The Two Moby Dicks: The Split Signatures of Melville’s Novel
There has been a longstanding debate over the cetology sections in Herman Melville’s Moby Dick. These chapters, which are interwoven into the mid-section of the novel, are curiously devoid of characters or plot development and instead describe whaling biology and behavior. Some Melville scholars, including Charles Olson and Lawrence Buell, have suggested that the novel might have been written as two separate texts that were spliced together in the final stages. As the original manuscripts have been lost, this has never been confirmed. However, I hope to show that the way in which the chapters cluster together reveals that the novel does indeed have two unique stylistic signatures. This is perhaps compelling evidence in favor of the “two Moby Dicks,” a phenomenon that has been much speculated upon but never proven.
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