Tuesday, September 28, 2010
The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket (1838) is the only complete novel written by American writer Edgar Allan Poe. The work relates the tale of the young Arthur Gordon Pym who stows away aboard a whaling ship called Grampus. Various adventures and misadventures befall Pym including shipwreck, mutiny, and cannibalism before he is saved by the crew of the Jane Guy. Aboard this vessel, Pym and a sailor named Dirk Peters continue their adventures further south. Docking on land, they encounter hostile black-skinned natives before escaping back to the ocean. The novel ends abruptly as Pym and Peters continue towards the South Pole.
The story starts out as a fairly conventional adventure at sea, but it becomes increasingly strange and hard to classify. Poe, who intended to present a realistic story, was inspired by several real-life accounts of sea voyages, and drew heavily from Jeremiah N. Reynolds and referenced the Hollow Earth theory. He also drew from his own experiences at sea. Analyses of the novel often focus on the potential autobiographical elements as well as hints of racism and the symbolism in the final lines of the work.
Difficulty in finding literary success early in his short story-writing career inspired Poe to pursue writing a longer work. A few serialized installments of The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket were first published in the Southern Literary Messenger, though never completed. The full novel was not published until July 1838 in two volumes. Contemporary critics responded negatively to the work for being too gruesome and for cribbing heavily from other works. Poe himself later called it "a very silly book." Nevertheless, The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket became an influential work, notably for Herman Melville and Jules Verne.
Herman Melville (August 1, 1819 – September 28, 1891) was an American novelist, short story writer, essayist, and poet, whose work is often classified as part of the genre of dark romanticism. He is best known for his novel Moby-Dick and the posthumous novella Billy Budd.
His first three books gained much attention, the first becoming a bestseller, but after a fast-blooming literary success in the late 1840s, his popularity declined precipitously in the mid-1850s and never recovered during his lifetime. When he died in 1891, he was almost completely forgotten. It was not until the "Melville Revival" in the early 20th century that his work won recognition, especially Moby-Dick which was hailed as one of the literary masterpieces of both American and world literature. He was the first writer to have his works collected and published by the Library of America.
Early life, education, and family
Herman Melville was born in New York City on August 1, 1819, the third child of Allan and Maria Gansevoort Melvill. After her husband Allan died, Maria added an "e" to the family surname. Part of a well-established and colorful Boston family, Melville's father spent a good deal of time abroad as a commission merchant and an importer of French dry goods. The author's paternal grandfather, Major Thomas Melvill, an honored survivor of the Boston Tea Party who refused to change the style of his clothing or manners to fit the times, was depicted in Oliver Wendell Holmes's poem "The Last Leaf". Herman visited him in Boston, and his father turned to him in his frequent times of financial need. The maternal side of Melville's family was Hudson Valley Dutch. His maternal grandfather was General Peter Gansevoort, a hero of the Battle of Saratoga; in his gold-laced uniform, the general sat for a portrait painted by Gilbert Stuart, which is described in Melville's 1852 novel, Pierre, for Melville wrote out of his familial as well as his nautical background. Like the titular character in Pierre, Melville found satisfaction in his "double revolutionary descent."
Allan Melvill sent his sons to the New York Male School (Columbia Preparatory School). Overextended financially and emotionally unstable, Allan tried to recover from his setbacks by moving his family to Albany in 1830 and going into the fur business. The new venture, however, was unsuccessful; the War of 1812 had ruined businesses that tried to sell overseas and he was forced to declare bankruptcy. He died soon afterward, leaving his family penniless, when Herman was 12. Although Maria had well-off kin, they were concerned with protecting their own inheritances and taking advantage of investment opportunities rather than settling their mother's estate so Maria's family would be more secure. Herman's younger brother, Thomas Melville, eventually became a governor of Sailors Snug Harbor.
Melville attended the Albany Academy from October 1830 to October 1831, and again from October 1836 to March 1837, where he studied the classics.
Early working life
Historical marker at the site of the family home in Albany, NY.Melville's roving disposition and a desire to support himself independently of family assistance led him to seek work as a surveyor on the Erie Canal. This effort failed, and his brother helped him get a job as a cabin boy on a New York ship bound for Liverpool. He made the voyage, and returned on the same ship. Redburn: His First Voyage (1849) is partly based on his experiences of this journey.
The three years after Albany Academy (1837 to 1840) were mostly occupied with teaching school, except for the voyage to Liverpool in 1839. Near the end of 1840 he once again decided to sign ship's articles. On January 3, 1841, he sailed from New Bedford, Massachusetts on the whaler Acushnet, which was bound for the Pacific Ocean. He was later to comment that his life began that day. The vessel sailed around Cape Horn and traveled to the South Pacific. Melville left little direct information about the events of this 18-month cruise, although his whaling romance, Moby-Dick; or, The Whale, probably gives many pictures of life on board the Acushnet. Melville deserted the Acushnet in the Marquesas Islands in July 1842. For three weeks he lived among the Typee natives, who were called cannibals by the two other tribal groups on the island—though they treated Melville very well. Typee, Melville's first novel, describes a brief love affair with a beautiful native girl, Fayaway, who generally "wore the garb of Eden" and came to epitomize the guileless noble savage in the popular imagination.
Melville did not seem to be concerned about repercussions from his desertion from the Acushnet. He boarded another whaler bound for Hawaii and left that ship in Honolulu. While in Honolulu, he became a controversial figure for his vehement opposition to the activities of Christian missionaries seeking to convert the native population. After working as a clerk for four months, he joined the crew of the frigate USS United States, which reached Boston in October 1844. These experiences were described in Typee, Omoo, and White-Jacket, which were published as novels mainly because few believed their veracity.
