After Melville published this, his greatest work, at the age of 32, his career and his health started a steep decline. Nothing he published thereafter gained much notice and soon he developed recurrent attacks of eye pain, disabling low back pain and possibly, bipolar affective disorder and alcoholism, although that’s not what we called those maladies at the time. Biographers have suggested that these ailments were psychosomatic, but his doctors reported abnormally rigid posture, loss of almost an inch and a half of height between the ages of 30 and 37, and possibly what we now categorize as ankylosing spondylitis, an inflammatory disease that can cause some of the vertebrae to fuse together. There were other distressing symptoms. And yet, with all this, folks who knew him quietly suggested to each other that Melville had simply gone batshit crazy.