Herman Melville (1819–1891)

Edited by Louis P. Masur

in “… The Real War Will Never Get in the Books”

Published in print September 1995 | ISBN: 9780195098372
Published online October 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780199853908 | DOI:
Herman Melville (1819–1891)

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Herman Melville published nine books and a collection of stories, including Moby-Dick, a book he loved but the critics failed to understand. Near the end of the conflict of the Civil War, Melville found his subject and voice. Published in 1866, Battle-Pieces and Aspects of the War consists of seventy-one poems and a prose supplement. A complex work, the poems of Battle-Pieces attempted to tell in chronological order the stories of the Civil War. In the “Supplement,” he asks his readers to consider the plausibility of the Southern position on the eve of war. He acknowledges the “atheistical iniquity” of slavery, but the freedmen are not his primary concern. It is not that he desired to abandon blacks. However, he believed that the bitterness between sections had to be eliminated if there was ever to be cooperation between races.

Keywords: Herman Melville; Battle-Pieces and Aspects of War; slavery; blacks; Civil War; poems

Chapter.  5487 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: History of the Americas

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