Title: The Fiddler by Herman Melville
Date Read: 31 August 2009
Available Online?: YES (as one of the stories posted by Harper Perennial on their website Fifty-Two Stories, which promises a new (or classic) short story from their collection, posted every week throughout 2009).
Briefly: The Fiddler tells the tale of Helmstone, a poet, who having just delivered a failed performance, enjoys his first encounter with a charismatic fellow named Hautboy. Helmstone is instantly taken by Hautboy, not least because of the honesty and pure cheerfulness he exudes. The story really gets going when Helmstone’s friend Standard (the one who introduced Hautboy to him in the first place), begins to probe Helmstone to see if he can spot any mark of genius in his new acquaintance.
Afterthoughts: All in all a nice little tale, although nothing particularly outstanding or memorable as far as plot goes. The real pleasure in this story comes from digesting Melville’s eloquent prose. It takes a few sentences to get used to his style of writing, but once one does the reading pleasure is quite remarkable.
Notable Quote: “…In a man of forty I saw a boy of twelve; and this too without the slightest abatement of my respect. Because all was so honest and natural, every expression and attitude so graceful with genuine good-nature, that the marvelous juvenility of Hautboy assumed a sort of divine and immortal air, like that of some forever youthful god of Greece.”
*Story read as part of my 100 Shots of Short reading challenge.