Saturday, July 13, 2019

Elk, forests, antlers

Goldsmith's History of the Earth and Animated Nature
The "Dreams" chapter in Melville's Mardi (1849) offers the image of forests as elk-antlers. Here it's all dream vision. In context, the "wide woodlands" are conceived more literally than the figurative elk and antlers. From Mardi: And a Voyage Thither:
... to and fro, toss the wide woodlands: all the world an elk, and the forests its antlers.



Same terms, altered conceit in Scenes Beyond the Western Border ("Elk-Shooting," January 1852); and Scenes and Adventures in the Army ("Splendid Elk Chase"), page 273. Now the narrator supposedly chases real elk with real antlers; so the forest is figurative:
The noble creatures, with a whole forest of antlers, taking the alarm, first began to trot round loftily, with heads tossed high in air....
Detail. Front cover, January 1852 issue of the Southern Literary Messenger

The ensuing prairie dialogue between the narrator and his Imaginary Friend features a detailed critique of The False Heir by G. P. R. James. This section was synopsized as "Literature on the Little Arkansas" on the front cover of the January 1852 issue of The Southern Literary Messenger. The 1857 book version drops "Literature on the Little Arkansas"; the Table of Contents summarizes the same material as "Criticism of J. P. R. James."


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Monday, May 27, 2019

dead as astrology, scarce as alchymists

An Alchemist. 1661, Adriaen van Ostade via The National Gallery

SCENES BEYOND THE WESTERN BORDER (JUNE 1852)

"Only too true! Other works of genius are scarcely recognized: poetry is as dead as astrology: life is exhausted, and the mind overpowered by the accumulation of facts." --June 1852 Scenes Beyond the Western Border; and revised in Scenes and Adventures in the Army ("by the accumulation of facts" changed to "in the attempt to master a vast accumulation of facts.")

PIERRE (1852)
And though this state of things, united with the ever multiplying freshets of new books, seems inevitably to point to a coming time, when the mass of humanity reduced to one level of dotage, authors shall be scarce as alchymists are to-day, and the printing-press be reckoned a small invention.... --Pierre; Or, The Ambiguities

Monday, April 22, 2019

Never, never land

"Ah! how very doleful is that plaint! Never, never the doleful!"
--from Scenes Beyond the Western Border (August 1852); and (slightly revised) in Scenes and Adventures in the Army.
Scenes Beyond the Western Border
Southern Literary Messenger 18 (August 1852): 506
The revised 1857 version switches prepositions in and with: calm "with which" revised to calm "in which"; "in fairy creations" then becomes "with fairy creations."
It is near midnight. Silence reigns in the desert; but now and then come the cries of wolves from the mountains. They give an almost supernatural tone to these solemn solitudes. The repose which twenty hours of excitement and toil demand, is banished. Hark! how they howl! Be grandly dreary, and ye will be attuned to the heart! Yes, never better to a sentimental girl the gentlest breathings of an AEolian harp. Ah! how very doleful is that plaint! Never, never, the doleful! Give me the placid calm in which the soul may revel with fairy creations, adorned by all the flowers of thought—or proud action, the storm of wild and passionate will. The gilded and painted memory, or fierce oblivion.

MOBY-DICK (1851)
“Great God! but for one single instant show thyself,” cried Starbuck; “never, never wilt thou capture him, old man—  --Chapter 134, The Chase—Second Day.
PIERRE (1852)
Then, swear to me, dear Pierre, that thou wilt never keep a secret from me—no, never, never;—swear!" 1852 first edition, page 49
 Nay, nay, groaned Pierre, never, never, could such syllables be one instant tolerated by her. --page 120
And Pierre felt that never, never would he be able to embrace Isabel with the mere brotherly embrace; --page 193
In the same passage from Scenes Beyond the Western Border (August 1852) with "Never, never", the figurative AEolian harp communicates a "plaint" described as "doleful"; in Pierre; Or, The Ambiguities (first published at the end of July 1852), Isabel's guitar voices her "melancholy plaints":
But the wonderful melodiousness of her grief had touched the secret monochord within his breast, by an apparent magic, precisely similar to that which had moved the stringed tongue of her guitar to respond to the heart-strings of her own melancholy plaints.  --Page 234
THE PIAZZA (1856)
"Oh, sir," tears starting in her eyes, "the first time I looked out of this window, I said 'never, never shall I weary of this.'"  --first story in Melville's The Piazza Tales

Saturday, March 23, 2019

O(h) my friend(s)

MOBY-DICK (1851)
Oh! my friends, but this is man-killing!  --Chapter 98, Stowing Down and Clearing Up.
 SCENES BEYOND THE WESTERN BORDER (AUGUST 1852)
"O! my friend!"
--Scenes Beyond the Western Border, August 1852
 Deleted in revision, "O! my friend!" does not appear in the 1857 book version,  Scenes and Adventures in the Army.

