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Antebellum at SeaMaritime Fantasies in Nineteenth-Century America$
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Jason Berger

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780816677061

Published to Minnesota Scholarship Online: August 2015

DOI: 10.5749/minnesota/9780816677061.001.0001

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Incomplete Sea

Incomplete Sea

(p.239) Epilogue Incomplete Sea
Antebellum at Sea

Jason Berger

University of Minnesota Press

This chapter concludes that Herman Melville’s fantasy of violence emphasizes the contestatory and ambiguous political functions of maritime narratives in the antebellum era. These narratives depict complex and tension-wrought processes of ideological construction that accompanied the age of transition into modern socioeconomic alignments. The chapter presents an epigraph from Ecclesiastes stating that the sea is not full because of something like the motion of circulation and the continual passage of water renders the body of the ocean to be structurally incomplete. Melville’s oeuvre is marked by a figuration of the sea as a mysterious and incomplete space that is linked to a mysterious and incomplete space within the subject.

Keywords:   Herman Melville, maritime narratives, Ecclesiastes, antebellum era

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