After the Whale: Melville in the Wake of "Moby Dick" (3rd)
By: Clark Davis (author)Hardback
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After the Whale Melville in the Wake of Moby-Dick Clark DavisAfter the Whale contextualizes Herman Melville's short fictionand poetry by studying it in the company of the more familiar fictionof the 1850s era. The study focuses on Melville's vision of thepurpose and function of language from Moby-Dick through Billy Budd witha special emphasis on how language--in function and form--follows and dependson the function and form of the body, how Melville's attitude towardwords echoes his attitude toward esh. Davis begins by locating anddescribing the fundamental dialectic formulated in Moby-Dick in the charactersof Ahab and Ishmael. This dialectic produces two visions of bodily realityand two corresponding visions of language: Ahab's, in which languageis both weapon and substitute body, and Ishmael's, in which languageis an extension of the body--a medium of explanation, conversation, andplay. These two forms of language provide a key to understanding the difficultrelationships and formal changes in Melville's writings after Moby-Dick. By following each work's attitude toward the dialectic, we can seethe contours of the later career more clearly and so begin a movement awayfrom weakly contextualized readings of individual novels and short storiesto a more complete consideration of Melville's career. Since therediscovery of Herman Melville in the early decades of this century, criticismhas been limited to the prose in general and to a few major works in particular.Those who have given significant attention to the short fictionand poetry have done so frequently out of context, that is, in multi-authorworks devoted exclusively to these genres. The result has been a criticismwith large gaps, most especially for works from Melville's latercareer. The relative lack of interest in the poetry has left us with littleunderstanding of how Melville's later voices developed, of how thenovels evolved into tales, the tales into poetry, and the poetry back intoprose. In short, the development of MelvilleIs art during the finalthree decades of his life remains a subject of which we have been affordedonly glimpses, rarely a continuous attention. After the Whale providesa new, more comprehensive understanding of Melville's growth asa writer."
Clark Davis is Assistant Professor of English at Northeast Louisiana University. "
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- ID: 9780817307745
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