How does one become a great American novelist? Herman Melville is unquestionably one, and his 1851 masterpiece, Moby-Dick, appears on every short list of great books. Melville completed Moby-Dick while at Arrowhead, his farm in Pittsfield, where he and his family lived from 1850 to 1863. For those of us who live and work in Berkshire County and who are intensely proud that Melville was once “one of us,” this is huge!
Melville came to the Berkshires supplied with a wealth of experience to supply him with the inspiration and background for his early works of fiction. But there is a complex relationship between people and the places where they live and work.
Power of Place explores the impact the Berkshires had on Melville during his most productive years, and while doing so, Marianna Poutasse serves up a very practical purpose. The Berkshires’ cultural attractions, museums and historic sites are internationally recognized. Tourists have their interest piqued by visits to Arrowhead, the Melville Memorial Room at the Berkshire Athenaeum, and other locales in Berkshire County that influenced Melville during his stay here. However they have not had the opportunity to purchase an affordable companion piece to supplement their visits. This long-overdue publication is an exciting addition to the history of Pittsfield, and an important resource not only for tourists, but students and Melville scholars as well.
- Ron Latham, Library Director, Berkshire Athenaeum