Melville completed Typee in the summer of 1845, though he had difficulty getting it published. It was eventually published in 1846 in London, where it became an overnight bestseller. The Boston publisher subsequently accepted Omoo sight unseen. Typee and Omoo gave Melville overnight notoriety as a writer and adventurer, and he often entertained by telling stories to his admirers. As writer and editor Nathaniel Parker Willis wrote, "With his cigar and his Spanish eyes, he talks Typee and Omoo, just as you find the flow of his delightful mind on paper". The novels, however, did not generate enough royalties for him to live on. Omoo was not as colorful as Typee, and readers began to realize Melville was not just producing adventure stories. Redburn and White-Jacket had no problem finding publishers. Mardi was a disappointment for readers who wanted another rollicking and exotic sea yarn.
Marriage and later working life
Elizabeth Shaw MelvilleMelville married Elizabeth Shaw, daughter of chief justice of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court Lemuel Shaw, on August 4, 1847; the couple honeymooned in Canada. They had four children: two sons and two daughters. In 1850 they purchased Arrowhead, a farm house in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, now a museum. Here Melville lived for 13 years, occupied with his writing and managing his farm. While living at Arrowhead, he befriended the author, Nathaniel Hawthorne, who lived in nearby Lenox. Melville, an intellectual loner for most of his life, was tremendously inspired and encouraged by his new relationship with Hawthorne during the period that he was writing Moby-Dick (dedicating it to Hawthorne), though their friendship was on the wane only a short time later, when he wrote Pierre there.
However, these works did not achieve the popular and critical success of his earlier books. Indeed, The New York Day Book on September 8, 1852, published a venomous attack on Melville and his writings headlined HERMAN MELVILLE CRAZY. The item, offered as a news story, reported, "A critical friend, who read Melville's last book, 'Ambiguities," between two steamboat accidents, told us that it appeared to be composed of the ravings and reveries of a madman. We were somewhat startled at the remark, but still more at learning, a few days after, that Melville was really supposed to be deranged, and that his friends were taking measures to place him under treatment. We hope one of the earliest precautions will be to keep him stringently secluded from pen and ink." Following this and other scathing reviews of Pierre by critics, publishers became wary of Melville's work. His publisher, Harper and Brothers, rejected his next manuscript, Isle of the Cross which has been lost. On April 1, 1857, Melville published his last full-length novel, The Confidence-Man. This novel, subtitled "His Masquerade," has won general acclaim in modern times as a complex and mysterious exploration of issues of fraud and honesty, identity and masquerade, but when it was published, it received reviews ranging from the bewildered to the denunciatory.
To repair his faltering finances, Melville listened to the advice of friends and decided to enter what was for others the lucrative field of lecturing. From 1857 to 1860, he spoke at lyceums, chiefly on the South Seas. Turning to poetry, he gathered a collection of verse that failed to interest a publisher. In 1863, he and his wife resettled, with their four children, in New York City. After the end of the American Civil War, he published Battle Pieces and Aspects of the War, (1866) a collection of over 70 poems that generally was ignored by the critics, though a few gave him patronizingly favorable reviews. In 1866, Melville's wife and her relatives used their influence to obtain a position for him as customs inspector for the City of New York (a humble but adequately paying appointment), and he held the post for 19 years. In a notoriously corrupt institution, Melville soon won the reputation of being the only honest employee of the customs house. (The customs house was coincidentally on Gansevoort St., named after his mother's prosperous family.) But from 1866, his professional writing career can be said to have come to an end.
Melville spent years writing a 16,000-line epic poem, Clarel, inspired by his earlier trip to the Holy Land. His uncle, Peter Gansevoort, by a bequest, paid for the publication of the massive epic in 1876. But the publication failed miserably, and the unsold copies were burned when Melville was unable to afford to buy them at cost.
As his professional fortunes waned, Melville's marriage was unhappy, plagued by rumors of his alcoholism and insanity and allegations that he inflicted physical abuse on his wife. Her relatives repeatedly urged her to leave him, and offered to have him committed as insane, but she refused. In 1867, his oldest son, Malcolm, shot himself, perhaps accidentally. While Melville worked, his wife managed to wean him off alcohol, and he no longer showed signs of agitation or insanity. But recurring depression was added to by the death of his second son, Stanwix, in San Francisco early in 1886. Melville retired in 1886, after several of his wife's relatives died and left the couple legacies that Mrs. Melville administered with skill and good fortune.
As English readers, pursuing the vogue for sea stories represented by such writers as G. A. Henty, rediscovered Melville's novels, he experienced a modest revival of popularity in England, though not in the United States. Once more he took up his pen, writing a series of poems with prose head notes inspired by his early experiences at sea. He published them in two collections, each issued in a tiny edition of 25 copies for his relatives and friends: John Marr (1888) and Timoleon (1891).
One of these poems further intrigued him, and he began to rework the headnote to turn it into first a short story and then a novella. He worked on it on and off for several years, but when he died in September 1891, he left the piece unfinished, and not until the literary scholar Raymond Weaver published it in 1924 did the book – which is now known as Billy Budd, Sailor – come to light.
Melville died at his home in New York City early on the morning of September 28, 1891, age 72. The doctor listed "cardiac dilation" on the death certificate. He was interred in the Woodlawn Cemetery in The Bronx, New York. A common story says that his New York Times obituary called him "Henry Melville", implying that he was unknown and unappreciated at his time of death, but the story isn't true.
photo by anthony22 at wiki
From about age 33, Melville ceased to be popular with a broad audience because of his increasingly philosophical, political, and experimental tendencies. His novella Billy Budd, Sailor, unpublished at the time of his death, was published in 1924. Later it was turned into an opera by Benjamin Britten, a play, and a film by Peter Ustinov.
In Herman Melville's Religious Journey, Walter Donald Kring detailed his discovery of letters indicating that Melville had been a member of the Unitarian Church of All Souls in New York City. Until this revelation, little had been known of his religious affiliation. Hershel Parker in the second volume of his biography makes it clear that Melville became a nominal member only to placate his wife. Melville despised Unitarianism and its associated "ism," Utilitarianism. (The great English Unitarians were Utilitarians.) See the 2006 Norton Critical Edition of The Confidence-Man for more detail on Melville and religion than in Parker's 2002 volume.