"Scenes Beyond the Western Border"
Southern Literary Messenger - August 1852
Also deleted in revision of the same 1852 dialogue: "Ah! my good friend...."



which does not appear in the 1857 book version:

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Appearance on any scene or stage

PIERRE
How am I changed, that my appearance on any scene should have power to work such woe?  --Herman Melville, Pierre; Or, The Ambiguities (1852)
 SCENES BEYOND THE WESTERN BORDER
In crossing the Platte this morning, the grizzly bear cub came on the scene in his final act.

It will be remembered by the patient and attentive future reader of this dry and methodical narrative, that its first appearance on any stage, was in "high" tragedy—
 --March 1853 Scenes Beyond the Western Border"; and Scenes and Adventures in the Army.
Scenes Beyond the Western Border
Southern Literary Messenger 19 (March 1853): 159
Metaphorical acts and scenes in Melville's Pierre:
By infallible presentiment he saw, that not always doth life's beginning gloom conclude in gladness; that wedding-bells peal not ever in the last scene of life's fifth act....
Decreed by God Omnipotent it is, that Death should be the last scene of the last act of man's play;—a play, which begin how it may, in farce or comedy, ever hath its tragic end; the curtain inevitably falls upon a corpse.
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Monday, March 18, 2019

Himself

Himself was too much for himself. --Herman Melville, Pierre; or, The Ambiguities (1852).
... the imprisoned hero himself sank overwhelmed....  -- Scenes Beyond the Western Border (March 1853); and Scenes and Adventures in the Army (1857).
In the examples below, all from Moby-Dick (1851) and Pierre (1852), the reflexive pronoun himself functions also as an intensive pronoun that emphasizes its antecedent (the noun, pronoun, or proper noun that comes before it). Page numbers refer to First American editions, digitized and available online courtesy of HathiTrust Digital Library:
Moby-Dick; or, The Whale
https://hdl.handle.net/2027/dul1.ark:/13960/t3kw6ns1s

Pierre; or, The Ambiguities
https://hdl.handle.net/2027/hvd.32044011420494
and the Internet Archive:
Moby-Dick; or, The Whale
https://archive.org/details/mobydickorwhale01melv/page/n7
Pierre; or, The Ambiguities
https://archive.org/details/pierreorambigui00melvgoog
MOBY-DICK [39/205]
  1. the great whale himself --Chapter 1, Loomings - page 6
  2. Dives himself --Chapter 2, The Carpet-Bag - page 11
  3. the great leviathan himself --Chapter 3, The Spouter-Inn - page 12
  4. the devil himself  --Chapter 3, The Spouter-Inn - page 24
  5. Jove himself --Chapter 7, The Chapel - page 41
  6. he himself [Queequeg] --Chapter 17, The Ramadan - page 96
  7. a deacon himself [Queequeg] --Chapter 18, His Mark - page 98
  8. Father Mapple himself --Chapter 18, His Mark - page 99
  9. Bildad himself  --Chapter 20, All Astir - page 107
  10. Peleg himself --Chapter 22, Merry Christmas - page 116
  11. The whale himself  Chapter 24, The Advocate - page 123
  12. God; Himself! The great God absolute! --Chapter 26, Knights and Squires - page 128
  13. the great Sperm whale himself.   --Chapter 32, Cetology - page 158
  14. he himself [Ahab]  --Chapter 34, The Cabin Table page 165
  15. the Baron himself  Chapter 41, Moby Dick - page 199
  16. Great Jove himself  Chapter 42, The Whiteness of the Whale - page 208
  17. he himself [Ahab]  --Chapter 44, The Chart  - page 219
  18. Starbuck himself   --Chapter 48, The First Lowering - page 245
  19. he himself [Daggoo] --Chapter 48, The First Lowering  - page 246
  20. Beelzebub himself  --Chapter 50, Ahab’s Boat and Crew. Fedallah - page 257
  21. the captain of the Town-Ho himself.  --Chapter 54, The Town-Ho's Story  - page 270
  22. the devil himself  --Chapter 55, Of the Monstrous Pictures of Whales - page 297
  23. the fanatic himself [Gabriel] --Chapter 71, The Jeroboam's Story - page 351
  24. the captain himself  --Chapter 71, The Jeroboam's Story - page 352
  25. Death himself  --Chapter 71, The Jeroboam’s Story  - page 354
  26. the Evil One himself  --Chapter 78, Cisterns and Buckets - page 380
  27. man himself  --Chapter 79, The Prairie - page 385
  28. the great Leviathan himself.  Chapter 82, The Honor and Glory of Whaling - page 404
  29. this divine Vishnoo himself --Chapter 82, The Honor and Glory of Whaling - page 405
  30. the all-seeing sun himself --Chapter 60 - The Line - page 314
  31. Moby Dick himself --Chapter 87, The Grand Armada - page 426
  32. great leviathan himself  --Chapter 98, Stowing Down and Clearing Up - page 476
  33. Jimimi! here’s Gemini himself  --Chapter 99, The Doubloon - page 481
  34. the patient himself [Captain Boomer] --Chapter 100, Leg and Arm - page 489
  35. Queequeg himself  --Chapter 110, Queequeg in His Coffin - page 531
  36. the blacksmith himself  --Chapter 112, The Blacksmith - page 538
  37. the stranger captain himself  --Chapter 128, The Pequod Meets the Rachel - page 584
  38. the judge himself  --Chapter 132, The Symphony - page 600
  39. the mad fiend himself  --Chapter 134, The Chase—Second Day  - page 613
PIERRE [32/246]
  1. Pierre himself  (8x) pages 26, 321, 328, 333, 334, 354, 358, 386, 393.
  2. the American that himself - Book 1 page 15
  3. the noble beast himself - page 39
  4. the Evil One himself - page 187
  5. he himself (11x) pages 83, 96, 152, 186, 234, 241, 298, 301, 392, 400, 490.
  6. God himself - page 222
  7. God himself - page 448
  8. the original man himself - Book 17.3 page 345
  9. the author himself - page 352
  10. the first man himself [Adam] - page 353
  11. the eminent Jugglarius himself - page 356
  12.  Plotinus himself - page 398
  13.  —the face itself—the man himself—this inscrutable Plotinus Plinlimmon himself— page 400
  14.  the individual himself - Book 26 page 478 
MELVILLE'S CORRESPONDENCE

