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The White Jacket written by Herman Melville (best known for his classic whaling novel) was first published in 1850 and is considered to be a semi-biographical book, written from Melville's own personal experiences while returning home to the Atlantic Coast from the South Seas with the American Navy on a man-o-war vessel. In the note preceding the novel, Melville states, "In the year 1843 I shipped as 'ordinary seaman' on board of a United States frigate then lying in a harbor of the Pacific Ocean. After remaining in this frigate for more than a year, I was discharged from the service ..."
Herman Melville (1819 - 1891) was an American novelist, short story writer and poet of the American Renaissance period. His best known works include Typee (1846), a romantic account of his experiences in Polynesian life and his whaling novel Moby-Dick (1851). His work was almost forgotten during his last thirty years. His writing draws on his experience at sea as a common sailor, exploration of literature and philosophy and engagement in the contradictions of American society in a period of rapid change. He developed a complex, baroque style: the vocabulary is rich and original, a strong sense of rhythm infuses the elaborate sentences, the imagery is often mystical or ironic and the abundance of allusion extends to Scripture, myth, philosophy, literature and the visual arts.