Herman Melville and the uncanny: a Kristevan analysis of Melville's deep diving




Lewter, Shirley Mason

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Texas Tech University


This study will concentrate for the most part on a reading of two of Herman Melville's novels, Typee: A Peep at Polynesian Life and Pierre; or "The Ambiguities" through an interpretive context I have based primarily on the critical work of French theorist Julia Kristeva. Although Kristeva is considerably better known for her "French" feminism, a dimension of her writing which will not be emphasized here, there are other important aspects of Kristevan theory that are more relevant to literary analysis: the Kristevan concept of the other as part of the self; Kristeva's idea of writing as a practice which constitutes a subject-in-process; her notion of the "unnameable" or the "uncanny" in relation to abjection, melancholia and the maternal. These issues and other explorations such as those dealing with a particular notion of intertextuality provide the contextual Kristevan focus of my reading of Melville's novels. The reading itself, it is hoped, will provide a more satisfactory answer to how a Kristevan context is of specific value in the appreciation of Melville's writing. A more general orientation is summarized below.



Melville, Herman, 1819-1891 -- Criticism and interpretation, Melville, Herman, 1819-1891. Pierre, Melville, Herman, 1819-1891. Typee, Kristeva, Julia, 1941-, Criticism