Abstract

Abstract:

Although celebrated as a masterpiece, this greatest work of American fiction was most truly described by Melville as a “final hash.” The phrase is important because it goes to the heart of Melville’s commitment to a literature whose “topmost” aspiration was, in Beckett’s famous declaration, to “fail better.” Melville’s “quarrels” with God, America, and fiction are all related to this sublime and paradoxical ideal. Moby-Dick is not a final hash by intention but by necessity. It is a realized forecast of Laura Riding Jackson’s late-twentieth-century view of “the common risks of language, where failure stalks in every word.”

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Additional Information

ISSN
1750-1849
Print ISSN
1525-6995
Pages
pp. 43-67
Launched on MUSE
2019-07-12
Open Access
No
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