations. His first novel, "Typee"  (1846), is a romanticized account of one of his voyages to French Polynesia. When Melville returned to his family in 1844, he found that the family’s finances had improved. After his older brother died unexpectedly, Melville took on full responsibility for supporting the family with his writing. However, Melville faced a cooling reception for his work as he continued to write."Moby-Dick," published in 1851, received little attention. When he was only 33, facing a failed career, Melville was driven to the point of a near mental breakdown. Melville gave up fiction for poetry, but did not receive much acclaim. Although he was to become one of the most celebrated American writers by the end of the 1940s, Melville never received the recognition he sought during his lifetime.  

1. Comprehension is more than words

Photo: Library of congress, Joseph O. Eaton and an unknown etcher

"A man thinks that by mouthing hard words he understands hard things."

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Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.

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