Handsomely Done

Handsomely Done

Aesthetics, Politics, and Media after Melville
Edited by Daniel Hoffman-Schwartz

Handsomely Done: Aesthetics, Politics, and Media after Melville brings together leading and emerging scholars from comparative literature, critical theory, and media studies to examine Melville’s works in light of their ongoing afterlife and seemingly permanent contemporaneity. The volume explores the curious fact that the works of this most linguistically complex and seemingly most “untranslatable” of authors have yielded such compelling translations and adaptations as well as the related tendency of Melville’s writing to flash into relevance at every new historical-political conjuncture.

The volume thus engages not only Melville reception across media (Jorge Luis Borges, John Huston, Jean-Luc Godard, Led Zeppelin, Claire Denis) but also the Melvillean resonances and echoes of various political events and movements, such as the Attica uprising, the Red Army Faction, Occupy Wall Street, and Black Lives Matter. This consideration of Melville’s afterlife opens onto theorizations of intermediality, un/translatability, and material intensity even as it also continually faces the most concrete and pressing questions of history and politics. 
About the Author

DANIEL HOFFMAN-SCHWARTZ is a lecturer in comparative literature at Princeton University.

"Handsomely Done makes one of the strongest cases yet for how Melville has become the favored literary author of contemporary critical theory. Tracing Melville’s afterlife in philosophical, political, and aesthetic adaptations–by everyone from Carl Schmitt and the Red Army Faction to Jean-Luc Godard and Claire Denis–Hoffman-Schwartz and the contributors to this collection locate Melville’s enduring relevance in the experimental adaptations and mediations his own work performs. —Jennifer Greiman

"Handsomely Done is one of the best book-length marryings of critical theory with Melville’s works. There is a great value in a politically focused updating of the relationship between Melville and critical theory, and this collection will be a landmark event in the ongoing development of that relationship."  —Geoffrey Sanborn, author of The Value of Herman Melville

"A vibrant, fascinating collection of essays on the permanently powerful, enigmatic corpus of Melville’s writings. The analyses range across the canonical and not-so-canonical texts, articulating them with compelling works of art and pertinent historical configurations in Melville’s aftermath. Diverse in their objects haunted or informed by Melville, these intense essays never fail to illuminate. Their close attention does a kind of belated justice to Melville too often denied in his lifetime." —Ian Balfour

". . . wide-ranging and engagingly cosmopolitan . . . It constitutes an important contribution to any serious Melvillean’s bookshelf, and it is likely to kindle the enthusiasm of new readers of Melville from across languages and disciplines." —Brian Yothers, The Comparatist