Download Cast by means of figures: Herman Melville's rhetorical by Bryan C. Short PDF

By Bryan C. Short

The ability of Herman Melville's fiction owes a lot to his literary voice - a protean talking presence delivered to lifestyles by means of cutting edge and masterful rhetoric. during this publication Bryan C. brief explores the evolution of that voice via research of Melville's works, the applying of literary and rhetorical concept and biographical insights.

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These fulsome exercises, along with the two "Fragments from a Writing Desk" published in the Democratic Press and Lansingburgh Advertiser in May 1839, paint a vivid portrait of a youthful writer flushed with the rhetorical excesses of his day. In Blair's Lectures the students of Melville's generation encountered a text of Page 14 extraordinary cultural authority. Hugh Blair (17181800) had preached from the most prestigious pulpit in Scotland, the High Church at St. Giles, occupied the first Regius Professorship of Rhetoric and Belles Lettres at the University of Edinburgh, helped found the Edinburgh Review, edited the works of Shakespeare, supervised publication of the first comprehensive British edition of the English poets, and enjoyed the friendship of David Hume, Adam Smith, Alexander Carlyle, James Boswell, and other famous Enlightenment intellectuals (Golden and Corbett 2425).

8 Melville's second fragment establishes an opposition between external and internal, Romantic description and burlesque reflection. The rhetorical problem which it poses is how to get the two together, how to integrate both in an authoritative voice, without destroying the decorum implied by either. Specifically, the problem is that of irony. The self-conscious humor of Melville's "inner voice" threatens to ironize the entire fragment, turn it into parody; irony characterizes an emerging rhetorical ethos marked by both good will and imaginative energy; yet irony has no place in Blair's tropologyit is the one figure important to Melville's beginnings which Blair does not treat directly.

Literary creation reacts back on the thought or experience behind it. " Like the tattooing Page 16 which threatens Tommo in Typee, the exercise of literary rhetoric becomes "so beautifying an operation" (T 219) whose surface markings have the power to shape and change underlying levels of human identity. Incipient in Blair is a model of the reflexive ethos which takes center stage in Melville's works during the late 1840s. Hugh Blair's treatment of figurative language also determines Melville's practice.

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