as a locus of perceived failure, then; as a physical embodiment of circumstantial conditions that required apt processing.
It’s a lofty, convoluted idea perhaps—”ambiguities, indeed!
Because insanity was deemed the inverse of bourgeois normativity and conservative moral standards, those categorized as mad in America during mid-1800s were institutionalized in reformed mental asylums, establishments which sought to homogenize human behavior through moral treatment.
Both Edgar Allan Poe and Herman Melville drew upon the cultural construction of mental abnormality during their time and formulated mad characters that worked to destabilize the medical perceptions of madness as behavioral deviations from social normalcies, and instead portrayed madness as a pathological form of genius or knowledge.
” the reviews read—and thus one befitting its author entirely.
Nina Baym’s conception of Melville’s literary life as broken up between two transformations seems key here.
This is a possible, initial temptation, anyway; but typically proves inept.
In approaching Melville, one can see this enacted in critical blips here and there, or in the tendency of contemporary publishers to unearth obscure late-era texts ceremoniously; and while this has its place—the marketplace, logically, a notion to which Melville was no stranger—it frequently elides critical rigor and—though doubtless bolstering sales—does little to deepen, or widen understandings of a given scrivener’s work.
Looking back, however, and even way back to Gothic works such as is not mere luck or accident, but something to he treated with textual seriousness that’s thence been granted his more readily-accepted masterpieces.
What matters in this parallel between the 1960s and 70s postmodern crowd and our requires a brief metalepsis: more recently the despair over the state of the novel and readerships has led to interrogations of the form, the enterprise of reading itself, within the given texts of certain authors; looking back, there is absolutely no difference between that contemporary public climate, and Melville’s -era internal climate, and thus both, in their respective ways, might be permitted to give rise to texts interrogating the textual; objects to read cynically imbued with questions about the very act of reading.