Speaker: Frank Gado
Everyone “knows” Moby-Dick, widely regarded as the consummate expression of the American literary imagination. But how many Americans have actually read the novel? For most who claim some familiarity, the encounter has been through a film or, more recently, TV dramatization, or the Classics Comics version, or a Cliff Notes summary. Or simply as a meme spread at all levels of our culture. None of these venues offers the means for comprehending the magnitude of Melville’s achievement.
Nor has the academy that rediscovered the novel after World War I and launched its ascent in reputation been an altogether reliable advocate. Recognizing the poetic force of Melville’s prose, our literary critics have shown a troubling tendency to recruit it to serve their own causes, interpreting it as everything from a screed against capitalist imperialism to a lightly-veiled celebration of homosexuality.
These three lectures - each divided by a short break - will present the novel as the pivot of Melville’s persistent search for meaning in the face of apparent meaninglessness, and as an unsatisfied demand for justification of injustice. The lectures will generally counter views delivered in the AmRenX MOOC Dartmouth mounted in the recent past. Everyone from high school students to pensioners curious about their country’s literary heritage is welcome.
While attendees are not required to have read the book, your enjoyment of these sessions will be elevated by familiarity with this classic novel.