Monday, September 26, 2022

Giorgia Meloni's electrifying speech at the World Congress of Families, ...

2019 speech in Verona, Italy at the World Congress of Families...

Defending the "unenlightened" Middle Ages around 6:30
"But they think everything we propose is crazy.  They think it's unenlightened, that we want to take away rights... the middle ages ... You know the middle ages was also the time of the cathedrals and the abbeys, the founding of the comuni, the universities, the parliament, the epoch of Dante, Petrarch, Boccaccio, Saint Francis, Saint Benedict ... People who don't know where Matera is, let's not expect them to have read history books."
Meloni sounded like Ungar debating Derwent in Melville's Clarel.

In Ungar's longer view of history and art, the great cathedrals of medieval Europe proclaim
A magnanimity which our time
Would envy, were it great enough
To comprehend.  -- Clarel Part 4 Canto 10 A Monument

Herman Melville, Clarel: A Poem and Pilgrimage in the Holy Land (New York, 1876). Edited by Walter E. Bezanson for Hendricks House, Inc. (New York, 1960).

Daytonian in Manhattan: The Lost Clement C. Moore "Chelsea House"

Daytonian in Manhattan: The Lost Clement C. Moore "Chelsea House": Valentine's Manual of the Corporation of the City of New York, 1856 (copyright expired) Retired British Army Captain Thomas Clarke...

Wednesday, September 21, 2022

Melvilliana: THE WHALE in Liverpool

Melvilliana: THE WHALE in Liverpool: Past the wrecks of Woke academia, Melvilliana sails on...

Hahahaha. Kevin J. Hayes playing catch-up in Notes and Queries documents the early notice of Moby-Dick in the Liverpool Albion:
Kevin J Hayes, E. B. Neill and Moby-DickNotes and Queries, 2022;, gjac100,
Advance article just published yesterday, but last year's news on Melvilliana!

Monday, September 19, 2022

Pierre ๐Ÿ’• Lucy

Accessible courtesy of the great Internet Archive, a virtual version of the 1929 edition of Pierre; or, The Ambiguities, introduced by John Brooks Moore with a preface by H. M. Tomlinson, and published in New York, NY by E. P. Dutton & Co. The real thing is from Trent University Library, donated by the distinguished Canadian scholar Gordon Roper (1911-2005) and apparently containing his marginal annotations.

One annotation in Roper's copy of Pierre strikes me as especially good, the neatly inscribed comment in the left margin on page 44, next to a passage from the fourth section of Book II, Love, Delight, and Alarm. Part IV starts on page 43 of this edition and ends near the top of page 47 with "what wonder then that Love was aye a mystic?" 

Since the 1980's, academic critics for the most part have regarded Melville's language in this particular section of Pierre as excessively romantic and sentimental. So obviously overblown, that it can't be taken seriously. Most take it for satire. Melville must be joking when his narrator avows, for instance, that

Love is both Creator's and Saviour's gospel to mankind; a volume bound in rose-leaves , clasped with violets, and by the beaks of humming-birds printed with peach-juice on the leaves of lilies.

Introducing the Norton Critical Edition of Pierre, editors Robert S. Levine and Cindy Weinstein highlight "humor and parody" as the chief effects of Melville's "overworked prose" in Book II.  

For Samuel Otter in Melville's Anatomies (University of California Press, 1999) Melville's imagery is "absurdly literalized" (page 205).

Fearless of contradiction, Robert Milder described the Edenic opening of Pierre as Melville's "grotesque" and "diabolical parody of the romance."
MILDER, ROBERT. “MELVILLE’S ‘INTENTIONS’ IN ‘PIERRE.’” Studies in the Novel 6, no. 2 (1974) pages 186–99 at 192-193.

One consequence of this view is that Lucy Tartan, the proper heroine of Pierre, gets lost way before Pierre dumps her and moves to the city with Isabel and Delly. Isabel, maybe Pierre's half sister, has effectively displaced Lucy in Melville criticism as well as in the twisted mind of Melville's enthusiast-hero Pierre Glendinning.

