From Today in Literature, the introduction:
On this day in 1851, Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick was published. The British edition, entitled The Whale, had appeared the previous month, but through a sequence of error, poor judgment and bad timing, it had a rearranged and incomplete ending. This set off another sequence of error, poor judgment and bad timing, this time involving not the publishers but the critics, who looked upon the botched ending as the last straw in a book already too unusual and obscure. The upshot was that Melville’s masterpiece, the book he was counting on to rescue his reputation and his finances, was so belittled and slandered in the crucial first weeks following publication in America that it never had a chance.