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Herman Melville: An Introduction

ISBN: 978-0-470-69327-8
248 pages
April 2008, Wiley-Blackwell
Herman Melville: An Introduction (0470693274) cover image
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.

  • Offers a brief introduction to Melville, covering all his major works
  • Showcases Melville's writing process through his correspondence with Nathaniel Hawthorne
  • Provides a clear sense of Melville's major themes and preoccupations
  • Focuses on Typee, Moby-Dick, and Billy Budd in individual chapters
  • Includes a biography, summary of key works, interpretation, commentary, and an extensive bibliography.
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Texts and Abbreviations.

List of Illustrations.

Acknowledgments.

Preface.

Part I: Introduction.

1. Melville’s Life.

2. ‘Agatha’ and the Invention of Narrative.

Part II: Melville’s Early Yarns.

3. ‘Making Literary Use of the Story’: Typee and Omoo.

4. ‘A Regular Story Founded on Striking Incidents’: Mardi, Redburn, and White-Jacket.

Part III: Writing New Gospel in Moby-Dick and Pierre.

5. ‘So Much of Pathos & So Much of Depth’: Moby-Dick.

6. ‘All Tender Obligations’: Pierre.

Part IV: Turning a New Leaf: Short Fiction, Israel Potter, and The Confidence-Man.

7. ‘A Leaf from Professional Experience’: Short Fiction of the 1850s.

8. ‘Peculiarly Latitudinarian Notions’: Israel Potter and The Confidence-Man.

Part V: Melville’s Later Career.

9. ‘Fulness & Veins & Beauty’: Battle-Pieces and Clarel.

10. ‘Different Considerations’: Late Poetry.

11. ‘Instinct with Significance’: Billy Budd.

Afterword: ‘Restoring To You Your Own Property’: Owning Melville.

Appendix: The ‘Agatha’ Correspondence.

Notes.

Bibliography.

Index

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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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  • Offers a brief introduction to Melville, covering all his major works
  • Provides a clear sense of Melville’s major themes and preoccupations
  • Focuses on Typee, Moby-Dick, and Billy Budd in individual chapters
  • Showcases Melville’s writing process through his correspondence with Nathaniel Hawthorne
  • Includes a biography, summary of key works, interpretation, commentary, and an extensive bibliography
See More
“Read alongside Melville's original writings, this book will be an excellent companion for a Melville course. Essential.” (Choice, November 2008)

“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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