The influence of Camoe¨ns' Lusiad on Melville's Moby-Dick

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Nelda Reynolds Cockman (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site:
Robert Stephens

Abstract: This study is an analysis of the possible influence of the Portuguese epic, The Lusiad (1572) on the form, style and spirit of Herman Melville's American epic, Moby-Dick (1851). Chapter I indicates Melville's constant practice of borrowing from other literary works and his tendency to look to the elements of earlier classics to supplement his materials and style. The chapter also identifies Melville's narrative as an epic, illustrating his propensity toward the expansive classic form. Chapter II reveals evidence in Melville's novels and poems and evidence from biographers and critics that Melville knew Camöens' Lusiad and felt admiration and respect for the epic work. The similarity of the epic form of both writers is the subject of the third chapter which demonstrates parallel fulfillment of the requisites of literary epic in both works and their likeness of manner and purpose. The concluding chapter assesses the affinity of spirit in Melville and Camöens, takes note of textual influence of The Lusiad on Moby-Dick, and makes observations of the correspondence of their respective eras. The result is substantial evidence of a definite influence of the historical Portuguese epic on Melville's American sea story.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 1969
Camo~es, Lui´s de, $d 1524?-1580. $t Lusi´adas
Melville, Herman, $d 1819-1891 $x Criticism and interpretation
Melville, Herman, $d 1819-1891. $t Moby Dick

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