Abstract

This essay looks into Battle-Pieces and Aspects of the War (1866) to explore Melville’s poetics of counter-hagiography within single and clustered poems on Civil War officers: Hancock and Grant, Sheridan and Sherman, Lyon, Lee and McClellan, and Bartlett. Keeping close to scholarship on the status of heroes and heroism in Melville’s war poetry, I aim through close reading to elucidate Melville’s strategies for subtly undoing heroism even within his ostensibly hero-making poems. At the advent of peace, I argue, Melville’s officer poems refigure the ancient rites of praise charged to the war poet and introduce knowledge corrosive to the nation’s too-ardent wartime reliance on the theory of great men.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1750-1849
Print ISSN
1525-6995
Pages
pp. 43-62
Launched on MUSE
2015-10-21
Open Access
No
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