Call Me Ishmael (Paperback)

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Call Me Ishmael By Charles Olson, Merton M. Sealts (Afterword by) Cover Image
By Charles Olson, Merton M. Sealts (Afterword by)
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Staff Reviews

You've finished Moby-Dick and you want to keep riding the high. This is how. A century after Moby-Dick, Charles Olson traces Moby-Dick's real-life and literary origins. Melville and Olson inhabit the same weather-beaten New England literary realm, and this groundbreaking text is infused with the trademark style that made Olson a cult classic American poet. Among the most interesting ideas explored is how there are two Moby-Dicks, tied together by Hamlet.

— Gleb


One of the most stimulating essays ever written on Moby Dick, and for that matter on any piece of literature, and the forces behind it.--San Francisco Chronicle

First published in 1947, this acknowledged classic of American literary criticism explores the influences--especially Shakespearean ones--on Melville's writing of Moby-Dick. One of the first Melvilleans to advance what has since become known as the theory of the two Moby-Dicks, Olson argues that there were two versions of Moby-Dick, and that Melville's reading King Lear for the first time in between the first and second versions of the book had a profound impact on his conception of the saga: the first book did not contain Ahab, writes Olson, and it may not, except incidentally, have contained Moby-Dick. If literary critics and reviewers at the time responded with varying degrees of skepticism to the theory of the two Moby-Dicks, it was the experimental style and organization of the book that generated the most controversy.

About the Author

Charles Olson (1910-1970), an avant garde poet, literary critic, and literary theorist, is the author of The Maximus Poems, The Distances, The Human Universe and Other Essays, and In Cold Hell, in Thicket.
Product Details
ISBN: 9780801857317
ISBN-10: 0801857317
Publisher: Johns Hopkins University Press
Publication Date: November 28th, 1997
Pages: 164
Language: English