Melville Biography

Melville Biography

An Inside Narrative

by Hershel Parker

Imprint: Northwestern University Press

587 Pages, 6.00 x 9.00 in

  • Hardcover
  • 9780810127098
  • Published: January 2013



Melville Biography: An Inside Narrative is Hershel Parker’s history of the writing of Melville biographies, enriched by a lifetime of intimate working partnerships with great Melville scholars of different generations and by the author’s experience of successive phases of literary criticism. Throughout this bold book, Hershel Parker champions archival-based biography and the all-but-lost art of embodying such scholarship in literary criticism. First is a mesmerizing autobiographical account of what went into creating the award-winning and comprehensive  Herman Melville: A Biography. Then Parker traces six decades of the “unholy war” waged against biographical scholarship, in which critics repeatedly imposed the theory of organic unity on Melville’s disrupted life—not just on his writings—while truncating his body of work and ignoring his study of art and aesthetics. In this connection, Parker celebrates discoveries made by “divine amateurs,” before throwing open his workshop to challenge ambitious readers with research projects. This is a book for Melville fans and Parker fans, as well as for readers, writers, and would-be writers of biography.

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