Cast by Means of Figures: Herman Melville's Rhetorical Development

By Bryan C. Short | Go to book overview

5
"The drawn soul of genius": Mardi

We mortals ourselves spring all naked and scabbardless into the world. Yet, rather, are we scabbards to our souls. And the drawn soul of genius is more glittering than the drawn cimeter of Saladin.

-- Melville, Mardi

In March of 1848, just as the English edition of Omoo was about to appear, Melville announced to his publisher, John Murray, that his next novel would be a departure: "A real romance of mine is no Typee or Omoo, & is made of different stuff altogether." Feeling "irked, cramped & fettered by plodding along with dull common places," he vowed "to plume my pinions for a flight" (Letters 70). After Mardi appeared, a review in the New York Daily Tribune of May 10, 1849, judged that it "aims at a much higher mark and fails to reach it" (Leyda Log I, 303), and Melville, in July, explained to his new British publisher, Richard Bentley ( Murray had rejected the manuscript because of its fictional nature), that, despite hostile reviews, "'Mardi," in its higher purposes, has not been written in vain" ( Letters 86). From the beginning, the novel represented an expanded and risky venture for the fledgling writer.

Modern criticism reasserts both Mardi's departure from its predecessors and the negative judgments of contemporary reviewers;1 the novel is forgiven its "gaucheries" because it represents "the first bold stroke of Melville's greatest work."2 Yet in spite of obvious sense and almost universal currency, this judgment ignores the extent to which Mardi grows directly out of the synecdochic rhetoric of Omoo. In his third novel, Melville, rather than setting an entirely new course, exaggerates his reaction against the enabling irony of Typee and his quest for the grounds of a declaration of independence ("no further connection") from the past. This exaggeration in turn reveals implications of his tropological program which Omoo had passed over. It is more accurate to say that the real departure for Melville as an author comes not between Omoo and Mardi but within the latter novel, a view which helps to explain its glaring structural inconsistencies.3

Synecdochic rhetoric, in Omoo, permits the narrative voice to appropriate the terms of authorial self-discovery; freed from the metaleptic temporality of Typee, the moment of telling absorbs the processes by which it came into being as a persuasive act: the rhetoric of Omoo, in grounding itself on "the frequency

-51-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
Cast by Means of Figures: Herman Melville's Rhetorical Development
Table of contents

Table of contents

Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this book
  • Bookmarks
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
/ 206

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.