Melville’s Short Fiction, 1853-1856

William B. Dillingham


Description
This study treats comprehensively the sixteen short works of fiction that Herman Melville wrote between 1853 and 1856, most of which were published in Harper's and Putnam's magazines. Concentrating on the writer's two basic motivations for writing as he did in these stories, Dillingham argues that Melville created a surface of almost inane congeniality in many of the works, an illusion of vapidity that camouflages a profundity often missed by his readers. He sought to to hide disturbing themes because the magazines for which he was writing would almost certainly have rejected his attempts to be more direct.

Dillingham's method is not, however, confined to a reading of the texts. Melville's stories contain so many allusions to the contemporary scene that they constitute in themselves a cultural study. An important contribution of Melville's Short Fiction is its discussion of these allusions. Finally, Dillingham examines the relationship between the short fiction and Melville's own life. Much of the writer's frustration and struggle is concealed in these early works. Melville's friendship with Hawthorne, for example, an intense and yet in some ways disappointing relationship for both men, is explored as an important influence on several of the stories.

Page count: 400 pp.
Trim size: 5.5 x 8.5

 



Paper
List price: $22.95
978-0-8203-3271-0
9/1/2008

buy button
View Shopping Cart



William B. Dillingham is Charles Howard Candler Professor of American Literature, Emeritus, at Emory University. His books include four studies of Herman Melville: Melville’s Short Fiction, 1853-1856; An Artist in the Rigging: The Early Work of Herman Melville; Melville’s Later Novels; and Melville and His Circle: The Last Years (all Georgia).