Academic journal article Leviathan

Melville in the Pacific

Academic journal article Leviathan

Melville in the Pacific

Article excerpt

The summer of 2003 saw a determined migration of scholars from different parts of the globe to what might be called the birthplaces of Melville's art: "Pantheistic ports" (Lahaina and Nuku Hiva), "Marquesas and glenned isles" (Tahiti and Maui)--all "Authentic Edens in a Pagan sea." For those reaching the end of the academic year and "wearying of routine-resorts,'" nothing more than "the charm of scenes untried" would have carried us off to an "insular Tahiti, full of peace and joy." But with all the feasting and diving in the sea, the warm welcoming of old friends and new, and the expansion of minds to receive a wealth of fresh experiences and ideas, came a solemn recognition. For many, seeing Melville in the Pacific for perhaps the first time proved to be "a ponderous task"; and "to grope down into the bottom of the sea ... to have one's hands among the unspeakable foundations, ribs, and very pelvis of the world; this is a fearful thing." This special issue of Extracts grew out of our recognition of a world of scholarship waiting for new architects and new systems.

Expecting lively papers, exquisite sands, new and renewed friendships, we got that much. …

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