The Cambridge Introduction to Herman Melville

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Overview

Despite its indifferent reception when it was first published in 1851, Moby-Dick is now central to the American literary canon. This introduction sets out the key themes, contexts, and critical reception of Melville's entire oeuvre. Kevin J. Hayes provides comprehensive information about Melville's life and works in an accessible and engaging book that will be essential for students beginning to read this important author. This book covers: Life, Contexts, Works, Reception.
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Meet the Author

Kevin J. Hayes is Professor of English at the University of Central Oklahoma.

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Table of Contents


Preface     ix
List of abbreviations     xi
Life     1
Contexts     12
The existential context     12
The historical context     13
The urban context     14
The visual context     16
The psychological context     19
The American context     20
The context of labor     21
The context of slavery     22
The world context     23
The imaginative context     23
Writings     25
The faces of Types     27
Omoo: the rover as flaneur     33
Becoming a great writer: Mardi, Redburn, White-Jacket     39
Confronting Moby-Dick     46
Pierre: the making of a tragic hero     60
Private letters     67
Rewriting history: Israel Potter and "Benito Cereno"     74
Modern man: "The Lightning-Rod Man," The Confidence-Man, "Bartleby, the Scrivener"     81
Battle-Pieces: the voices of war     87
Clarel, an American epic     92
The return to prose: Burgundy Club sketches, John Marr     99
Billy Budd: visions and revisions     105
Reception     112
Notes     124
Guide to further reading     130
Index     135
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