Publications and contemporary reactions
Most of Melville's novels were published first in the United Kingdom and then in the U.S. Sometimes the editions contain substantial differences; at other times different printings were either bowdlerized or restored to their pre-bowdlerized state.
Moby-Dick; or, The Whale has become Melville's most famous work and is often considered one of the greatest literary works of all time. It was dedicated to Melville's friend Nathaniel Hawthorne. It did not, however, make Melville rich. The book never sold its initial printing of 3,000 copies in his lifetime, and total earnings from the American edition amounted to just $556.37 from his publisher, Harper Brothers. Melville also wrote Billy Budd, White-Jacket, Israel Potter,Redburn, Typee, Omoo, Pierre, The Confidence-Man and many short stories, including "Bartleby, the Scrivener: A Story of Wall Street" and "Benito Cereno," and works of various genres.
Melville is less well known as a poet and did not publish poetry until later in life. After the Civil War, he published Battle Pieces and Aspects of the War, which did not sell well; of the Harper and Bros. printing of 1200 copies, only 525 had been sold ten years later. Again tending to outrun the tastes of his readers, Melville's epic length verse-narrative Clarel, about a student's pilgrimage to the Holy Land, was also quite obscure, even in his own time. Among the longest single poems in American literature, Clarel, published in 1876, had an initial printing of only 350 copies. The critic Lewis Mumford found a copy of the poem in the New York Public Library in 1925 "with its pages uncut"—in other words, it had sat there unread for 50 years.
His poetry is not as highly critically esteemed as his fiction, although some critics place him as the first modernist poet in the United States; others would assert that his work more strongly suggest what today would be a postmodern view. A leading champion of Melville's claims as a great American poet was the poet and novelist Robert Penn Warren, who issued a selection of Melville's poetry prefaced by an admiring and acute critical essay.
Melville was not financially successful as a writer, having earned just over $10,000 for his writing during his lifetime. After the success of travelogues based on voyages to the South Seas and stories based on misadventures in the merchant marine and navy, Melville's popularity declined dramatically. By 1876, all of his books were out of print. In the later years of his life and during the years after his death he was recognized, if at all, as only a minor figure in American literature.
A confluence of publishing events in the 1920s brought about a reassessment now commonly called "the Melville Revival". The two books generally considered most important to the Revival were both brought forth by Raymond Weaver: his 1921 biography Herman Melville: Man, Mariner and Mystic and his 1924 version of Melville's last great but never quite finished or properly organized work, Billy Budd, which Melville's granddaughter gave to Weaver when he visited her for research on the biography. The other works that helped fan the Revival flames were Carl Van Doren's The American Novel (1921), D. H. Lawrence's Studies in Classic American Literature (1923), and Lewis Mumford's biography, Herman Melville: A Study of His Life and Vision (1929). In 1945, the Melville Society was formed as a nonprofit organization dedicated to celebrating Melville’s literary legacy. In 1951, Newton Arvin published the critical biography Herman Melville, which won the nonfiction National Book Award.
In the 1960s, Northwestern University Press, in alliance with the Newberry Library and the Modern Language Association, established ongoing publication runs of Melville's various titles. This alliance sought to create a "definitive" edition of Melville's works. Titles republished under the Northwestern-Newberry Library include Typee, Piazza Tales and Other Prose Pieces, Omoo, Israel Potter, Pierre or the Ambiguities, Confidence-Man, White Jacket or the World in a Man-of-War, Moby Dick, Mardi and a Voyage Thither, Redburn, Clarel , as well as several volumes of Melville's poems, journals, and correspondence.
Themes of gender and sexuality
Although not the primary focus of Melville scholarship, there has been an emerging interest in the role of gender and sexuality in some of Melville's writings. Some critics, particularly those interested in gender studies, have explored the existence of male-dominant social structures in Melville's fiction. For example, Alvin Sandberg claimed that "The Paradise of Bachelors and the Tartarus of Maids" offers "an exploration of impotency, a portrayal of a man retreating to an all-male childhood to avoid confrontation with sexual manhood" from which the narrator engages in "congenial" digressions in heterogeneity. In line with this view Warren Rosenberg argues the homosocial "Paradise of Bachelors" is shown to be "superficial and sterile." David Harley Serlin observes in the second half of Melville's diptych, "The Tartarus of Maids," the narrator gives voice to the oppressed women he observes: "As other scholars have noted, the "slave" image here has two clear connotations. One describes the exploitation of the women's physical labor, and the other describes the exploitation of the women's reproductive organs. Of course, as models of women's oppression, the two are clearly intertwined." In the end the narrator is never fully able to come to terms with the contrasting masculine and feminine modalities. Issues of sexuality have been observed in other works as well. Rosenberg notes Taji, in "Mardi", and the protagonist in "Pierre" "think they are saving young "maidens in distress" (Yillah and Isabel) out of the purest of reasons but both are also conscious of a lurking sexual motive." When Taji kills the old priest holding Yillah captive, he states "remorse smote me hard; and like lightning I asked myself whether the death deed I had done was sprung of virtuous motive, the rescuing of a captive from thrall, or whether beneath the pretense I had engaged in this fatal affray for some other selfish purpose, the companionship of a beautiful maid." In "Pierre" the motive for his self-sacrifice for Isabel is admitted: "womanly beauty and not womanly ugliness invited him to champion the right." Rosenberg argues "This awareness of a double motive haunts both books and ultimately destroys their protagonists who would not fully acknowledge the dark underside of their idealism. The epistemological quest and the transcendental quest for love and belief are consequently sullied by the erotic."
Melville fully explores the theme of sexuality in his major poetical work "Clarel." When the narrator is separated from Ruth, with whom he has fallen in love, he is free to explore other sexual (and religious) possibilities before deciding at the end of the poem to participate in the ritualistic order marriage represents. In the course of the poem "he considers every form of sexual orientation - celibacy, homosexuality, hedonism, and heterosexuality - raising the same kinds of questions as when he considers Islam or Democracy."
