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literature

Alpha Index:  A-B  C-F  G-K  L-Q  R-S  T-Z

Subjects:  A-B  C-E  F-L  M-Z

     
Melville, Herman (1819-1891)  
 
page: 1  2  3  4  5  6  

Even at the end of his career, Melville was searching for a way out of the patriarchy. But he no longer believed that he could find it. The powerful would always prevail, using whatever they could to further their own interests and to conceal the bonds that threaten to implicate them as well.

Although almost forgotten by the end of his life, Melville enjoyed a considerable revival beginning in the 1920s. He was appreciated by many gay readers, including E. M. Forster, who wrote the libretto for Britten's Billy Budd (1951), and William Plomer, who wrote introductions to British editions of Billy Budd, Redburn, and White-Jacket. Hart Crane was one of Melville's early admirers and wrote "At Melville's Tomb" (1925).

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Melville's status as husband and father probably delayed wider recognition of his homosexuality, but more recently critics have come to recognize the unmistakable evidence of the texts.

The political activism of the 1960s helped produce a much more activist view of Melville, in response to an earlier view of him as largely conservative. His concern with meaning has made him a perfect object of deconstruction. And his sexual politics have been brought to light partly in terms of his own utopian desires, partly in terms of a complex pattern of desires. In death, as in life, Melville remains a dark, ungraspable figure.

Robert K. Martin

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literature >> Overview:  American Literature: Nineteenth Century

Although sometimes coded as romantic friendship, both gay male and lesbian attractions are reflected in nineteenth-century American poetry and fiction, including works by such major figures as Walt Whitman, Herman Melville, and Emily Dickinson.

literature >> Overview:  Ethnography

Ethnography, the description of indigenous non-European peoples by Euro-Americans, has been a safe way for writers to discuss homosexuality as a normal, non-pathological behavior.

literature >> Overview:  Novel: Gay Male

Since World War II, the gay male novel has progressively flourished in England and especially in America.

arts >> Overview:  Opera

Opera, an eclectic synthesis of voice, drama, music, costume, visual arts and spectacle, has played an integral role in queer culture since its development in seventeenth century Venice.

literature >> Overview:  Travel Literature

Travel has afforded gays and lesbians both freedom from the restraints of their own cultures and the erotic stimulus of exotic sexual customs and partners.

literature >> Overview:  War Literature

From ancient times, homoerotic writing has been a notable part of the literature of war.

literature >> Arvin, Newton

One of the most gifted critics of American literature of the mid-twentieth century, Newton Arvin is today most remembered as a lover and mentor of Truman Capote and as the central figure in a 1960 scandal at Smith College.

literature >> Byron, George Gordon, Lord

The bisexual Lord Byron treated many of his homosexual love affairs in his poetry, encoding them by the use of classical references or by purporting that they were affairs with women.

literature >> Crane, Hart

A successor to Walt Whitman, Hart Crane found spiritual transcendence in homoerotic desire.

literature >> Forster, E. M.

One of the finest English novelists of the twentieth century and a tireless defender of humane values, Forster deserves a special place in the gay and lesbian literary heritage.

literature >> Foucault, Michel

One of the leading philosophers of the twentieth century, Foucault has had an enormous influence on our understanding of the lesbian and gay literary heritage and the cultural forces surrounding it.

literature >> Halliburton, Richard

There has been renewed interest in the life and work of American adventurer and travel writer Richard Halliburton at least in part because of his homosexuality.

arts >> Indiana, Robert

Robert Indiana, best known as the creator of the LOVE series of paintings and sculptures, is an openly gay American artist who has incorporated autobiographical and gay themes within his work.

literature >> Plomer, William

Although overt homosexuality is absent from William Plomer's novels and poems, the relevance of his sexuality to his work is evident.

literature >> Shakespeare, William

As one of the key figures that western civilization has used to define itself, William Shakespeare stands in a complicated, fiercely contested relationship to homosexuality.

literature >> Whitman, Walt

Celebrating an ideal of manly love in both its spiritual and physical aspects, Walt Whitman has exerted a profound and enduring influence on gay literature.


    Bibliography
   

Arvin, Newton. Herman Melville. A Critical Biography. New York: Sloane, 1950.

Chase, Richard. Herman Melville. A Critical Study. New York: Macmillan, 1949.

Creech, James. Closet Writing/Gay Reading. The Case of Melville's Pierre. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1993.

Martin, Robert K. Hero, Stranger, and Captain. Male Friendship, Social Critique, and Literary Form in the Sea Novels of Herman Melville. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1986.

Miller, Edwin Haviland. Melville. New York: Braziller, 1975.

Rogin, Michael. Subversive Genealogy. The Politics and Art of Herman Melville. New York: Knopf, 1983.

Sedgwick, Eve Kosofsky. Epistemology of the Closet. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1990.

 

    Citation Information
         
    Author: Martin, Robert K.  
    Entry Title: Melville, Herman  
    General Editor: Claude J. Summers  
    Publication Name: glbtq: An Encyclopedia of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual,
Transgender, and Queer Culture
 
    Publication Date: 2002  
    Date Last Updated July 24, 2006  
    Web Address www.glbtq.com/literature/melville_h.html  
    Publisher glbtq, Inc.
1130 West Adams
Chicago, IL   60607
 
    Today's Date  
    Encyclopedia Copyright: © 2002-2006, glbtq, Inc.  
    Entry Copyright © 1995, 2002 New England Publishing Associates  
 

 

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