This is the fourth book I’ve read by Andrew Delbanco. He never disappoints with his keen insights into literature, culture, and American history.
I am very interested in the first half of nineteenth century America. As a Christian, there are many significant movements of thought swirling which make it endlessly fascinating and challenging.
Delbanco’s Melville has the author’s characteristic brilliance: great writing coupled with brilliant insights. For me, one of the most poignant things is seeing how well Delbanco captures the tormented genius of Melville along with showcasing the compassion of his dear friend, Nathaniel Hawthorne.
Christian ministers could learn a lot about compassion and being patient with serial doubters like Melville.
I have two seminary degrees and would love to see books like this as required reading in the curriculum.
Moby Dick has my vote as the Great American Novel. There are so many biblical allusions in it, that they are hard to count– from characters with improbable names such as Ahab and Ishmael to a whole chapter devoted to a sermon on Jonah to the final “resurrection” scene to a closing quote from Job.
I am going to be giving lectures on The Bible as Literature for the next two Sundays at our church, and I will start out noting all the great fiction writers who have been influenced by the Bible, even though many of them were unbelievers. They seem to appreciate the Bible’s literary genius much more than most Christians. We are so busy trying to figure out WHAT the Bible is saying that we spend little time thinking about HOW it says it. And the two are closely related.
I second your vote. Even over Twain and Hawthorne who would be close seconds.
It is amazing how many did not appreciate Moby Dick, both during Melville’s own time and even afterwards.