Reading Melville's Pierre; Or, The Ambiguities

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LSU Press, 2007 - Počet stran: 240
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Herman Melville's Pierre; or. The Ambiguities has a storied place in the history of American publishing. Melville began writing this follow-up to Moby-Dick in October 1851, thinking that it might prove even more significant than its predecessor. The 1852 publication of Pierre was catastrophic, however. Melville lost his English publisher, and American reviewers derided the book and called the author mad. InReading Melville's "Pierre; or, The Ambiguities," noted Melville authorities Brian Higgins and Hershel Parker probe the daunting story behind a deeply flawed but revealing work, one that directly reflects the major crisis of Melville's authorial life.
Weighed down by huge debts, Melville took the manuscript of Pierre to his New York publisher, Harper and Brothers, desperately needing the new work to be a financial success. The Harpers balked at publishing such a dangerous psychological novel (incest was a theme) and offered him less than half the royalties they had paid for his previous books. The anguished Melville accepted the contract but subsequently added new passages to his manuscript -- passages that disparage the publishing industry and reflect his agony at the looming loss of his career.
Higgins and Parker examine what can plausibly be reconstructed of Melville's original version of Pierreand explore the consequences of his belated decision to expand his work, showing in detail how his hastily written and awkwardly inserted additions marred much of what he had brilliantly achieved in the shorter version. They demonstrate that to understand Pierre, and Melville himself at this crisis, one must first understand the compositional history that resulted in the book as published.
Setting Pierre in the context of Melville's literary life, Higgins and Parker's study is an illuminating demonstration of biographical and textual scholarship by two of the field's finest practitioners.

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1 Toward a Kraken Book
Books I and II
Books IIIV
The Kraken Ending
JanuaryFebruary 1852
7 Aftermath
8 Faltering Recognition
Works Cited
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Oblíbené pasáže

Strana 163 - What I feel most moved to write, that is banned,— it will not pay. Yet, altogether, write the other way I cannot. So the product is a final hash, and all my books are botches.
Strana 152 - ... mug" in a magazine, is presumptive evidence that he's a nobody. So being as vain a man as ever lived...
Strana 86 - The truest of all men was the Man of Sorrows, and the truest of all books is Solomon's, and Ecclesiastes is the fine hammered steel of woe. All is vanity.
Strana 172 - For it is according to eternal fitness, that the precipitated Titan should still seek to regain his paternal birthright even by fierce escalade. Wherefore whoso storms the sky gives best proof he came from thither ! But whatso crawls contented in the moat before that crystal fort, shows it was born within that slime, and there forever will abide.
Strana 116 - Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.
Strana 3 - I am so pulled hither and thither by circumstances. The calm, the coolness, the silent grass-growing mood in which a man ought always to compose, — that, I fear, can seldom be mine.
Strana 67 - Jesus' disciple : he went to Pilate, and begged the body of Jesus. Then Pilate commanded the body to be delivered. And when Joseph had taken the body, he wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, and laid it in his new tomb, which he had hewn out in the rock: and he rolled a great stone to the door of the sepulchre, and departed.
Strana 177 - I impelled to decline those overtures upon the ground that my new book possessing unquestionable novelty, as regards my former ones, — treating of utterly new scenes & characters ; — and, as I believe, very much more calculated for popularity than anything you have yet published of mine — being a regular romance, with a mysterious plot to it, & stirring passions at work, and withall, representing a new & elevated aspect of American life...
Strana 3 - What's the use of elaborating what, in its very essence, is so short-lived as a modern book? Though I wrote the Gospels in this century, I should die in the gutter.— I talk all about myself, and this is selfishness and egotism.

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O autorovi (2007)

Brian Higgins is Professor Emeritus of English at the University of Illinois at Chicago and the author of Herman Melville: An Annotated Bibliography, 1846-1930 and Herman Melville: A Reference Guide, 1930-1960. He is also coeditor, with Hershel Parker, of Herman Melville: The Contemporary Reviews.

Hershel Parker, H. Fletcher Brown Professor Emeritus of American Romanticism at the University of Delaware, is Associate General Editor of The Writings of Herman Melvilleand author of the two-volume Herman Melville: A Biography. His other books include Flawed Texts and Verbal Icons and Reading "Billy Budd," and he is coeditor, with Brian Higgins, of Critical Essays on Herman Melville's "Moby-Dick."

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