Bible Leaves! Bible Leaves! Hellenism and Hebraism in Melville's Moby-Dick

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Bible Leaves! Bible Leaves! Hellenism and Hebraism in Melville's Moby-Dick

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Title: Bible Leaves! Bible Leaves! Hellenism and Hebraism in Melville's Moby-Dick
Author: New, Elisa
Citation: New, Elisa. 1998. Bible leaves! Bible leaves! Hellenism and hebraism in Melville's Moby-Dick. Poetics Today 19(2): 281-303.
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Abstract: "'Bible Leaves! Bible Leaves!': Hebraism and Hellenism in Melville's Moby-Dick" argues that Herman Melville is Hellenism's severest American critic, and his greatest book, a sustained defense of the Hebraic "letter." Using a range of devices to link his monomaniac, Ahab, with the Greek and Christian subordination of history to reason, Melville exposes the damage to historical knowledge, as well as the characterological and institutional damages, that too singleminded a pursuit of the "spirit" may wreak: In Melville's version, Unitarian ministers and revivalist preachers as well as his own later, allegorizing critics join with Ahab in violent depredations on historical truth. On the other hand, Ishmael, as the essay goes on to argue, is Melville's Hebraist par excellence. Melville draws on Carlyle, on John Kitto's classically historicist Cyclopaedia of Biblical Literature, and on the Book of Ecclesiastes to fashion Ishmael as a hero of Hebraic restraint and a champion of Hebraic prolixity. Moby-Dick, the great whale, is also Moby-Dick, the redoubtable text, which, in surviving Ahab's assault, sustains the viability of the letter and of history beyond the reach of reason.
Published Version: http://dx.doi.org/10.2307/1773443
Terms of Use: This article is made available under the terms and conditions applicable to Other Posted Material, as set forth at http://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:dash.current.terms-of-use#LAA
Citable link to this page: http://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:4726201

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  • FAS Scholarly Articles [7106]
    Peer reviewed scholarly articles from the Faculty of Arts and Sciences of Harvard University
 
 

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