Some passages and sections of Melville's works are either plainly homoerotic, or can be readily interpreted as such. Commonly given examples from Moby Dick are the interpretation of male bonding from what is termed the "marriage bed" episode involving Ishmael and Queequeg, and the "Squeeze of the Hand" chapter describing the camaraderie of sailors extracting spermaceti from a dead whale. Billy Budd's physical attractiveness is described in quasi-feminine terms: "As the Handsome Sailor, Billy Budd's position aboard the seventy-four was something analogous to that of a rustic beauty transplanted from the provinces and brought into competition with the highborn dames of the court." Though these elements (and others) suggest Melville was sexually interested in men, there is no biographical evidence that Melville ever engaged in sexual relations with men. Some critics argue that "Ahab's pursuit of the whale, which can be associated with the feminine in its shape, mystery, and in its naturalness, represents the ultimate fusion of the epistemological and sexual quest."
Law and literature
In recent years, Billy Budd has become a central text in the field of legal scholarship known as law and literature. In the novel, Billy, a handsome and popular young sailor impressed from the merchant vessel Rights of Man to serve aboard H.M.S. Bellipotent in the late 1790s, during the war between Revolutionary France and Great Britain and her monarchic allies, excites the enmity and hatred of the ship's master-at-arms, John Claggart. Claggart devises phony charges of mutiny and other crimes to level against Billy, and Captain the Honorable Edward Fairfax Vere institutes an informal inquiry, at which Billy convulsively strikes Claggart because his stammer prevents him from speaking. Vere immediately convenes a drumhead court-martial, at which, after serving as sole witness and as Billy's de facto counsel, Vere then urges the court to convict and sentence Billy to death. The trial is recounted in chapter 21, the longest chapter in the book, and that trial has become the focus of scholarly controversy: was Captain Vere a good man trapped by bad law, or did he deliberately distort and misrepresent the applicable law to condemn Billy to death? 
In 2010 it was announced that a new species of extinct giant sperm whale, Leviathan melvillei was named in honor of Melville. The paleontologists who discovered the fossil are all fans of Moby-Dick and wanted to dedicate their discovery to Melville.
References and further reading
Adler, Joyce (1981). War in Melville's Imagination. New York: New York University Press. ISBN 0814705758.
Arvin, Newton (2002). Herman Melville. New York: Grove Press. ISBN 0802138713.
Bryant, John (1986). A Companion to Melville Studies. Westport: Greenwood Press. ISBN 031323874X.
Bryant, John (1993). Melville and Repose: The Rhetoric of Humor in the American Renaissance. Oxford Oxfordshire: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0195077822.
Chamberlain, Ray (1985). Monsieur Melville. City: Coach House Pr. ISBN 0889102392.
Delbanco, Andrew (2005). Melville, His World and Work. New York: Knopf. ISBN 0375403140.
Edinger, Edward (1985). Melville's Moby Dick: An American Nekyia (Studies in Jungian Psychology By Jungian Analysts). New Haven: Inner City Books. ISBN 978-0919123700.
Garner, Stanton (1993). The Civil War World of Herman Melville. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas. ISBN 0700606025.
Goldner, Loren (2006). Herman Melville: Between Charlemagne and the Antemosaic Cosmic Man. Race, Class and the Crisis of Bourgeois Ideology in an American Renaissance Writer. Cambridge: Queequeg Publications. ISBN 0970030827.
Gretchko, John M. J. (1990). Melvillean Ambiguities. Cleveland: Falk & Bright.
Hardwick, Elizabeth (2000). Herman Melville. New York: Viking. ISBN 0670891584.
Hayford, Harrison (2003). Melville's Prisoners. Evanston: Northwestern University Press. ISBN 0810119730.
Levine, Robert (1998). The Cambridge Companion to Herman Melville. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 052155571X.
Martin, Robert (1986). Hero, Captain, and Stranger: Male Friendship, Social Critique, and Literary Form in the Sea Novels of Herman Melville. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press. ISBN 0807816728.
Miller, Perry (1956). The Raven and the Whale: The War of Words and Wits in the Era of Poe and Melville. New York: Harvest Book.
Parker, Hershel (1996). Herman Melville: A Biography. Volume I, 1819–1851. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press. ISBN 0801854288.
Parker, Hershel (2005). Herman Melville: A Biography. Volume II, 1851–1891. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press. ISBN 0801881862.
Renker, Elizabeth (1998). Strike through the Mask: Herman Melville and the Scene of Writing. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press. ISBN 0801858755.
Robertson-Lorant, Laurie (1996). Melville: A Biography. New York: Clarkson Potter/Publishers. ISBN 0517593149.
Rogin, Michael (1983). Subversive Genealogy: The Politics and Art of Herman Melville. New York: Knopf. ISBN 039450609X.
Rosenberg, Warren (1984). "'Deeper than Sappho': Melville, Poetry, and the Erotic". Modern Language Studies 14 (1).
Spark, Clare L. (2001). Hunting Captain Ahab: Psychological Warfare and the Melville Revival (rev.ed. paperback 2006 ed.). Kent: Kent State University Press. ISBN 0873388887.
Sullivan, Wilson (1972). New England Men of Letters.. New York: Atheneum. ISBN 0027886808.
Weisberg, Richard (1984). The Failure of the Word: The Lawyer as Protagonist in Modern Fiction. New Haven: Yale University Press. ISBN 0300045921.
1.^ Parker, Vol. 1, 23
2.^ Levine, Robert Steven (1998). The Cambridge companion to Herman Melville. Cambridge University Press. pp. xv. ISBN 0-521-55477-2. http://books.google.com/books?id=MadR43q1bRYC&source=gbs_navlinks_s.
3.^ Parker, Vol. I, 12
4.^ Sullivan, 117
5.^ David K. Titus, "Herman Melville at the Albany Academy", Melville Society Extracts, May 2003, no. 42, pp. 1, 4-10. Accessed August 4, 2008.
