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Melville: The Making of the Poet Hardcover – December 11, 2007

ISBN-13: 978-0810124646 ISBN-10: 0810124645 Edition: 1st

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 248 pages
  • Publisher: Northwestern University Press; 1 edition (December 11, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0810124645
  • ISBN-13: 978-0810124646
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,230,368 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


"With astonishingly far-reaching attention to the pertinent specifics of poems and prose commentaries by English and American writers who influenced Melville, Parker re-creates the poetic education of the man who would go on to write Moby-Dick. His book is a stunning defense of Melville's right to be treated as a major poet. Highly recommended for all academic libraries."—Library Journal

"Highly recommended."--CHOICE Magazine

About the Author

Hershel Parker, H. Fletcher Brown Professor Emeritus at the University of Delaware, is the associate general editor of the Northwestern-Newberry The Writings of Herman Melville. His publications include Flawed Texts and Verbal Icons, Reading "Billy Budd”, and the 1995 edition of Melville's Pierre, or, The Ambiguities, illustrated by Maurice Sendak. He is also the author of the two-volume Herman Melville: A Biography, 1819-1851 (1996) and Herman Melville: A Biography, 1851-1891 (2002), the first a Pulitzer finalist and each the winner of the highest award from the Association of American Publishers' Professional/Scholarly Publishing Division.

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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on February 17, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Those wanting to know Herman Melville the poet and how much poetry meant to him all of his life would do well to start with Hershel Parker's MELVILLE: THE MAKING OF THE POET. This book will surely prove foundational in the coming years and decades as Melville enthusiasts and scholars come to enjoy easy access to Melville's poetry -- many for the first time -- as it becomes readily available in the forthcoming final two volumes of the Northwestern-Newberry series, THE WRITINGS OF HERMAN MELVILLE.

Parker intentionally does not excerpt or quote much of Melville's poetry, nor does he offer extended discussions concerning Melville's status as a poet. However he does suggest that Melville's poetry might be favorably ranked with the poetry of Dickinson, Whitman, the Brownings, and Tennyson. Parker is not alone in suggesting and arguing for the worth of Melville's poetry. Many poets, readers, and critics have praised Melville's poetic writings -- Robert Penn Warren, Muriel Rukeyser (The Life of Poetry), and, more recently, Helen Vendler (Poems, Poets, Poetry: An Introduction and Anthology), to name just a few.

What Parker does do in MELVILLE: THE MAKING OF THE POET is cite, document, and discuss thoroughly the evidence related to Melville's reading and study of poetry from his earliest years that renders obsolete and unsustainable the unfounded, inaccurate view that poetry for Melville was a sideline, an afterthought, a way to escape the disappointing contemporary reception and poor sales of prose masterworks like MOBY-DICK.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Yankee Reader on February 11, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Poets don't just happen, especially American poets. Like many of his contemporaries, Melville agonized over what it meant to become a poet--and Parker reveals step-by-step how Melville chose not to become the poet of "Young America," but instead came to see himself, and to fashion himself, as a contemporary of Tennyson and Arnold.

In the mode of his two-volume biography of Melville, Parker analyzes the known (Melville's books of poetry and criticism and the running commentary he kept up with their authors in the margins) and speculates responsibly about the uncertain (conversations with living writers and critics like H. T. Tuckerman).

Specifically disclaiming a critical assessment of Melville's poetry, Parker comprehensively lays out the groundwork for such an assessment and opens the door for informed critical analysis. Along with Stovall's THE FOREGROUND OF LEAVES OF GRASS this book demonstrates the intensity of both external study and re-imagination of self in the process of becoming a poet in Nineteenth-Century America.
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11 of 16 people found the following review helpful By BfloBen on December 30, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Mr. Parker is a major scholar in Melville Studies. This "review" is the humble opinion of a nonscholar Melville lover.

If you have an overpowering need to see numerous small documented facts about Herman Melville's penchant for poetry, your passion will be fulfilled by Mr. Parker. He offers a page by page surfeit of names, titles, and references about what HM studied and knew about poetry. The thorough documentation is fine but the book also echoes with many a "might have," "may have," "could have" and other indicia of speculation about HM's interest in or discussion (even perhaps in the privacy of his home) of poetry. Within this effort to prove that HM was a true poet (I believe he was but was he a great one?) and that Kazin and others who say otherwise were wrong, there are many interesting insights and bits of Melvilleiana.

Mr. Parker's gives us over 200 pages of text on HM as a poet with but a few lines of HM's verse and equally sparse commentary on the verse. This is strictly a book about HM the poet not HM's poetry. If you want to know through fact and speculation how HM became a poet, this volume a fine place to start. Personally, a concise journal article would have done the job for me. I would still like to know more about HM's poetry.
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