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Empire for Liberty Melville and the Poetics of Individualism by Wai-chee Dimock

Empire for Liberty Melville and the Poetics of Individualism


Empire for Liberty Melville and the Poetics of Individualism by Wai-chee Dimock

Wai Chee Dimock approaches Herman Melville not as a timeless genius, but as a historical figure caught in the politics of an imperial nation and an imperial self. She challenges our customary view by demonstrating a link between the individualism that enabled Melville to write as a sovereign author and the nationalism that allowed America to grow into what Jefferson hoped would be an empire for liberty.


In this tenacious and articulate study, Professor Dimock explores the 'textual governance
of Melville

's fiction: the ways in which the expectations and practice of imperialism in antebellum America necessarily informed--and limited--the poetics of Melville's 'authorial sovereignty'
over his writings. Not everyone will agree with her conclusions about Melville

's problematical poetics and historicism; yet her book will send the reader back again and again to Melville, equipped with new insights into his art and vision. --R. Bruce Bickley, Jr., American Literature'

About the Author

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Book Info

Publication date

1st February 1991


Wai-chee Dimock

More books by Wai-chee Dimock
Author 'Like for Like'


Princeton University Press


264 pages


Literary studies: fiction, novelists & prose writers
Literary studies: c 1800 to c 1900



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