Melville Biography by Hershel Parker
An Inside Narrative

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"Melville Biography" is a superb contribution to a fledgling field: the study of the writing of literary lives. To a young academic with even the faintest interest in biography, Mr. Parker's book may come as a revelation...
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Synopsis

Melville Biography: An Inside Narrative is Hershel Parker’s history of the writing of Melville biographies, enriched by his intimate working relationships with great Melvilleans, dead and living. The first part is a mesmerizing autobiographical account of what went into creating his award-winning two-volume life of Herman Melville. Next, Parker traces six decades the persistent war New Critics have waged against biographical scholarship on Melville. American literary critics, he finds, impose New Critical theories of organic unity on Melville’s disrupted career even while truncating his body of work and minimizing his aesthetic interests. Parker celebrates the "divine amateurs" who use new technology to discover dazzling Melville stories and also lauds the writers of literature blogs as potential redeemers of academic and mainstream media reviewing. In the third part, Parker invites readers into his biographical workshop and challenges them with ambitious research assignments. Throughout this bold book, Parker seeks to reinvigorate the all-but-lost art of scholarly literary criticism and biography.

 

About Hershel Parker

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Hershel Parker is the general editor of the Northwestern-Newberry Edition of The Writings of Herman Melville published by Northwestern University Press in alliance with the Newberry Library and the Center for Scholarly Editions of the Modern Language Association. Parker is the author of the comprehensive two-volume Herman Melville: A Biography.
 
Published January 15, 2013 by Northwestern University Press. 587 pages
Genres: History, Literature & Fiction. Fiction
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Excellent
Reviewed by Carl Rollyson on Mar 29 2013

"Melville Biography" is a superb contribution to a fledgling field: the study of the writing of literary lives. To a young academic with even the faintest interest in biography, Mr. Parker's book may come as a revelation...

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