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Adulthood and Other FictionsAmerican Literature and the Unmaking of Age$
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Sari Edelstein

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780198831884

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: December 2018

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198831884.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 06 March 2021

“May I Never Be a Man”

“May I Never Be a Man”

Immaturity in Melville’s America

Chapter:
(p.19) 1 “May I Never Be a Man”
Source:
Adulthood and Other Fictions
Author(s):

Sari Edelstein

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/oso/9780198831884.003.0002

The first chapter reads Herman Melville’s semi-autobiographical novel Redburn: His First Voyage (1849) as an anti-coming-of-age novel that exposes maturity as profoundly ideological, tied to capitalist and nationalist agendas. Published during a moment in which calls proliferated for individual Americans and the nation at large to grow up, Redburn rejects the trajectory toward adult masculinity defined exhaustively in this moment as the basis of American development. The chapter positions Melville’s work amidst the cultural preoccupation with linear life-course trajectories, represented in popular broadsides and lithographs enshrining the stages of life. Melville’s career, which took a well-known plunge after Moby-Dick, might be recast as a refusal to embrace the terms by which market society defined adulthood and success.

Keywords:   immaturity, development, failure, Melville, adulthood, masculinity

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