Herman Melville (1819-1891)

A selective list of online literary criticism for the nineteenth-century American novelist and story writer Herman Melville, favoring signed articles and peer-reviewed sources

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Introduction & Biography

"Herman Melville." A short biography of Melville, by Prof. John Clendenning, at PBS.

"Herman Melville." A short biographical introduction to Melville, with text for some of his poems and a list of his works. Also "Walking Tour: Herman Melville's Downtown New York City." Academy of American Poets.

"A 'Poetry-Fueled War': During the Civil War, poetry didn't just respond to events, it shaped them." About scholar Faith Barrett's study of the civil war poetry of Emily Dickinson, Walt Whitman, and Melville's postwar collection, Battle-Pieces. From The Poetry Foundation.

"Moby-Dick." On Melville's voyage from New Bedford, Nantucket, whaling, and the whaleship Essex. From PBS.

"Arrowhead, the Home of Herman Melville," in the Berkshire mountains in Massachusetts

Larrabee, Harold A. "Herman Melville's Early Years in Albany." New York History 15, 2 (April 1934) pp 144-59 [free at jstor, click "Preview" or "Read Online"].

Renker, Elizabeth. "Herman Melville, Wife Beating, and the Written Page." On the evidence that Melville abused his wife, Elizabeth Shaw Melville. American Literature 66, 1 (March 1994) [preview or purchase, jstor].

"Herman Melville." An introduction to Melville, includes a list of his works and recommended secondary reading. Also teaching strategies. By Prof. Carolyn L. Karcher for the college textbook the Heath Anthology of American Literature.

Lee, A Robert. "Herman Melville." A substantial introduction to Melville, from Literary Encyclopedia, 2003 [subscription service].

Literary Criticism, Moby-Dick (1851)

Armstrong, Philip. "'Leviathan is a Skein of Networks': Translations of Nature and Culture in Moby-Dick." ELH 71, 4 (Winter 2004) pp 1039-63 [free at jstor, click "Preview" or "Read Online"].

Barbour, James. "The Composition of Moby-Dick." On the theory that Melville joined two separately composed narratives in Moby-Dick. American Literature 47, 3 (Nov. 1975) 42-62 [preview or purchase, jstor].

Barbour, James; and and Leon Howard. "Carlyle and the Conclusion of Moby-Dick." The New England Quarterly 49, 2 (June 1976) 214-24 [free at jstor, click "Preview" or "Read Online"].

Bell, Millicent. "Pierre Bayle and Moby-Dick." Professor Bell examines Melville's use of Bayle's Dictionary as a source for information, ideas, and philosophy in Moby-Dick. In PMLA 66, 5 (Sept. 1951) pp 626-648 [free at jstor, click "Preview" or "Read Online"].

Hoffman, Daniel G. "Moby-Dick: Jonah's Whale or Job's?" The Sewanee Review 69, 3 (April/June 1961) pp 205-24 [free at jstor, click "Preview" or "Read Online"].

Matthiessen, F.O. "Melville," Book 3 in American Renaissance: Art and Expression in the Age of Emerson and Whitman (Oxford 1941) [Questia subscription service].

Reynolds, Larry J. "Kings and Commoners in Moby-Dick." Studies in the Novel 12, 2 (Summer 1980) 101-13 [free at jstor, click "Preview" or "Read Online"].

Rosenberry, Edward H. "Moby-Dick: Epic Romance." College Literature 2, 3 (Fall 1975) pp 155-70 [preview or purchase, jstor].

Literary Criticism, Other Works

Baum, Nina. "Melville's Quarrel with Fiction." Writes Baum, "I think it can be shown that none of Melville's longer works are wholly or even mainly fictive, except in that broadest sense in which everything formulated into words is a fiction." PMLA 34 (1979), rev. [free].

Foley, Barbara. "From Wall Street to Astor Place: Historicizing Melville's 'Bartleby.'" Orig. pub. in American Literature 72 (2000) pp 87-116 [free].

Goldner, Ellen J. "Other Ghosts: Gothicism and the Bonds of Reason in Melville, Chesnutt, and Morrison" (and Charles Chesnutt, Toni Morrison). MELUS 24, 1 (Spring 1999) pp 59-83 [preview or purchase at jstor].

Haydock, John. "Melville and Balzac: the man in cream-colors." Haydock hypothesizes that Melville's portrayal of the man in cream colors in The Confidence-Man was indebted to Balzac's similar character in "Jesus-Christ in Flanders." College Literature 35, 1 (Winter 2008) pp 58-81 [preview or purchase at jstor].

Hoeveler, Diane Long. "Beatrice Cenci in Hawthorne, Melville and her Atlantic-Rim Contexts." On the fascination with the "horrid" Beatrice Cenci story for American authors. Romanticism on the Net. 38-39 (May-August 2005) [free].

Lock, Helen. "The Paradox of Slave Mutiny in Herman Melville, Charles Johnson, and Frederick Douglass." Lock suggests approaches to teaching Melville's "Benito Cereno," since its treatment of the slave rebellion is problematic for many students. College Literature (2003) [first half of article only, highbeam].

Olsen-Smith, Steven. "Herman Melville's Planned Work on Remorse." Nineteenth Century Literature 50, 4 (March 1996) pp 489-500 [free at jstor, click "Preview" or "Read Online"].

Web Sites

The Melville Society. The web site provides information about its programs and events.

Bryant, John. "Typee: Fluid Text Edition." An edition approved by the MLA Committee on Scholarly Editions. Subscription required. U of Virginia.

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