Two Years Before the Mast Author:Richard Henry Dana As a classic of the sea, "Two Years before the Mast" can be challenged only by Melville's "Moby Dick". Melville was himself the first to acknowledge the influence of his "sea-brother" and his superiority in factual description of the real life of a seaman under sail and before the mast. It was Dana who suggested that Melville should write "Moby ... more »Dick" to probe the mysteries of the ocean, and Dana again who advised him to write "White Jacket" as the counterpart, for life in the Navy, of Dana's "two years" in merchant ships.
In writing "Two Years before the Mast", it can truly be said that this proper Bostonian "adhered closely to fact in every particular, and endeavoured to give everything its true character." He has given the truth with such imaginative insight that it adds the interest of romantic fiction to the persuasive force of solid fact.