In Moby Dick there is a long chapter that is meant to be an excerpt from a textbook on whales. Did Melville compose that or was it actually copied from a textbook on whales?
- Thomas Beale, who wrote The Natural History of the Sperm Whale
- Frederick Debell Bennett, who wrote the Narrative of a Whaling Voyage Round the Globe
Both were surgeons on whaling ships, and wrote of the anatomy of whales. They, and Melville as well, further relied upon the writings of the great naturalist John Hunter, especially his Observations on the Structure and Oeconomy of Whales.
Wikipedia has an image of Melville's copy of Beale's book: