For the whole-hearted enthusiast of the great American writer who has more likely been confused than enlightened by the reams of interpretative biographies and studies which of late years have dotted publishers' lists, here is a two-volumed gold mine of factual source material. Mr. Leyda has conducted a one-man attack on libraries, archives and private collections and comes up with just about all extant documentary material pertaining to Melville's life. Chronologically arranged, here are excerpts from various diaries of the Melville-Shaw-Gansevoort families, contemporaries' criticisms of the books and short stories, bills of deed and sale, letters, etc. Not complete--nor will it ever be, for the pall of burned letters, etc. hangs heavy over certain of the more obscure periods of Melville's life--this is still the best, most complete collection of documentary evidence on Melville's life to be published to date.