Sheer Apprehension of the World

 It reads like journalism. It seems spurious. You feel Melville is trying to put something over you. He preaches and holds forth because he’s not sure of himself. But he was a deep, great artist. He was a real American in that he always felt his audience in front of him. But when he ceases to be American, when he forgets all audience, and gives us his sheer apprehension of the world, then he is wonderful, his book commands a stillness in the soul, an awe.

From an essay by D.H. Lawrence on Herman Melville’s Moby Dick, first published in Studies in Classic American Literature in 1923

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