Sunday, December 06, 2009

a world about whose values he was so often skeptical

"Melville himself said in Moby Dick, 'to write a mighty book you must have a mighty theme.' Here he had it -- the rebellious struggle of Captain Ahab against the overwhelming, mysterious vastness of the universe and its awesome, sometimes merciless forces....

"What baffled its early readers was the book's wild extravagances of mood and language, its effect of what the modern critic Van Wyck Brooks calls 'a shredded Shakespearean play.' Melville confided to Hawthorne that it had been 'broiled in hell-fire,' referring to the turbulence of his own spirit from which the book sprang. Moby Dick was too powerful for the readers of its time....

"Melville passed the last twenty years or so of his life in almost total obscurity, withdrawn from literary circles. Back in New York, for nineteen years he was a clerk in a customhouse. His long-agitated spirit finally seemed calm. He had withdrawn himself from a world about whose values he was so often skeptical."

--Edmund Fuller and B. Jo Kinnick, Adventures in American Literature: Laureate Edition, 1963

1 comment:

Vedran said...

hello there Radigan, I send email but no reply so I'll try one more time. Hope we can meet before Dec. 20.