This essay reads the "Dog-King" sketch from "The Encantadas, or Enchanted Isles" (1854) as an allegory of trans-American authoritarian violence, and as a deconstruction of the narrative means used to mitigate that violence. Tarnmoor, the narrative persona to whom Melville attributes "The Encantadas" as it first appeared in Putnam's, curiously expresses sympathy for this "unfortunate Creole" who uses vicious dogs to police his Galápagos colony until his subjects revolt and force him into exile. I argue that Tarnmoor's "creole sympathies"—a phrase I use to describe how white Americans across the hemisphere related to each other affectively and materially—reflect not only the ambivalence of the antebellum United States regarding Spanish America but also its investment in maintaining white creole authority in the face of black and indigenous resistance. I uncover a number of probable sources in order to demonstrate the hemispheric resonances of the sketch, from the immediate scope of the Galápagos and post-independence Spanish America, to the deeper history of canine warfare in the Americas, beginning with Columbus and extending to Zachary Taylor. Finally, I consider the place of Cuba itself as a locus of "creole sympathies" as well as anxieties about the spread of non-white rebellion.


Additional Information

Print ISSN
pp. 71-93
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.