Melville and Repose
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Melville and Repose : The Rhetoric of Humor in the American Renaissance

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Description

John Bryant's book is a strong and significant argument for the centrality of humor in Melville's novels. The purpose of Melville and Repose is dual: to ground the uses of romantic humor in Melville in sensitive readings of contemporaneous European and American writings, and to offer a definitive account of the comic as the shaping force of Melville's narrative voice throughout the major phase of his literary career. Arguing that Melville saw writing as a series of attempts to reach an unreachable union of word and thought ("voicing the voiceless"), Bryant shows how Melville attempted to place the reader in an equivalent condition of "tense repose." He posits that Melville incorporated laughter into his writing as a means of teasing the reader into deeper thought. To this end, Melville fused a "rhetoric of geniality" and "picturesque sensibility" adopted from the British with a "rhetoric of deceit" borrowed from the American tall tale, thus creating his own amiably cosmopolitan "rhetoric of aesthetic repose." Looking closely at Typee, Moby Dick, and The Confidence-Man, Bryant offers unique and ground-breaking readings of Melville's work - particularly with respect to the rhetoric of humor and repose, the picturesque, and cosmopolitanism. Thorough research into American culture and recent Melville manuscript findings, an engaging style, and full, scholarly readings combine to make this historicist study a welcome addition to the libraries of Americanists and Melville scholars and enthusiasts.show more

Product details

  • Hardback | 330 pages
  • 162.1 x 237.7 x 25.9mm | 712.15g
  • Oxford University Press Inc
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • 0195077822
  • 9780195077827

Review quote

Written in a lively and engaging style but incorporating an impressive degree of scholarly research, not only into the corpus of Melville scholarship but also the history and culture of the Renaissance, Melville and Repose is a major contribution to thought about the nature of America's first literary flowering. * American Studies vol 29 part 1 *show more

Back cover copy

John Bryant's book is a strong and significant argument for the centrality of humor in Melville's novels. The purpose of Melville and Repose is dual: to ground the uses of romantic humor in Melville in sensitive readings of contemporaneous European and American writings, and to offer a definitive account of the comic as the shaping force of Melville's narrative voice throughout the major phase of his literary career. Arguing that Melville saw writing as a series of attempts to reach an unreachable union of word and thought ("voicing the voiceless"), Bryant shows how Melville attempted to place the reader in an equivalent condition of "tense repose". He posits that Melville incorporated laughter into his writing as a means of teasing the reader into deeper thought. To this end, Melville fused a "rhetoric of geniality" and "picturesque sensibility" adopted from the British with a "rhetoric of deceit" borrowed from the American tall tale, thus creating his own amiably cosmopolitan "rhetoric of aesthetic repose". Looking closely at Typee, Moby Dick, and The Confidence-Man, Bryant offers unique and ground-breaking readings of Melville's work - particularly with respect to the rhetoric of humor and repose, the picturesque, and cosmopolitanism. Thorough research into American culture and recent Melville manuscript findings, an engaging style, and full, scholarly readings combine to make this historicist study a welcome addition to the libraries of Americanists and Melville scholars and enthusiasts.show more