By Wyn Kelley
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Extra info for A companion to Herman Melville
His dreamer is ‘‘like a frigate . . full with a thousand souls,’’ scudding before the wind and nearly dashed against ‘‘shoals, like nebulous vapors, shoreing the white reef of the Milky Way, against which the wrecked worlds are dashed; strowing all the strand, with their Himmaleh keels and ribs’’ (M 367). The ambitious Mardi foreshadows Moby-Dick with its elaborate sentence structures and headlong metaphors, similes, allusions, and analogies linking the concrete and the cosmic, the physical and the metaphysical, the known and the unknown.
In addition to being a picturesque, suspenseful, and informative first book, Typee (1846) is a paean to Polynesian culture and a scathing critique of Christian imperialism. The book’s sequel, Omoo (1847), takes the case against ‘‘snivelization’’ even farther by describing the disastrous effects of contact 12 Laurie Robertson-Lorant with ‘‘the white civilized man . . the most ferocious animal on the face of the earth’’ (T 125) on the Tahitians and Hawaiians. By 1848, Melville was a successful author and a married man, having wooed and won Elizabeth Shaw while writing two popular travel narratives.
I have lived too long in foreign parts’’ is the repeated refrain of Winterbourne, the archetypal lost cosmopolitan in James’s early story ‘‘Daisy Miller’’ (206). Developed as James’s self-critical portrait of one in his own situation as a member of the expatriate leisure class at the turn of the century, Winterbourne defined the bare bones of a story that was replayed in a number of James’s later fictions – culminating most memorably in the complex study of Strether in The Ambassadors who, in a plot pattern that appears again and again, is transformed from a one-way position as univocal ambassador (representing one culture to another) to a more complex predicament as ‘‘ambassador at large,’’ an ambassador between cultures (going back and forth as a translator, mediator, and advocate painfully involved with all sides).