Cover: Melville’s <i>Israel Potter</i>: Reflections on the American Dream, from Harvard University PressCover: Melville’s <i>Israel Potter</i> in PAPERBACK

LeBaron Russell Briggs Prize Honors Essays in English 1969

Melville’s Israel Potter

Reflections on the American Dream

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$2.70 • £2.95 • €2.95

ISBN 9780674564756

Publication Date: 01/01/1969

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Alexander Keyssar’s study focuses on Melville’s treatment of the social and existential condition of the American common man—his inability to realize the happiness promised by the American dream and the impurity of democracy in a society with marked economic classes. The author discusses the literary coherence—thematic rather than narrative—of Melville’s work as illustrated by Israel Potter and as representative of the novelist’s writing during the 1853–1856 period. He includes a brief analysis of Melville’s conception of literary “truth” and a discussion of the peculiar role of comedy in the sad story of Israel Potter. Melville’s insights into the political and social flaws of America “contain remarkable relevance for the contemporary reader.”

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