Herman Melville: An Introduction

Overview

This unique introduction explores Herman Melville as he described himself in Billy Budd - "a writer whom few know." Moving beyond the recurring depiction of Melville as the famous author of Moby-Dick, this book traces his development as a writer while providing the basic tools for successful critical reading of his novels. Using the extraordinary "Agatha" correspondence with Nathaniel Hawthorne as a key to Melville's writing practices, beliefs, and inclinations, the volume introduces Melville as a writer who ...
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Overview

This unique introduction explores Herman Melville as he described himself in Billy Budd - "a writer whom few know." Moving beyond the recurring depiction of Melville as the famous author of Moby-Dick, this book traces his development as a writer while providing the basic tools for successful critical reading of his novels. Using the extraordinary "Agatha" correspondence with Nathaniel Hawthorne as a key to Melville's writing practices, beliefs, and inclinations, the volume introduces Melville as a writer who constantly reflected on his craft and experimented with new forms and genres.

Arranged chronologically, the volume focuses on Typee, Moby-Dick, and Billy Budd, as well as other novels, short fiction, and poems, to explore Melville's distinctive narrative style. A biography, summaries of key works, interpretation, commentary, and an extensive bibliography are all included.

About the Author:
Wyn Kelley is a Senior Lecturer in the Literature Faculty at MIT

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“In Herman Melville: An Introduction, Wyn Kelley offers new and sharp insights as well as the basics of Melville studies in a thoroughly engaging voice for all readers, undergraduate and above.”
John Bryant, Hofstra University
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Product Details

Meet the Author

Wyn Kelley is a Senior Lecturer in the Literature Faculty at MIT. She is the author of Melville's City: Literary and Urban Form in Nineteenth-Century New York (1996) and editor of A Companion to Herman Melville (Blackwell, 2006) and an edition of Benito Cereno 2006, and has also written a number of essays on Melville. She is Associate Editor of the Melville Society journal Leviathan.
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Table of Contents

Texts and Abbreviations     ix
List of Illustrations     x
Acknowledgments     xi
Preface     xiii
Introduction     1
Melville's Life     3
"Agatha" and the Invention of Narrative     12
Melville's Early Yarns     25
"Making Literary Use of the Story": Typee and Omoo     27
"A Regular Story Founded on Striking Incidents": Mardi, Redburn, and White-Jacket     42
Writing New Gospel in Moby-Dick and Pierre     55
"So Much of Pathos & So Much of Depth": Moby-Dick     57
"All Tender Obligations": Pierre     83
Turning a New Leaf: Short Fiction, Israel Potter, and The Confidence-Man     95
"A Leaf from Professional Experience": Short Fiction of the 1850s     97
"Peculiarly Latitudinarian Notions": Israel Potter and The Confidence-Man     123
Melville's Later Career     135
"Fulness & Veins & Beauty": Battle-Pieces and Clarel     137
"Different Considerations": Late Poetry     160
"Instinct with Significance": Billy Budd     175
Afterword: "Restoring To You Your Own Property": Owning Melville     188
The "Agatha" Correspondence     191
Notes     200
Bibliography     206
Index     217
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