By Harold Bloom
A set of 8 serious essays on Melville's novel Moby Dick prepared in chronological order of e-book.
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Extra resources for Herman Melville's Moby-dick (Bloom's Modern Critical Interpretations)
For example, Daniel Raymond’s The Elements of Political Economy (1822) includes anticapitalist rhetoric but also upholds industrialization within limits, primarily to restrict its demoralizing power over laborers reduced to propertyless conditions (Kaufman 67–81). 16 As Laurence Shore points out in Southern Capitalists, William Gregg’s Essays on Domestic Industry (1844) tried to shame Southern capitalists into developing their own manufacturing economy so that Southern states could maintain slavery at a profit, while Ellwood Fisher’s famous lecture in 1849 claimed that statistically the Southern slave economy had attained a per capita wealth that “eclipsed the North” (32–33, 38).
No salvation of Queequeg’s pagan variety is available to mankind. No humane cannibalism replaces the savagery of American economic, political, and social oppression. A lone survivor, Ishmael, the orphaned slave, returns quite the misanthrope. Reading the novel retrospectively, we discern the extent of Ishmael’s cynicism. Ishmael sardonically recounts in allegorical terms his era of terrible slavery, bitter poverty, hypocritical Christian morality, cruel, monomaniacal expansionism, and of a Union on the verge of its own self-destruction.
Melville introduces his reader to more grotesque and disturbing scenes of cannibalism which eventually become graphic depictions of autocannibalism. Like his earlier treatments of the subject in Typee, Melville tries “to demystify the practice of cannibalism and to defuse Western obsessions with cannibalism as the crucial sign of savagery” (Otter 47). Melville’s method of demystification, though, is to infuse his cetology chapters with tropes of acquisition, feeding, and power. In short, he universalizes cannibalism.
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