Abstract

ABSTRACT:

This essay recovers Melville’s long-neglected novel Mardi, arguing that it is an essential text for understanding Melville’s relationship to nineteenth-century science. Rich with “sedimentary strata” and imagery of terrestrial “treasures” – gold, silver, diamonds, granite – Mardi reveals Melville thinking on a planetary scale through the emerging sciences of geology, mineralogy, and astronomy. In particular, the strange presence of minerals in Mardi initiates an alternate trajectory within Melville’s writing, one that crisscrosses the barriers between art and science, life and nonlife, literary form and “earthy matter.” Mardi opens new sightlines into Melville’s early career that capture the significance of nineteenth-century American literature for our own precarious moment.

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Additional Information

ISSN
2166-7438
Print ISSN
2166-742X
Pages
pp. 155-183
Launched on MUSE
2019-07-02
Open Access
No
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