Herman Melville: An Anti- Transcendentalist or Not?
Melville, Herman (1819-91), American novelist, a major literary figure whose exploration of psychological and metaphysical themes foreshadowed 20th-century literary concerns but whose works remained in obscurity until the 1920s, when his genius was finally recognized. Melville was born August 1, 1819, in New York City, into a family that had declined in the world. The Gansevoorts were solid, stable, eminent, prosperous people; the (Herman's Father's side) Melvilles were somewhat less successful materially, possessing an unpredictable. erratic, mercurial strain. (Edinger 6). This difference between the Melville's and Gansevoorts was the beginning of the trouble for the Melville family. Herman's mother tried to work her way up the social ladder by moving into bigger and better homes. While borrowing money from the bank, her husband was spending more than he was earning. It is my conclusion that Maria Melville never committed herself emotionally to her husband, but remained primarily attached to the well off Gansevoort family. (Humford 23) Allan Melville was also attached financially to the Gansevoorts for support. There is a lot of evidence concerning Melville's relation to his mother Maria Melville. Apparently the older son Gansevoort who carried the mother's maiden name was distinctly her favorite. (Edinger 7) This was a sense of alienation the Herman Melville felt from his mother. This was one of the first symbolists to the Biblical Ishamel.
In 1837 he shipped to Liverpool as a cabin boy. Upon returning to the U.S. he taught school and then sailed for the South Seas in 1841 on the whaler Acushnet. After an 18 month voyage he deserted the ship in the Marquesas Islands and with a companion lived for a month among the natives, who were cannibals. He escaped aboard an Australian trader, leaving it at Papeete, Tahiti, where he was imprisoned temporarily. He worked as a field labore...
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