Herman Melville began his literary career as the author of popular, presumably ephemeral works. He employed fiction for its entertainment value and, though he was a storyteller of genius, had no respect for the fictional mode. His view of authorship changed and his ambitions expanded over time, but his basic distrust of, and lack of interest in, fiction remained constant—may even have grown stronger—in his works. He accepted an Emersonian view of fiction as an impediment to the direct utterance of truth and found the requirements of fiction—story, character, point of view—a limitation and a distortion of the absolute expression for which he strove. Melville’s impatience with, and lack of regard for, the mode of fiction can be traced through his works from 1846 to 1857, after which he ceased to write for a large public.