Front cover image for Subversive genealogy : the politics and art of Herman Melville

Subversive genealogy : the politics and art of Herman Melville

This book makes several claims which ought to be stated at the outset: that Herman Melville is a recorder and interpreter of American society whose work is comparable to that of the great nineteenth-century European realists; that there was a crisis of bourgeois society at midcentury on both continents, but that in America it entered politics by way of slavery and race rather than class; that the crisis called into question the ideal realm of liberal political freedom; that Melville was particularly sensitive to the American crisis because of the political importance of his clan and the political history of his family; that a study of Melville's fiction, and of the society refracted through it, must also be a history of Melville's family, and of the writer's relation to his kin; and finally, that Melville rendered American history symbolically, so that a history of his fiction, his family, and his psyche is also a history of the development and displacement of major symbols in his work. - Preface
Print Book, English, 1985, ©1983
1st California pbk. ed View all formats and editions
University of California Press, Berkeley, 1985, ©1983
CAL, 716
x, 354 pages : genealogical table ; 24 cm
9780520051782, 0520051785
The Gansevoort-Melvill(e) family trees
Prologue: The red rover
Allan Melvill and some versions of romance
Gansevoort Melville: cannibals and christians
Guert Gansevoort: masters and slaves
Moby-Dick and the American 1848
Herman Melville's eighteenth Brumaire
Class struggles in America
Revolutionary fathers and confidence men
The iron dome
The Somers Mutiny and Billy Budd: Melville in the penal colony