mardi 8 mars 2011
William Charvat, THE PROFESSION OF AUTHORSHIP IN AMERICA, 1800-1870, Columbus, Ohio State University Press, 1968, 327 pages.
Moby-Dick, Herman Melville's one unquestionably great full-length book, has never been properly understood as the work of a writer who was in a state of creative tension with a reading public whose limitations he had at last defined. Many of its devices, and to some extent its form and its greatness, can be explained in terms of that tension - a tension which was a crucial factor in the creation of Poe's major tales, Hawthorne's novels, Emerson's lectures, Huckleberry Finn, and The Turn of the Screw. All were products of a balance of the author's wish to express himself and yet to be bought and read and taken seriously. If this hypothesis seems to make the general reader in the nineteenth century a partner in the creation of some of America's greatest art, the compliment must be diluted by the fact that some of these works were commercial failures, that some were misunderstood, and some valued for the wrong reasons.