Call Me Ishmael / Edition 1

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Overview

First published in 1947, this acknowledged classic of American literary criticism explores the influences—especially Shakespearean ones—on Melville's writing of Moby-Dick. One of the first Melvilleans to advance what has since become known as the "theory of the two Moby-Dicks," Olson argues that there were two versions of Moby-Dick, and that Melville's reading King Lear for the first time in between the first and second versions of the book had a profound impact on his conception of the saga: "the first book did not contain Ahab," writes Olson, and "it may not, except incidentally, have contained Moby-Dick." If literary critics and reviewers at the time responded with varying degrees of skepticism to the "theory of the two Moby-Dicks," it was the experimental style and organization of the book that generated the most controversy.

Johns Hopkins University Press

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Editorial Reviews

New York Herald Tribune

Not only important, but apocalyptic.

San Francisco Chronicle

One of the most stimulating essays ever written on Moby Dick, and for that matter on any piece of literature, and the forces behind it.

New York Times
Olson has been a tireless student of Melville and every Melville lover owes him a debt for his Scotland Yard pertinacity in getting on the trail of Melville's dispersed library.

— Lewis Mumford

New York Times - Lewis Mumford

Olson has been a tireless student of Melville and every Melville lover owes him a debt for his Scotland Yard pertinacity in getting on the trail of Melville's dispersed library.

George Mayberry
The most important contribution to Melville criticism since Raymond Weaver's pioneering contribution in 1921. -- New Republic
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780801857317
  • Publisher: Hopkins Fulfillment Service
  • Publication date: 10/19/1997
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 168
  • Sales rank: 1,015,861
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 0.39 (d)

Meet the Author

Charles Olson (1910-1970), an avant garde poet, literary critic, and literary theorist, is the author of The Maximus Poems, The Distances, The Human Universe and Other Essays, and In Cold Hell, in Thicket.

Johns Hopkins University Press

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Table of Contents

Fact 1 Prologue 3
Part I Fact
Call me Ishmael 11
What Lies Under 16
Usufruct 26
Part II Source: Shakespeare
The Discovery of Moby-Dick 35
American Shiloh 41
Man, to Man 44
King Lear 47
A Moby-Dick Manuscript 52
Captain Ahab and His Fool 59
The Act 64
Fact 2 Dromenon 77
Part III The Book of the Law of the Blood 81
Part IV Loss: Christ 89
A Last Fact 109
Part V The Conclusion: Pacific Man 113
Afterword: On Olson and Melville 121
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