Sunday, February 17, 2013

Boy of Learning, Bard of Tropes

That would be Bartleby, see:
Bar / Bard
T / Tropes
Le / Learning
By / Boy  
Wouldn't that be wild if Melville grabbed Bartleby's name Anagram-Style from a line in
"Chatterton's Will":
For had I never known the antique lore,
I ne'er had ventur'd from my peaceful shore,
To be the wreck of promises and hopes,
A Boy of Learning, and a Bard of Tropes  (The Poetical Works, vol 2)

What got me looking into Boy-Bard or better, Bard-Boy Chatterton was the fine inspiring article by Maryhelen C. Harmon, "Melville's 'Borrowed Personage':  Bartleby and Thomas Chatterton" over at Bartleby, the Scrivener the University of Kansas site edited by Haskell Springer.  Originally published in ESQ: A Journal of the American Renaissance 33 (First Quarter 1987): 35-44.

Harmon shows fascinating correspondences not only between Bartleby and Chatterton as inscrutable  scriveners but also between narrators, Melville's smooth Wall Street lawyer and Chatterton's annoyingly smug biographer.

Yes Melville owned and marked The Poetical Works of Thomas Chatterton. Sealts Number 137 in the Catalog at Melville's Marginalia Online. Harmon makes a great connection, most provocative. I'm way behind but would be glad to know of any discussion anywhere that engages or develops or even comments on Harmon's argument.  Robert Sandberg is there already, good.

Who else?

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