     
    In crossing the Platte this morning, the grizzly bear cub came on the scene in his final act.

    It will be remembered by the patient and attentive future reader of this dry and methodical narrative, that its first appearance on any stage, was in "high" tragedy—that the first act embraced an unusual amount of sanguinary incident—that an innocent brother, (or sister,) being ruthlessly slain, and the baffled lady-mother left (unceremoniously) full of towering and demonstrative rage,— the imprisoned hero himself sank overwhelmed,—or in a well-acted counterfeit of death, (and was borne off, remember, on a "real" horse). That in the next act, (and three acts shall do for the tragedy of my bear,—originally they had but one,—but that was at the sacrifice of a goat,) he came to life in a manner that might very well have been criticized as an overdone piece of stage-effect,—but that in fact, the spectators were much moved, and gave full credit to the dangerous passion of his howl.

    To-day, then,—for I scorn anachronism— was performed the final act. The stage (wagon) was on "real water." Enraged at his wrongs, his losses, and his galling chain, the "robustious beast" acted in a ridiculous and unbearable manner; aye, ''tore his passion to tatters, to very rags,"—splinters; the stage (wagon) could not hold him: and finally in despair, he "imitated humanity so abominably," as to throw himself headlong, and so drown—or hang himself: (the author cannot decide which—even after a post mortem examination;—and so leaves the decision of this important point to the commentators).

    My tragedy is all true,—and if not quite serious, has, as is proper, its moral;—but rather, as I have alluded to the primitive tragedy, let that "future reader" here imagine the entry of Chorus, and their song to Freedom! That dumb beasts prefer death to slavery! Liberty lost, they can die without the excitement of the world's applause, or hopes of a grateful posterity! (It is not possible, I think, that the cub could have known that I would immortalize him.)  --March 1853 Scenes Beyond the Western Border"; and Scenes and Adventures in the Army.
     Related posts:

    Sunday, March 3, 2019

    Life's burden, 1852

    George Catlin - Bogard, Batiste, and I Chasing Buffalo in High Grass on a Missouri Bottom - 1985.66.486 - Smithsonian American Art Museum
    Bogard, Batiste, and I Chasing Buffalo in High Grass on a Missouri Bottom. George Catlin
    via Wikimedia Commons
    PIERRE (1852)
    Pierre little foresaw that this world hath a secret deeper than beauty, and Life some burdens heavier than death.
     "Well, life's a burden, they say; why not be burdened cheerily?"
    --Pierre; Or, The Ambiguities
    SCENES BEYOND THE WESTERN BORDER (APRIL 1852)
     An hour—almost of happiness—passes, and we take up our burdens and part forever!
    I. F. [Imaginary Friend] ... Your 'almost happiness!' — and 'burden,' of life did you mean? for I never saw one lighter mounted on a finer horse!
    Southern Literary Messenger - April 1852

    SCENES AND ADVENTURES IN THE ARMY (1857)
    Friend. ... Your "almost happiness!"— and "burden," of life did you mean? for I never saw one lighter mounted on a finer horse! --Scenes and Adventures in the Army