Disheartened by so many Lucy-less views I exclaimed in wonder, great googly-moogly!  Have these eminent English professors never been in love? Gordon Roper knew better. As rightly remarked in the margin, Melville's fantastically infatuate "style" exactly suits Pierre's mood and perfectly captures the insanely elevated feelings of any red-blooded youth in his predicament:

"style of these opening pages his attempt to give the reader the feeling of the young man in first love." 

Project MUSE - Gordon Roper

Project MUSE - Gordon Roper

Saturday, September 3, 2022

A Charm in Life

Fresco depicting Clare of Assisi holding a lily

Beads from a Rosary

A Charm in Life

     A charm in life
And safe-conducts in death,
Says Sister St. Clare,
Are the Lilies and Roses White.
Come away from the Tulips
Poor flaunters that flare
These Lilies and Roses attain,
For theirs are Christ’s sweetness and light.

-- Herman Melville

Transcribed and edited from the digital manuscript image, accessible online via Harvard Library:

  • Persistent Link
  • Description Melville, Herman, 1819-1891. Unpublished poems : autograph manuscript, undated. Herman Melville papers, 1761-1964. MS Am 188 (369.1). Houghton Library, Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass.Folder 1. Weeds and wildings: As they Fell.
  • Page sheet 3v (seq. 6)
  • Repository Houghton Library
  • Institution Harvard University
  • Accessed 03 September 2022
In print, a transcription of "A charm in Life" may be found with editorial notes for the poem Rosary Beads in Herman Melville, Billy Budd, Sailor and Other Uncompleted Writings, edited by G. Thomas Tanselle, Harrison Hayford, Hershel Parker, Robert Sandberg and Alma MacDougall Reising (Northwestern University Press and The Newberry Library, 2017) page 618. Also transcribed in the footnotes to my essay on Substack,

Friday, September 2, 2022

Miracle roses in ROSARY BEADS, borrowed from the real LIFE OF SAINT ELIZABETH

Good morning from the prairie! Breaking news... my latest essay on Substack, Saint Elizabeth's Miracle of Roses in Melville's Rosary Beads finds the inspiration for the red and white roses in the second stanza of Melville's poem Rosary Beads in the world-famous miracle roses of Saint Elizabeth of Hungary.


Melville’s image of red and white roses that used to be meat and bread alludes to a delightful highlight in the life of St. Elizabeth of Hungary, the miracle of the roses. The story is well told in a book we know Melville owned and commended to family members, The Life of Saint Elizabeth of Hungary:

Elizabeth loved to carry secretly to the poor, not alone money, but provisions and other matters which she destined for them. She went thus laden, by the winding and rugged paths that led from the castle to the city, and to the cabins of the neighbouring valleys.

One day, when accompanied by one of her favourite maidens, as she descended by a rude little path—(still pointed out) —and carried under her mantle bread, meat, eggs, and other food to distribute to the poor, she suddenly encountered her husband, who was returning from hunting. Astonished to see her thus toiling on under the weight of her burthen, he said to her, “Let us see what you carry”—and at the same time drew open the mantle which she held closely clasped to her bosom ; but beneath it were only red and white roses, the most beautiful he had ever seen and this astonished him, as it was no longer the season of flowers. Seeing that Elizabeth was troubled, he sought to console her by his caresses, but he ceased suddenly, on seeing over her head a luminous appearance in the form of a crucifix. He then desired her to continue her route without being disturbed by him, and he returned to Wartburg, meditating with recollection on what God did for her, and carrying with him one of those wonderful roses, which he preserved all his life. At the spot where this meeting took place, he erected a pillar, surmounted by a cross, to consecrate for ever the remembrance of that which he had seen hovering over the head of his wife.12

In humbly ministering to the poor Elizabeth did all the moralizing speaker asks in the second (or third, reviving “A Charm in Life”) segment of Rosary Beads. Through her generous and exemplary foodservice this princess did “live up to the Rose’s light” and duly received the promised blessing of red and white roses, unnaturally beautiful and magically transmuted from ordinary meat and bread. Faithfully narrated by Montalembert, the story of Elizabeth’s miracle roses is the poet’s unnamed exemplum in Without Price.

Related post:

  • A Charm in Life