Melville "Among the Nations": Proceedings of An International Conference, Volos, Greece, July 2-6, 1997

By Stanford E. Marovitz; A. C. Christodoulou | Go to book overview

ROBERT K. WALLACE


'ALOOF ' AND 'ALOFT ':
CAPE COLONNA IN MELVILLE'S POEM AND TURNER'S ENGRAVINGS

Off Cape Colonna' is one of the poems that Melville published as 'Fruit of Travel Long Ago' in Timoleon in 1891. Timoleon is one of the volumes of poetry that Melville published after his career as a novelist ended ' in 1857. The visual art of J. M. W. Turner was as im- portant to Melville's work as a poet as it was to his work as a novelist. 1 Turner's influence on Melville's poetry is most explicit in 'The Temeraire,' the poem he published in Battle-Pieces in 1866, nine years after seeing Turner's The Fighting Temeraire in London on the way home from his 1856- 57 Mediterranean voyage. 2 Turner's influence is pervasive, if less explicit, in Clarel, published in 1876, and in Timoleon in 1891. So is the influence of Melville's personal print collection.

By the time Melville died in 1891, he had collected more than 400 prints and engravings that I have been identifying and cataloging since in 1986. Twenty-six of these were engravings after paintings by Turner. These included The Fighting Temeraire, Snow Storm—Steam-Boat, Peace —Burial at Sea, and other powerful late seascapes. 3 Melville also owned engravings after Turner in many of the illustrated books that he collected. Among these were twenty-one engravings in Cosmo Monkhouse's illustrated biography of Turner (Sealts, no. 365), and another seventeen in the sixteen volumes of The Life and Works of Lord Byron, an American reprint of the celebrated 1832-33 John Murray edition (Sealts, nos. 112, 369). These engravings of Turner's visual art were a rich repository of imagery and association as

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