This is a small research/course reaction paper asking you to research the life and work of Herman Melville and to respond to his classic novel, Moby-Dick. Use MLA.
3-5 pages (typed, double spaced)
DUE: Before Finals Week! Via Blackboard Messages
The massive critical overview of American literature by Barrett Wendell called A Literary History of America, published in 1900 by Charles Scribner’s Sons, has only one line devoted to Herman Melville: “Hermann Melville, with his books about the South Seas… and with his novels of maritime adventure, began a career of literary promise, which never came to fruition.” In almost six hundred pages of criticism, Melville’s first name is misspelled and his literary reputation at the turn of the century is accurately described: his early “maritime adventure” novels showed promise in their popularity but his writing never took off, never became important. Today, of course, he is one of the most prominent figures in American letters and his masterpiece, Moby-Dick, is widely considered to be the “great American novel.”
What changed? Answer the following:
Who was Herman Melville (1819-1891)?
What is Moby-Dick about and why is it so famous? Who is Ishmael? What makes this a “maritime” novel?
Can you find any connections to it in today’s popular culture? How did Shakespeare and Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein influence the novel? And is a Moby-Dick character in Moore’s League of extraordinary gentlemen?
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