Fall 1945 • Vol. VII No. 4 Book Reviews |

Melville’s Imagination

Herman Melville: The Tragedy of Mind by William Ellery Sedgwick. Harvard. $2.75. For some twenty years now, an increasing number of critics have been conjuring with the names of Henry James and Herman Melville as the two most luminous in American writing, and as worthy to be mentioned along with the great names of world literature. There is, in fact, a solidifying conviction that the Great American Novel has already been written, and that it may have been written at least twice: in Moby Dick and The Golden Bowl. Yet Melville is just beginning to receive the same kind of minute critical attention that has been bestowed upon James for more than a decade. The sections on Melville in F. O. Matthiessen's American Renaissance initiated the careful study of his craft and his skill in psychological portraiture. And now we have from the late William Ellery Sedgwick, who died in 1942 at the age of forty-three, a comparable treatment of Melville's thought and his central imaginative impetus

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