6.^ Miller, 5
7.^ Delbanco, 66
8.^ Delbanco, 91–92
9.^ In the essay Melville published on Hawthorne's 'Mosses' in the Literary Review of August 1850 he wrote: "To what infinite height of loving wonder and admiration I may yet be borne, when by repeatedly banquetting on these Mosses, I shall have thoroughly incorporated their whole stuff into my being,--that, I can not tell. But already I feel that this Hawthorne has dropped germinous seeds into my soul. He expands and deepens down, the more I contemplate him; and further, and further, shoots his strong New-England roots into the hot soil of my Southern soul."
10.^ Cheevers, Susan (2006). American Bloomsbury: Louisa May Alcott, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Margaret Fuller, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Henry David Thoreau; Their Lives, Their Loves, Their Work. Detroit: Thorndike Press. Large print edition. p. 196. ISBN 078629521X.
11.^ Parker, Vol. I, 131–132
12.^ See generally the collection of reviews of Melville's works edited by Watson G. Branch, Herman Melville: The Critical Heritage (London and New York: Routledge, 1997) (the reviews of The Confidence-Man appear in a section beginning at 369.)
13.^ Delbanco, 319
14.^ "Obituary". The New York Times (New York: The New York Times). 29 September 1891. http://query.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=9A0CE6D6153AE533A2575AC2A96F9C94609ED7CF. Retrieved 13 November 2009.
15.^ Collected Poems of Herman Melville, Ed. Howard P. Vincent. Chicago: Packard & Company and Hendricks House (1947), 446.
16.^ p. 287, Andrew Delbanco (2005), Melville: His World and Work. New York: Knopf. ISBN 0375403140
17.^ Delbanco, 7
18.^ Delbanco, 294
19.^ Clare L. Spark (2006). Hunting Captain Ahab: Psychological Warfare and the Melville Revival. Kent State University Press. p. 352. ISBN 031332140X.
20.^ Newton Arvin
21.^ About Northwestern University PressSearch at NU Press website
22.^ Serlin, David Harley. "The Dialogue of Gender in Melville's The Paradise of Bachelors and the Tartarus of Maids". These two writings are separate but often read together for the full effect of Melville's purpose. In both these works many phallic symbols are represented (such as the swords and snuff powder which represented a lack of semen in the bachelors.) Not only this, but in the Tartarus of Maids there was a detailed description of how the main character arrived at the Tartarus of Maids. This description was intended to resemble that of the vaginal canal. Modern Language Studies 25.2 (1995): 80-87
23.^ James Creech, Closet writing: The case of Melville's Pierre, 1993
24.^ Rosenberg, 70-78
25.^ Delblanco, Andrew. American Literary History 1992.
26.^ Sandberg, Alvin. "Erotic Patterns in 'The Paradise of Bachelors and the Tartarus of Maids.' " Literature and Psychology 18.1 (1968): 2-8.
27.^ Serlin, David Harley. "The Dialogue of Gender in Melville's The Paradise of Bachelors and the Tartarus of Maids" Modern Language Studies 25.2 (1995): 80-87
28.^ Melville, Herman. Mardi, ed. Tyrus Hillway. New Haven: College and University Press, 1973. p. 132.
29.^ Melville, Herman. "Pierre" New York: Grove Press, 1957. p. 151.
30.^ E. Haviland Miller, Melville, New York 1975.
31.^ Weisberg, Richard H. The Failure of the Word: The Lawyer as Protagonist in Modern Fiction (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1989), chapters 8 and 9.
32.^ Janet Fang (2010-06-30). "Call me Leviathan melvillei". Nature. http://www.nature.com/news/2010/100630/full/news.2010.322.html. Retrieved 2010-06-30.
33.^ Pallab Ghosh (2010-06-30). "'Sea monster' whale fossil unearthed". BBC. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/science_and_environment/10461066.stm. Retrieved 2010-06-30.
Thursday, September 16, 2010
"The Pit and the Pendulum" is a short story written by Edgar Allan Poe and first published in 1842. The story is about the torments endured by a prisoner of the Spanish Inquisition, though Poe skews historical facts. The narrator of the story describes his experience being tortured. The story is especially effective at inspiring fear in the reader because of its heavy focus on the senses, such as sound, emphasizing its reality, unlike many of Poe's stories which are aided by the supernatural. The traditional elements established in popular horror tales at the time are followed, but critical reception has been mixed.
The story takes place during the Spanish Inquisition. At the beginning of the story an unnamed narrator is brought to trial before various sinister judges. Poe provides no explanation of why he is there or for what he has been arrested. Before him are seven tall white candles on a table, and, as they melt, his hopes of survival also diminish. He is condemned to death and finds himself in a pitch black compartment. At first the prisoner thinks that he is locked in a tomb, but he discovers that he is in a cell. He decides to explore the cell by placing a hem from his robe against a wall so he can count the paces around the room; however, he faints before being able to measure the whole perimeter.
When the prisoner awakens he discovers food and water near by. He gets back up and tries to measure the prison again, finding that the perimeter measures one hundred steps. While crossing the room he slips on the hem of his robe. He discovers that if he had not tripped he would have walked into a deep pit with water residing on the bottom in the center of the cell.
After losing consciousness again the narrator discovers that the prison is slightly illuminated and that he is bound to a wooden board by ropes. He looks up in horror to see a painted picture of Father Time on the ceiling; hanging from the figure is a gigantic scythe-like pendulum swinging slowly back and forth. The pendulum is inexorably sliding downwards and will eventually kill him. However the condemned man is able to attract rats to his bonds with meat left for him to eat and they start chewing through the ropes. As the pendulum reaches a point inches above his heart, the prisoner breaks free of the ropes and watches as the pendulum is drawn back to the ceiling.
He then sees that the walls have become red-hot and begun moving inwards, driving him into the center of the room and towards the brink of the pit. As he gazes into the pit, he decides that no fate could be worse than falling into it. It is implied by the text that the narrator fears what he sees at the bottom of the pit, or perhaps is frightened by its depth. The exact cause of his fear is not clearly stated. However, as the narrator moves back from the pit, he sees that the red-hot walls are leaving him with no foothold. As the prisoner begins to fall into the pit, he hears human voices. The walls rush back and an arm catches him. The French Army has taken Toledo and the Inquisition is in the hands of its enemies.
