A Rejection Letter for Moby Dick [Letter]

March 1, 2017

On tonight's podcast, we'll be looking at a rejection letter written by Peter Bentley of Bentley and Son's Publishing House, to one Herman Melville, on the subject of Moby Dick.

This is one of those time where you wish there was an alternate reality where Peter had gotten his way.

Because if he did, there would a version of Moby Dick out there with no whales and a lot of voluptuous, young maidens.

Peter also didn't like all the messy talk of religion, unless it was about Lutherans, which I guess didn't count.

While Peter passed on the book it was ultimately Richard Bentley, of the same Publishing House, who accepted Melville's manuscript in 1851. While most of Peter's revisions didn't make the cut, the British edition of the book is notable for having about 1200 words missing, because they were deemed sacrilegious.

Interestingly, a number of "sexually explicit" passages were also excised, which most have been a real bee in Peter's bonnet.

This letter is the story of the intersection of art and commerce, and a great example of why not every well meaning suggestion, is one you should take.

I hope you enjoy.

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