This volume discusses Herman Melville, one of America's preeminent writers. Essays include a brief biography, a discussion of the critical reception of his work, his views on faith and religion, and his responses to the issues of his day. Works discussed include Moby-Dick, The Confidence Man, and Billy Bud, as well as selected poems. 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.
1.Career, Life, and Influence
For readers who are studying Melville for the first time, a biographical sketch relates the details of his life.
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. Each essay is 2,500 to 5,000 words in length, and all essays conclude with a list of "Works Cited," along with endnotes.
The volume's appendices offer a section of useful reference resources, including:
- 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