Poe takes dramatic license with history in this story. The rescuers are led by Napoleon's General Lasalle (who was not, however, in command of the French occupation of Toledo) and this places the action during the Peninsular War, centuries after the height of the Spanish Inquisition and at a time when it had lost much of its power. The elaborate tortures of this story have no historic parallels in the activity of the Spanish Inquisition in any century, let alone the nineteenth. The Inquisition was, however, abolished during the period of French intervention (1808–13).
Poe places a Latin epigraph before the story, describing it as "a quatrain composed for the gates of a market to be erected upon the site of the Jacobin Club House at Paris." The epigraph was not Poe's invention; such an inscription had been reported, no later than 1803, as having been composed with the intention (possibly facetious) of having it placed on the site , and it had appeared, without attribution, as an item of trivia in the 1836 Southern Literary Messenger, a periodical to which Poe contributed .
It does not appear, however, that the market was ever built as intended. Charles Baudelaire, a noted French writer who translated Poe's works into French and who was largely inspired by him, said that the building on the site of the Old Jacobin Club had no gates and, therefore, no inscription.
"The Pit and the Pendulum" is really a study of the effect terror has on the narrator, starting with the opening line that suggests he is already suffering from death anxiety ("I was sick—sick unto death with that long agony") and, shortly thereafter, when he loses consciousness upon receiving the death sentence. Such anxiety is ironic to the reader, who knows of the narrator's implicit survival: the text refers to the black-robed judges having lips "whiter than the sheet upon which I trace these words", showing that he himself is writing the story after the events have happened. What makes the story particularly effective at evoking terror is in its lack of supernatural elements; the action taking place is real and not imagined. The "reality" of the story is enhanced through Poe's focus on sensation: the dungeon is airless and unlit, the narrator is subject to thirst and starvation, he is swarmed by rats, the closing walls are red-hot metal and, of course, the razor-sharp pendulum threatens to slice into the narrator. The narrator experiences the blade mostly through sound as it "hissed" while swinging. Poe further emphasizes this with words like "surcingle," "cessation," "crescent," "scimitar," and various forms of sibilance. "The Pit and the Pendulum" can be considered a serious re-telling of the satirical "A Predicament." In that story, a similar "scythe" slowly (and comically) removes the narrator's head. That action has been re-imagined with a pendulum preparing to slice through the narrator's chest.
Poe was following an established model of terror writing of his day, often seen in Blackwood's Magazine (a formula he mocks in "A Predicament"). Those stories, however, often focused on chance occurrences or personal vengeance as a source of terror. Poe may have been inspired to focus on the purposeful impersonal torture in part by Juan Antonio Llorente's History of the Spanish Inquisition, first published in 1817. It has also been suggested that Poe's "pit" was inspired by a translation of the Koran (Poe had referenced the Koran also in "Al Aaraaf" and "Israfel") by George Sale. Poe was familiar with Sale, and even mentioned him by name in a note in his story "The Thousand-and-Second Tale of Scheherazade." Sale's translation included commentary and, in one of those notes, refers to an allegedly common form of torture and execution by "throwing [people] into a glowing pit of fire, whence he had the opprobrious appellation of the Lord of the Pit." In the Koran itself, in Sura (Chapter) 85, "The Celestial Signs," a passage reads: "...cursed were the contrivers of the pit, of fire supplied with the fuel... and they afflicted them for no other reason, but because they believed in the mighty, the glorious God." Poe is also considered to have been influenced by William Mudford's The Iron Shroud, a short story about an iron torture chamber which shrinks through mechanical action and eventually crushes the victim inside. Poe apparently got the idea for the shrinking chamber in the "Pit and the Pendulum" after Mudford's story was published in Blackwood's magazine in 1830.
Publication and response
"The Pit and the Pendulum" was included in The Gift: A Christmas and New Year's Present for 1843, published by Carey and Hart. It was slightly revised for a republication in the May 17, 1845 issue of the Broadway Journal.
William Butler Yeats was generally critical of Poe, calling him "vulgar." Of "The Pit and the Pendulum" in particular he said, "[it does] not seem to me to have permanent literary value of any kind... Analyse the Pit and the Pendulum and you find an appeal to the nerves by tawdry physical affrightments."
Film and television
Several film adaptations of the story have been produced, including the early French language film Le Puits et le pendule in 1909 by Henri Desfontaines. The first English language adaptation was in 1913, directed by Alice Guy Blanche.
The 1961 film The Pit and the Pendulum directed by Roger Corman starring Vincent Price and Barbara Steele, like the other installments in the Corman/Price "Poe Cycle," bears minimal resemblance to the Poe story: the torture apparatus of the title makes its appearance only in the final 10 minutes of the film.
In 1983, Czech Surrealist Jan Švankmajer directed a 15-minute short film called The Pendulum, the Pit and Hope, based on this story and the short story "A Torture by Hope" by Villiers de l'Isle-Adam. It is a fairly faithful adaptation of both stories, featuring a unique first-person camera perspective and segments of Švankmajer's trademark stop-motion and cut-out animation (in an otherwise live action film). Most of the art design was done by his wife, Eva Švankmajerová
In 1991 a film version of the story, directed by Stuart Gordon and starring Lance Henriksen, was released. The plot was altered to a love story set in Spain in 1492.
In 2006 a stop-motion animated version of the story "The Pit and the Pendulum" was completed under the 'Ray Harryhausen Presents' banner. The film was executively produced by Ray Harryhausen and Fred Fuchs, directed by Marc Lougee, produced by Susan Ma and Marc Lougee, and funded by Bravo!FACT.
The 2007 Nightwish album Dark Passion Play includes a song inspired by "The Pit and the Pendulum." It's called "The Poet and the Pendulum." Nightwish songwriter Tuomas Holopainen said it's his favorite Nightwish song.
