Herman Melville: An Introduction (Blackwell Introductions to by Wyn Kelley

By Wyn Kelley

This exact advent explores Herman Melville as he defined himself in Billy Budd-"a author whom few know." relocating past the ordinary depiction of Melville because the well-known writer of Moby-Dick, this booklet lines his improvement as a author whereas offering the elemental instruments for profitable serious examining of his novels. bargains a short creation to Melville, overlaying all his significant works Showcases Melville's writing strategy via his correspondence with Nathaniel Hawthorne presents a transparent feel of Melville's significant topics and preoccupations makes a speciality of Typee, Moby-Dick, and Billy Budd in person chapters contains a biography, precis of key works, interpretation, statement, and an intensive bibliography.

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But the slight glimpse sufficed; my eyes fell upon the disordered members of a human skeleton, the bones still fresh with moisture, and with particles of flesh clinging to them here and there! (p. 238) Tommo’s horror at the spectacle of human meat is rendered forcefully and provides a critical turning point in the story, as he imagines that he has seen evidence to support his fears of the villagers’ cannibalism. Whether Melville is describing something he saw, read, or imagined, his “invention” of Taipi cannibalism has a powerful effect on the narrative, once again stressing the elastic fibers of the yarn.

The celebrity of Typee and Omoo led him to attempt the even more ambitious Mardi, an innovative hybrid of adventure, travel, and philosophical romance that shows the influence of his reading great English and European authors. When Mardi failed to earn positive reviews, Melville returned to more sober attempts at autobiographical fiction, but he never abandoned his romantic ambitions, and Redburn and White-Jacket, though far more restrained, show his eager response to philosophy and literature, even as they maintain a certain grave social realism.

They were too useful, not only for “substantiating” his flights of imagination and fancy, but also for providing foils to his own playful manipulations of information. Melville’s sensitive response to sources went well beyond the factual, historical, and encyclopedic sources he loved. He also depended on 17 Introduction works of fiction, drama, and poetry. Along with the bizarre husband Wakefield, for example, he may also have had in mind certain memorable female characters in Hawthorne’s novels: Hester Prynne, Zenobia, and Hepzibah, all of whom, like Agatha, exhibit extraordinary devotion to weak and errant men.

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