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From the Mast-Head he new journal before you takes its name from a mythical beast, which is to say it has something of an indeterminate nature. In Hebrew the Tword Leviathan might mean great fish, or serpent, or crocodile, but probably not “whale.” For Melville, embarked in mid-June of 1850 upon the writing of a “romance of adventure, founded upon certain wild legends in the Southern Sperm Whale Fisheries,” the word Leviathan initially conjured up visions of a fixed thing, a sperm whale, and a white one, too. But readers of Moby-Dick have for almost 150 years now declared that his Leviathan is even more indeterminate than lexicographers can imagine. With this journal, “Leviathan”now takes on a new meaning. Its primary function, as evident in the articles, notes, and reviews featured in this inaugural issue, is to provide a forum for scholars and critics sounding out new depths in the study of Melville’slife, world, works, and impact. Leviathan is an outgrowth of its smaller companion Extracts, which for over 25 years has served several overlapping generations of Melvilleans as a clearinghouse for new biographical findings, scholarly updates, Melville Societynews, and book reviews. In recent years, the critical interest in Melville (always strong and elemental to the study of literature and culture) has grown even stronger throughout the general academic community. The Melville Society’s activities, especially since the 1991 Melville Centennial (recorded in MelvilleS, Evermoving Dawn, ed. John Bryant and Robert Milder), have also expanded to include international conferences, a committee for distributing Melville books abroad, a search for a Melville cultural center, the on-line Melville discussion group Ishmail, and the Melville Electronic Library (MEL) project. Not surprisingly , the volume of articles and notes submitted to Extracts has grown, and grown beyond the capacity of its newsletter format to contain those accepted for publication. With its enlarged format, Leviathan will be able to accommodate the backlog of articles. At the same time, it will allow writers to offer more richly developed versions of their ideas. Leviathan is designed to complement not replace Extracts. Both are committed to excellence in scholarship and writing. Extracts will continue to offer timely articles and notes updating scholarship and exploring Melville in context. Appearing twice a year in February and July, it will also report Melville Society news, pedagogical matters, and conference abstracts. Leviathan will also appear semiannually in March and October. Its goal is to demonstrate the vital interconnections between scholarship and criticism in Melville studies. Its subject matter? That shall be as large, as deep, as rnultivalent and polysemous as Leviathan itself, reflecting the diverse, international, 2 L E V I A T H A N F R O M T H E M A S T - H E A D and cross-cultural appeal of Melville, the visuality, texuality, and contextuality of Melville, the multi-disciplinariness of Melville, the biographical and the editorial problems of Melville, the sources and the influences of Melville. The distinguished board of advisers and editors, which shall advise the editor in the direction of its publications and review submissions for both Leviathan and Extracts, reflects our commitment to depth and diversity, the traditional and the new. Finally,whether Leviathan shall sink or swim is up to you “loose-fish’’ known as.writers and readers, whose minds and support we relish. Like Melville, we love any and all “who dive, [for] any fish can swim near the surface , but it takes a great whale to go down stairs five miles or more.” So, like Leviathan, we wait, downstairs, for your submissions. Let them sink to us, let us put them in our belly, and let us rise, periodically, to spew them on to dry land. Let this Leviathan be no ordinary fish.* --John Bryant *The editor and executive board of the Melville Society wishes to thank Hofstra University for itsfinancial support of Leviathan, and in particulaq Vice President Richard Block and Provost Herman Berlinerfor their continued encouragement. A J O U R N A L O F M E L V I L L Es T U D I E S 3 ...


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