The 2009 horror film directed by David DeCoteau bears little resemblance to the original story but, like the 1961 version, utilizes the large swinging pendulum in the penultimate scene. The film follows a group of university students who visit a hypnotherapy institute lorded over by a sinister hypnotist who wants to use the students to experiment with the possibility of breaking the pain threshold.
3.^ Sova, Dawn B. Edgar Allan Poe: A to Z. New York: Checkmark Books, 2001. ISBN 081604161X p. 188-9
4.^ Quinn, Arthur Hobson. Edgar Allan Poe: A Critical Biography. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1998. p. 359. ISBN 0801857309
5.^ Kennedy, J. Gerald. Poe, Death, and the Life of Writing. Yale University Press, 1987. p. 53. ISBN 0300037732
6.^ Kennedy, J. Gerald. Poe, Death, and the Life of Writing. Yale University Press, 1987. p. 32. ISBN 0300037732
7.^ Fisher, Benjamin F. "Poe and the Gothic Tradition" as collected in The Cambridge Companion to Edgar Allan Poe, Kevin J. Hayes, ed. Cambridge, UK: Oxford University Press, 2002. p. 84 ISBN 0521797276
8.^ Silverman, Kenneth. Edgar A. Poe: Mournful and Never-ending Remembrance. New York: Harper Perennial, 1991. p. 204 ISBN 0060923318
9.^ Silverman, Kenneth. Edgar A. Poe: Mournful and Never-ending Remembrance. New York: Harper Perennial, 1991. p. 206 ISBN 0060923318
10.^ Goddu, Teresa A. "Poe, sensationalism, and slavery", as collected in The Cambridge Companion to Edgar Allan Poe, Kevin J. Hayes, ed. Cambridge, UK: Oxford University Press, 2002. p. 104 ISBN 0521797276
11.^ Alterton, Margaret. "An Additional Source for Poe's 'The Pit and the Pendulum'" from Modern Language Notes, Vol. 48, No. 6 (Jun., 1933), p. 349
12.^ Murtuza, Athar. "An Arabian Source for Poe's "The Pit and the Pendulum" from Poe Studies, vol. V, no. 2, December 1972, p. 52
13.^ The Iron Shroud from Project Gutenberg
14.^ Online Biography of William Mudford from the Dictionary of Literary Biography hosted by BookRags p. 2
15.^ Oxford Journals Critique of William Mudford Notes and Queries July 31, 1943 p. 83
16.^ Title The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket, and Related Tales The world's classics Oxford World's Classics Author Edgar Allan Poe Editor J. Gerald Kennedy Edition reissue, illustrated Publisher Oxford University Press, 1998 ISBN 0192837710, ISBN 9780192837714 Length 336 pages Quote: "Explanatory Note #254: Poe apparently got the idea for his shrinking chamber from an 1830 Blackwood's story titled the 'Iron Shroud'"
17.^ Sova, Dawn B. Edgar Allan Poe: A to Z. New York: Checkmark Books, 2001. ISBN 081604161X p. 188
18.^ Meyers, Jeffrey. Edgar Allan Poe: His Life and Legacy. New York: Cooper Square Press, 1992. ISBN 0815410387 p. 274
19.^ Sova, Dawn B. Edgar Allan Poe: A to Z. New York: Checkmark Books, 2001. ISBN 081604161X p. 189
20.^ 2006 stop motion short film The Pit and the Pendulum
Tomás de Torquemada, O.P. (1420 – September 16, 1498) was a fifteenth century Spanish Dominican friar, first Inquisitor General of Spain, and confessor to crypto-Jews and crypto-Muslims of Spain. He was one of the chief supporters of the Alhambra Decree, which expelled the Jews from Spain in 1492. The number of autos-de-fé during Torquemada's tenure as Inquisitor General have been hotly debated over the years. Today, there is a general consensus that about 2000 people were burned by the Inquisition in the whole of Spain between 1480 and 1530, while Torquemada was Grand Inquisitor from 1483 until his death in 1498.
Tomás de Torquemada was born in Valladolid, Castile-Leon, Spain. He was the Grand Inquisitor of Spain for many years, leaving to posterity an extraordinary picture of fanaticism and implacability. In the fifteen years of his direction the Spanish Inquisition grew from the single tribunal at Seville to a network of two dozen 'Holy Office'."
After early service as a monk and cook at the Dominican monastery in Valladolid, Torquemada eventually became advisor to the monarchs — Ferdinand and Isabella. He was especially well regarded by Queen Isabella, whose confessor he had been, and who had him appointed Inquisitor General in 1483. In 1492 he was one of the chief supporters of the Alhambra decree, which resulted in the mass expulsion of Jews from Spain.
Every Spanish Christian over the age of twelve (for girls) and fourteen (for boys) was accountable to the Inquisition. Those who had converted from Judaism or Islam but who were suspected of secretly practising their old rites, as well as others holding or acting on religious views contrary to Catholicism, were targeted. Anyone who spoke against the Inquisition could fall under suspicion - as did saints Teresa of Avila and John of the Cross. To stem the spread of heresy and anti-Catholicism, Torquemada promoted the burning of non-Catholic literature, especially the Talmud and, after the final defeat of the Moors at Granada in 1492, Arabic books as well.
Although the Inquisition is often viewed as being directed against Jews, in fact it had no jurisdiction or authority over unconverted Jews, or Muslims. Only baptised Christians faced investigation; and of those called to appear before the Holy Office, most were released after their first hearing without further incident.
While the Spanish Inquisition is generally denounced by historians for its use of torture, anonymous denunciation, and handing over convicted heretics to the government (auto-da-fe) for punishment, little of this can be described as unusual for the times. But, accusations of excess can be supported by reference to Pope Sixtus IV's observation, early in 1482 (before Torquemada's appointment as Grand Inquisitor) that the Inquisitional Office at Seville, "without observing juridical prescriptions, have detained many persons in violation of justice, punishing them by severe tortures and imputing to them, without foundation, the crime of heresy, and despoiling of their wealth those sentenced to death, in such form that a great number of them have come to the Apostolic See, fleeing from such excessive rigor and protesting their orthodoxy."
