Melville and the Question of Meaning

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This rich volume of essays restores meaning itself as the focal point of one of our most thoughtful modern writers, Herman Melville. Melville and the Question of Meaning thinks about thinking in Melville. For if Melville’s concerns with interpretation (the contributors to one recent collection variously read the author for "the ‘meaning’ of the characters," the "meaning" of the "body," "recesses of meaning," "deepest levels of meaning," "double meaning," and the "meaning" of "being" and "everything else") overlap with our own concerns, at a cultural moment when meaning feels especially strained, we have lost sight of the central place of meaning making in Melville’s work. My own readings in Melville are a pedestrian’s guide through the self-conscious complications of meaning we meet with in Melville across a range of different disciplines and endeavors. Combining aesthetics and sociolinguistics, history and theory, rhetoric and politics, philosophy and film studies, Melville and the Question of Meaning demonstrates that the project of making meaning in Melville remains as vital as ever.