Critical Insights: Herman Melville

Critical Insights Series

The series focuses on an individual author's entire body of work, a single work of literature, or a literary theme.

At a Glance
  • 1 Volume; 300 Pages
  • 10-14 essays offering Current Critical Analysis by Top Literary Scholars
  • Introductory Essay by the Editor
  • Chronology of Author's Life
  • Complete List of Author's Works
  • Publication Dates of Works
  • Detailed Bio of the Editor
  • General Bibliography
  • General Subject Index
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Edited by Robert C. Evans

Melville’s novel explores the fascinating world of whale-hunting in the mid-nineteenth century, even as it also explores some of the most perennial questions about the purposes and meanings of life.

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Editor: Eric Carl Link, University of Memphis
October 2012 · 1 volume · 300 pages · 6"x9"

Includes Online Database with Print Purchase
ISBN: 978-1-4298-3726-2
# of Pages: 300
# of Volumes: 1
Print List Price: $105
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e-ISBN: 978-1-4298-3774-3
eBook Single User Price: $105

A great starting point for students seeking an introduction to Melville and the critical discussions surrounding his work.

"Call me Ishmael," begins Melville's most famous novel, Moby Dick. Like much of the Melville's writing, it's a deceptively simple line, a seemingly transparent surface that opens into dark oceans of meaning. And like many of Melville's novels, what follows is an incredible tale of madness, obsession, and disaster rife with metaphysical symbolism. Though neglected for decades after his death, today Melville stands as one of America's preeminent writers.

Edited by Eric Carl Link, Professor of English at the University of Memphis, this volume in the Critical Insights series presents a variety of new essays on the American writer. For readers who are studying Melville for the first time, a biographical sketch relates the details of her life and four essays survey the critical reception of Melville's work, explore its cultural and historical contexts, situate Melville among his contemporaries, and review key themes in his work. Readers seeking a deeper understanding of the writer can then move on to other essays that explore topics like Melville's symbolism, metaphysics, and aesthetics; his views on faith and religion; his responses to the issues of his day, like slavery, industrialization, and American democracy. Works discussed include Typee, Omoo, Moby Dick, Pierre, The Confidence Man, and Billy Bud as well as commonly studied selections of Melville's poetry. Among the contributors are Wyn Kelley, John Wenke, Steven Frye, and John Samson.

Rounding out the volume are a chronology of Melville's life and a list of his principal publications as well as a bibliography for readers seeking to study this fascinating author in greater depth.

Each essay is 2,500 to 5,000 words in length, and all essays conclude with a list of "Works Cited," along with endnotes. Finally, the volume's appendixes offer a section of useful reference resources:

A chronology of the author's life
A complete list of the author's works and their original dates of publication
A general bibliography
A detailed paragraph on the volume's editor
Notes on the individual chapter authors
A subject index