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2013 | 22/1 | 5-18
Article title

Herman Melville’s Pierre and the Allegory of Empire

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Content
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EN
Abstracts
EN
The article explores Herman Melville’s use of allegory in the critique of American expansionism in his novel Pierre. Allegorical structures encoded in this text are identified through references to Thomas Cole’s cycle of manifestly allegorical paintings entitled The Course of Empire. Melville’s novel and Cole’s pictures reveal meaningful similarities. The writer and the painter both use spatial and temporal constructions as a way of conveying ideological senses. In this respect, of crucial significance is a transition from the pastoral to the urban setting and imagery to be found in the novel and in the paintings. In accordance with the principle of allegory, Melville and Cole employ specific methods of universalizing human experience, although they create markedly different combinations of universality and historicity. Cole dehistoricizes his paintings, at the same time suggesting important historical analogies, whereas Melville evidently puts stress on historical contingency. Ultimately, they both foreground the deterministic dimension of individual and collective existence, thus raising questions about the problematic nature of human agency in an imperial culture.
Contributors
author
  • University of Warsaw
References
  • Dimock, Wai-chee. 1989. Empire for Liberty: Melville and the Poetics of Individualism. Princeton: Princeton University Press.
  • Emerson, Ralph Waldo. 1983. Essays and Lectures. Ed. Joel Porte. New York: The Library of America.
  • Fussell, Edwin. 1965. Frontier: American Literature and the American West. Princeton: Princeton University Press.
  • McLoughlin, Michael. 2003. Dead Letters to the New World: Melville, Emerson and American Transcendentalism. New York and London: Routledge.
  • Melville, Herman. 1996 [1852]. Pierre or The Ambiguities. Intro. by William C. Spengemann. New York: Penguin Books.
  • Miller, Angela. 1993. The Empire of the Eye: Landscape Representations and American Cultural Politics, 1825–1875. Ithaca and London: Cornell University Press.
  • Noble, Louis LeGrand. 1964 [1856]. The Life and Works of Thomas Cole. Ed. Elliot S. Vesell. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.
  • Perkins, Bradford. 1993. The Cambridge History of American Foreign Relations. Vol. I: The Creation of a Republican Empire, 1776–1865. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Pfluger, Carl. 1993 “The Views and Visions of Thomas Cole.” The Hudson Review 47.4 (Winter 1995): 629–635.
  • Richard, Carl J. 2009. Golden Age of the Classics in America: Greece, Rome, and the Antebellum United States. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.
  • Robillard, Douglas. 1997. Melville and the Visual Arts: Ionian Form, Venetian Tint. Kent: The Kent State University Press.
  • Rogin, Michael Paul. 1983. Subversive Genealogy: The Politics and Art of Herman Melville. Berkeley, Los Angeles, London: University of California Press.
  • Spanos, William V. 2008. Herman Melville and the American Calling: The Fiction after Moby-Dick, 1851–1857. New York: SUNY Press.
  • Wallach, Alan P. 1968. “Cole, Byron, and the Course of Empire.” The Art Bulletin 50.4 (December 1968): 375–379.
  • Yablon, Nick. 2010. Untimely Ruins: An Archaeology of American Urban Modernity, 1819–1919. Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press.
Document Type
Publication order reference
Identifiers
YADDA identifier
bwmeta1.element.desklight-d97b1897-f365-4f22-9a8d-1f4ba2efae3f
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