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Subversive Genealogy: The Politics and Art of Herman Melville Paperback – April 18, 1985

5.0 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From the Back Cover

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 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, and also that Melville was particularly sensitive to the American crisis because of the political importance of his clan and the political history of his family
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 370 pages
  • Publisher: University of California Press; Reprint edition (April 18, 1985)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0520051785
  • ISBN-13: 978-0520051782
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,391,750 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By John Fischer on February 17, 2000
Format: Paperback
Melville studies are plagued by two contrasting types of criticism: turgid, historical treatises and fluffy, self-absorbed studies of trendy nonsense. This work, however, revolutionized Melville studies by combining historical, psychoanalytic and literary analysis in an exceptionally illuminating manner. It is without question the single best study of Melville in the past thirty years.
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I'll let Susan Howe, poet-scholar, speak on this one: "I think the most exciting book on Melville recently [1989] is Subversive Genealogies...Melville, like Hamlet, saw the ghost under the helmet. How do you act when you know what you know? As Olson puts it in the "Letter [for Melville 1951]," 'this beast hauled up out of great water was society'. The Leviathan. Moby. Rogin beautifully shows how Melville works in and around, for and against what he sees and says...Home, politics, and art are here together as they should be. You cannot separate an author from family, history, and ideology."
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