So hated did he become that at one point Torquemada traveled with a bodyguard of 50 mounted guards and 250 armed men. After 15 years as Spain's Grand Inquisitor, he died in 1498 in Ávila. For his role in the Spanish Inquisition, Torquemada's name has become a byword for fanaticism in the service of the Catholic religion.
Secrecy being one of the keys to the workings of the Inquisition, Torquemada's manual of instructions (Copilacion de las Instruciones del Offico de la Sancta Inquisicion) did not appear publicly in print until 1576, when it was published in Madrid.
In 1832, Torquemada's tomb was ransacked, his bones stolen and burnt to ashes.
Torquemada appears to have had Jewish ancestry: the contemporary historian Hernando del Pulgar, writing of Torquemada's uncle Juan de Torquemada, said that his ancestor Alvar Fernández de Torquemada had married a first-generation Jewish conversa (convert). Del Pulgar was a converso himself. Also, according to biographer Thomas Hope's book, Torquemada, Torquemada's grandmother was a conversa.
Torquemada in fiction
The main villain, Torquemada (comics), in the 2000 AD Strip Nemesis the Warlock was inspired by, and named after Torquemada
Brooke McEldowney's Pibgorn webcomic has a minor character, "Tom Torquemada," who is quite literally a game show host from Hell.
Dostoevsky's The Brothers Karamazov, features a famous parable involving Christ coming back to Seville in the days of the Spanish Inquisition, and being confronted by the Grand Inquisitor.
Torquemada, a play by Victor Hugo.
Torquemada, an opera by Zoltan Demme based on the above play by Victor Hugo.
Torquemada, an opera by Nino Rota based on a libretto by Ernesto Trucchi.
Torquemada, The Theologian's Tale from Part One of Tales of a Wayside Inn, by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.
In Stuart Gordon's 1990 film of The Pit and the Pendulum, Lance Henriksen portrays the Grand Inquisitor Torquemada.
Marlon Brando portrayed Torquemada in the film Christopher Columbus: The Discovery (1992).
In the Frank Herbert novel God Emperor of Dune, Leto II lectures his majordomo Moneo on religious despotism. He names Torquemada as the epitome of the violent fanaticism which shadows the phenomenon, stating that the Jesuits (who in fact did not yet exist in the time of Torquemada) were the best at maintaining a religious power base. He refers to Torquemada as one who "made living torches out of those who disagreed with him". Leto II had him expunged from written history because he was "an obscenity". In Leto II's reign as God Emperor, memory of Torquemada lies only in Leto's inner lives.
Tomás de Torquemada is one of the main protagonists of Jerzy Andrzejewski's novel And Darkness Covered the Earth (also translated as The Inquisitors).
In the miniature wargame, Warhammer 40,000 there is an Inquisitor of the Ordo Malleus named Torquemada Coteaz.
Tomás de Torquemada is one of the main characters of Gilbert Sinoué's novel Le livre de saphir.
Mel Brooks portrayed Torquemada in the musical number "The Inquisition" in the 1981 comedy movie History of the World, Part I. During the scene about the Spanish Inquisition, an inquisitor introduces Torquemada by saying, "Torquemada - do not implore him for compassion. Torquemada - do not beg him for forgiveness. Torquemada - do not ask him for mercy. Let's face it, you can't Torquemada (talk him out of) anything!"
English stoner/doom metal band Electric Wizard released the song "Torquemada '71" on their 2007 album, Witchcult Today.
The villainous Grand Inquisitor in the children's novel Castle Storm is named "Torca Marda".
In the film, Meet the Parents, Ben Stiller's character compares Torquemada and the Grand Inquisition to being questioned by his future in-laws.
Requiem Chevalier Vampire, a graphic novel set in Hell by Pat Mills and Olivier Ledroit, features Torquemada as a large, bloodthirsty werewolf.
In Histeria!, he appears as the host of an inquisition gameshow called "Convert Or Die".
Angeli Di Pietra, a Belgian Powerfolk band have a song entitled "Torquemada" on their album "Storm Over Scaldis" (2009).
The Spanish heavy metal band Avalanch released the song "Torquemada" on their "Llanto De Un Héroe" album.
In the video game Assassin's Creed 2: Discovery, it is discovered that he is a Templar.
In the 2010 video game Red Dead Redemption there is a Mexican army base named Torquemada, it is very likely that it is named after Tomás de Torquemada. In the game the Mexican army are a dishonorable and cruel leadership. The army faces a revolution because of this.
In Ray Bradbury's short story The Playground (2001), Charles Underhill, the protagonist, believes that there should be a sign nailed outside the Playground proclaiming it "TORQUEMADA'S GREEN."
1.^ Henry Kamen,Inkwizycja Hiszpańska, Państwowy Instytut Wydawniczy, 2005, p. 62; Helen Rawlings, The Spanish Inquisition, 2004, p. 15; William Monter, Anticlericalism and the early Spanish Inquisition, [in:] Anticlericalism in Late Medieval and Early Modern Europe, BRILL, 1993, p. 238
2.^ see Longhurst
Rafael Sabatini, Torquemada and the Spanish Inquisition, (Bretano's 1913; reprinted BiblioLife, 2009). Contains English translation of parts of the "Instruciones".
William Thomas Walsh, Characters of the Inquisition, (Tan Books and Publishers, 1987). ISBN 0895553260
Henry Kamen, The Spanish Inquisition: A Historical Revision, (Yale University Press, 1999). ISBN 0300078803
Alphonsus Maria Duran, Why Apologize for the Spanish Inquisition?, (Eric Gladkowski, 2000). ISBN 0970223501
Enid A. Goldberg & Norman Itzkowitz, "Tomas de Torquemada" (A Wicked History), (Scholastic Books, 2008) ISBN 143510322X
Thomas Torquemada, article in 1911 Britannica
The Age of Torquemada, by John Edward Longhurst (1962)
Letters on the Spanish Inquisition by Joseph de Maistre
The Scales of Good and Evil by Cliff Pickover