Cover image for Melville's muse : literary creation & the forms of philosophical fiction
Melville's muse : literary creation & the forms of philosophical fiction
Wenke, John Paul.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Kent, Ohio : Kent State University Press, [1995]

Physical Description:
xx, 251 pages ; 23 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Central Library PS2388.A35 W46 1995 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



An examination of what it means - both biographically and textually - for Herman Melville to combine philosopy and aesthetics in his work. The author focuses on Melville's failures and successes in developing fictional forms to contain and express metaphysical speculations.

Reviews 1

Choice Review

The creative act was the essence and focus of Melville's philosophy. For Melville, there were very few philosophical ideas throughout the ages, and fiction was the medium through which he ascertained and studied these ideas and expressed his speculations. Human identity occupies a "tenuous position" between phenomenal and noumenal realms. An act of perpetual reformulation, consciousness proceeds from the dialectical interplay of material being and metaphysical speculation. Melville was influenced by Plato, Rabelais, Montaigne, Burton, Browne, and Coleridge. With close attention to bibliographical and biographical detail, Wenke (Salisbury State Univ.) explores Melville's philosophy of aesthetics as it is elaborated in Mardi, Moby-Dick, Pierre, and The Confidence-Man. There is also a brief chapter on Redburn and White-Jacket. This book is an invaluable companion and counterpoint to John Bryant's Melville and Repose (CH, Mar'94). Bryant gives us Melville's humor; Wenke gives us Melville's mind. Clear, succinct, and enjoyable, this book will be extremely useful for researchers and students at all levels. Highly recommended. F. C. Kaplan University of Toledo

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