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."
- Criticism of G. P. R. James
- riddle, cipher, mask
- Has a problem with artificial plot twists