Melville's Shorter Tales
Published by: University of Oklahoma Press
Imprint: University of Oklahoma Press
166 Pages | 5 x 8 | 1 b&w illus.
Richard Harter Fogle provides an accurate and rounded discussion of these relatively neglected Melville stories. His approach is broadly literary—expounding Melville’s ideas as they exist in the context of the stories themselves and illuminating their connections with Melville’s total work.
The quality of the tales is uneven: they vary from “Benito Cereno,” “Bartleby,” and “The Encantadas,” which are recognized as world masterpieces, to imperfect sketches like “The Lightning-Rod Man” and “The Happy Failure.” Yet all are serious investigations of meaning, informed by Melville’s brooding and contemplative intelligence.
Avoiding psychoanalytic and “mythical” criticism, Fogle develops a genuine concern for Melville’s own broad and nontechnical ethic, psychology, and metaphysic as woven into the fabric of his fiction. Melville is always, Fogle says, the seeker of knowledge “pitted against a finally inscrutable reality.” Perhaps borrowing from the courage of his subject, Fogle approaches Melville’s mysterious and perplexing world with confidence in his essential greatness—as an author and a man.