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An Introduction to Herman Melville and Moby Dick

The conference starts with a discussion of Herman Melville’s personal life and how it influenced his work, especially his religious background. Dr. White explores the central conflict between man and nature and then gives a sketch of the history, evolution, and place in literature of novels as a genre, demonstrating how Moby Dick, in its excruciating length and minute detail, takes the reader right into its world and onto the deck of the whaling ship, enduring with the crew the long periods of inaction between whale sightings. Dr. White goes on to begin examining the novel’s portrayal of the characteristics of the American people. These characteristics, uncomfortable to discover because they are so true, include especially America’s national anti-social dispositions. Dr. White ends this segment with a discussion of Melville’s spot-on presentation of the American attitude of shallowness and isolation towards religion.

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