Cover: Herman Melville: The Tragedy of Mind, from Harvard University PressCover: Herman Melville in E-DITION

Herman Melville

The Tragedy of Mind

Available from De Gruyter »

Product Details


$65.00 • £54.95 • €60.00

ISBN 9780674865815

Publication Date: 01/01/1944

255 pages


Related Subjects

Harvard University Press has partnered with De Gruyter to make available for sale worldwide virtually all in-copyright HUP books that had become unavailable since their original publication. The 2,800 titles in the “e-ditions” program can be purchased individually as PDF eBooks or as hardcover reprint (“print-on-demand”) editions via the “Available from De Gruyter” link above. They are also available to institutions in ten separate subject-area packages that reflect the entire spectrum of the Press’s catalog. More about the E-ditions Program »

“From my twenty-fifth year,” Melville wrote to Hawthorne, “I date my life. Three weeks have scarcely passed, at any time between then and now, that I have not unfolded within myself.” It is with this process of unfolding rather than with factual biography that this critical study is concerned. William Sedgwick calls it the drama of human growth, with Melville’s identity or soul as the protagonist, and he follows the development of Melville’s thought in a remarkably sensitive interpretation that reaches the heart of the peculiar force and character of his works.

Although conventional in pattern to the extent that the author has analyzed Melville’s books in chronological order, from Typee through Moby Dick to Billy Budd, Sedgwick’s book has almost the quality of a musical composition: the different phases of Melville’s thought occur and reoccur like the themes of a sonata. Melville, a many-sided personality and an immoderate and importunate seeker of the truth, has emerged in the contemporary view of American literature as its most significant figure. Sedgwick reaffirms that opinion by tracing the story of the development, not simply of one man, but of all men in their awakening from the dreams of youth at the disillusioning impact on them of the realization of the true nature of things.

Recent News

Black lives matter. Black voices matter. A statement from HUP »

From Our Blog

Cover: A Theory of Justice: Original Edition, by John Rawls, from Harvard University Press

John Rawls: Speaking in a Shared Political Language

On the occasion of the anniversary of the publication of A Theory of Justice, Andrius Gališanka, author of John Rawls: The Path to a Theory of Justice, reflects on some of Rawls’s ideas on moral and political reasoning