Herman Melville, an Artist without a Biography

Mychailo Kalinichenko


The article actualizes the necessity to specify methodological, historical and literary priorities, which may ensure the production of a biography of the creative work of Herman Melville, the author of the widely famous novel Moby-Dick. The urgency of the search for a principally new scholarly paradigm is conditioned by the crisis state of numerous North American biographies of the artist, which are primarily aimed at the exploration of documental materials. As the result of this scholarly devotion to obsolete positivistic, empirical models of thought, the existing variations of Melville's biography (including the authoritative two-volume biographical work of professor H. Parker) leave unanswered the issues of creative character: the connections of the writer with the social and cultural reality of the United States of the first half of the nineteenth century remain unreciprocated; the problem of Melville's artistic evolution also awaits proper solutions. The author of the article realizes a textual comprehension of the writer's creativity and personal life. Biographical circumstances of the process of his artistic maturation are reviewed in terms of their connections with the discursive practices of Melville's age.


biography; text; discourse; North American Romanticism; mass-market literature; highbrow literature; H. Melville


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GOST Style Citations

Critical Essays on Herman Melville's Moby-Dick / [edited by Brian Higgins and Hershel Parker]. – New York : G. K. Hall & Co., 1992. – XIII, 570 p. – (Critical Essays on American Literature).


Delbanco A. Melville : His World and Work / Andrew Delbanco. – New York : Alfred A. Knopf, 2005. – 415 p.


Lipsitz G. American Studies In A Moment of Danger / George Lipsitz. – Minneapolis : University of Minneapolis Press, 2001. – 408 p.


Parker H. Herman Melville : A Biography : in 2 v. V. 1. 1819–1851 / Hershel Parker. – Baltimore; Maryland : The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1996. – 941 p.


Rogin M. P. Geneology : The Politics and Art of Herman Melville / Michael Paul Rogin. – New York : Alfred A. Knopf, 1983. – 370 p.


Rowe J. C. The New American Studies / John Carlos Rowe. – Minneapolis : University of Minneapolis Press, 2001. – 288 p.


The Journal of Henry David Thoreau (1837–1861) / [ed. by Damion Searls]. – New York : New York Review of Books, 2009. – 704 p.


The Letters of Herman Melville / [edited by Merrill R. Davis and William H. Gilman]. – New Haven : Yale University Press, 1960. – 398 p.

Copyright (c) 2014 Mychailo Kalinichenko

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Pytannia literaturoznavstva
ISSN 2306-2908 
Yuriy Fedkovych Chernivtsi National University
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