Cover image for Mariners, renegades, & castaways : the story of Herman Melville and the world we live in
Title:
Mariners, renegades, & castaways : the story of Herman Melville and the world we live in
Author:
James, C. L. R. (Cyril Lionel Robert), 1901-1989.
Publication Information:
Hanover, NH : Dartmouth College : University Press of New England, [2001]

©2001
Physical Description:
xxxiii, 182 pages ; 23 cm.
General Note:
"Originally published by C.L.R. James, New York, 1953."
Language:
English
ISBN:
9781584650935

9781584650942
Format :
Book

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Summary

Summary

Political theorist and cultural critic, novelist and cricket enthusiast, C. L. R. James (1901 - 1989) was a brilliant polymath who has been described by Edward Said as "a centrally important 20th-century figure." Through such landmark works as The Black Jacobins, Beyond a Boundary, and American Civilization, James's thought continues to influence and inspire scholars in a wide variety of fields. "There is little doubt," wrote novelist Caryl Phillips in The New Republic, "that James will come to be regarded as the outstanding Caribbean mind of the twentieth century." In his seminal work of literary and cultural criticism, Mariners, Renegades and Castaways, James anticipated many of the concerns and ideas that have shaped the contemporary fields of American and Postcolonial Studies, yet this widely influential book has been unavailable in its complete form since its original publication in 1953. A provocative study of Moby Dick in which James challenged the prevailing Americanist interpretation that opposed a "totalitarian" Ahab and a "democratic, American" Ishmael, he offered instead a vision of a factory-like Pequod whose "captain of industry" leads the "mariners, renegades and castaways" of its crew to their doom. In addition to demonstrating how such an interpretation supported the emerging US national security state, James also related the narrative of Moby Dick, and its resonance in American literary and political culture, to his own persecuted position at the height (or the depth) of the Truman/McCarthy era. It is precisely this personal, deeply original material that was excised from the only subsequent edition. With a new introduction by Donald E. Pease that places the work in its critical and cultural context, Mariners, Renegades and Castaways is once again available in its complete form.


Summary

Political theorist and cultural critic, novelist and cricket enthusiast, C. L. R. James (1901 - 1989) was a brilliant polymath who has been described by Edward Said as "a centrally important 20th-century figure." Through such landmark works as The Black Jacobins, Beyond a Boundary, and American Civilization, James's thought continues to influence and inspire scholars in a wide variety of fields. "There is little doubt," wrote novelist Caryl Phillips in The New Republic, "that James will come to be regarded as the outstanding Caribbean mind of the twentieth century."

In his seminal work of literary and cultural criticism, Mariners, Renegades and Castaways, James anticipated many of the concerns and ideas that have shaped the contemporary fields of American and Postcolonial Studies, yet this widely influential book has been unavailable in its complete form since its original publication in 1953. A provocative study of Moby Dick in which James challenged the prevailing Americanist interpretation that opposed a "totalitarian" Ahab and a "democratic, American" Ishmael, he offered instead a vision of a factory-like Pequod whose "captain of industry" leads the "mariners, renegades and castaways" of its crew to their doom.

In addition to demonstrating how such an interpretation supported the emerging US national security state, James also related the narrative of Moby Dick, and its resonance in American literary and political culture, to his own persecuted position at the height (or the depth) of the Truman/McCarthy era. It is precisely this personal, deeply original material that was excised from the only subsequent edition. With a new introduction by Donald E. Pease that places the work in its critical and cultural context, Mariners, Renegades and Castaways is once again available in its complete form.


Author Notes

A native of Trinidad, C. L. R. James grew up in a very respectable middle-class black family steeped in British manners and culture. Although justifiably well-known in the British world as a writer, historian, and political activist, his contributions have been underappreciated in the United States. A student of history, literature, philosophy, and culture, James thought widely and wrote provocatively. He also turned his words into deeds as a journalist, a Trotskyite, a Pan-African activist, a Trinidadian nationalist politican, a university teacher, and a government official.

James was a teacher and magazine editor in Trinidad until the early 1930s, when he went to England and became a sports writer for the Manchester Guardian. While in England he became a dedicated Marxist organizer. In 1938 he moved to the United States and continued his political activities, founding an organization dedicated to the principles of Trotskyism. His politics led to his expulsion from the United States in 1953, and he returned to Trinidad, from which he was also expelled in the early 1960s. He spent the remainder of his life in England.

Among James's extensive writings, the two most influential volumes are Black Jacobins (1967), a study of the anti-French Dominican (Haitian) slave rebellion of the 1790s, and Beyond a Boundary (1963), a remarkable exploration of sport, specifically cricket, as social and political history. Other important works include A History of Negro Revolt (1938) and The Life of Captain Cipriani (1932). James represents an unusual combination of activist-reformer (even revolutionary) and promoter of the best in art, culture, and gentility.

(Bowker Author Biography)


A native of Trinidad, C. L. R. James grew up in a very respectable middle-class black family steeped in British manners and culture. Although justifiably well-known in the British world as a writer, historian, and political activist, his contributions have been underappreciated in the United States. A student of history, literature, philosophy, and culture, James thought widely and wrote provocatively. He also turned his words into deeds as a journalist, a Trotskyite, a Pan-African activist, a Trinidadian nationalist politican, a university teacher, and a government official.

James was a teacher and magazine editor in Trinidad until the early 1930s, when he went to England and became a sports writer for the Manchester Guardian. While in England he became a dedicated Marxist organizer. In 1938 he moved to the United States and continued his political activities, founding an organization dedicated to the principles of Trotskyism. His politics led to his expulsion from the United States in 1953, and he returned to Trinidad, from which he was also expelled in the early 1960s. He spent the remainder of his life in England.

Among James's extensive writings, the two most influential volumes are Black Jacobins (1967), a study of the anti-French Dominican (Haitian) slave rebellion of the 1790s, and Beyond a Boundary (1963), a remarkable exploration of sport, specifically cricket, as social and political history. Other important works include A History of Negro Revolt (1938) and The Life of Captain Cipriani (1932). James represents an unusual combination of activist-reformer (even revolutionary) and promoter of the best in art, culture, and gentility.

(Bowker Author Biography)


Reviews 1

Library Journal Review

Literature is always open to interpretation, and Melville's Moby-Dick has long been a subject of study for its vast symbolism. Just when everyone thought it had been picked clean, along came James's 1953 study, which takes an economic approach to the novel. James suggests that the doomed ship Pequod, with its full whale-processing facilities, can serve as a symbol for the American factory system, with its workers being used perilously and brought to their untimely deaths by a mad captain of industry at the helm. Strictly for the academics. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.