Melville’s lyrical faith

One of the editors of this collection of essays on Melville’s Philosophies is a good friend, Kim Evans; we met at a conference in Syracuse when I was presenting on Matthew Arnold. She asked me if I would like to contribute an essay on Melville’s enormously long poem, Clarel, using some of my thoughts on Arnold’s picture of faith and poetry. The poem is about a journey in Palestine and in the resulting essay I ended up focusing on the lyrical episodes that punctuate this epic poem, at which junctures I suggest an emotional and visceral faithfulness persists through the poem’s larger sense of arid skepticism.

Rhian Williams, “‘Learning, unlearning, word by word”: feeling faith in Melville’s Clarel.’ In: Arsic, B. and Evans, K.L. (eds.), Melville’s Philosophies. Bloomsbury Academic: New York (2017), pp. 175-197

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