DA NI EL DI EZ C OU C H United States Air Force Academy In August 1831 a young Herman Melville received an academic award from his school, the Albany Academy. To commemorate his achievement, the prin- cipal gave him a book called The London Carcanet: Containing Select Passages from the Most Distinguished Writers (1831). The London Carcanet consisted of a collection of extracts from the writings of famous authors throughout literary history, including John Dryden, Laurence Sterne, Lord Byron, Sir Walter Scott, and Washington Irving, and it functioned like a treasury, an anthology, or a book of beauties. The inside cover still contains a label from the Albany Academy addressed to Melville, which states his accomplishment: “To Her- man Melville The ﬁrst best in his class in—”; the remaining words are rubbed out. Thanks to a newspaper announcement published in the same year, Her- shel Parker informs us that the missing, illegible words form the phrase “ciphering books,” and the outlines left behind conﬁrm that information. The scratched-out words on the blank are rubbed so much that a reader can see the pale green of the endpaper underneath, and the page raises the ques- tion of why Melville,
Early American Studies: An Interdisciplinary Journal – University of Pennsylvania Press
Published: Nov 5, 2018
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