Melville in the Antebellum Publishing Maelstrom

Michael J. Everton

in The Grand Chorus of Complaint

Published in print June 2011 | ISBN: 9780199751785
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780199896936 | DOI:
Melville in the Antebellum Publishing Maelstrom

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Chapter 5 illuminates implicit and explicit correlations between trade morality and Christian ethics and particularly the penultimate sociocultural morality of the golden rule. This Christian-cum-economic morality was really a function of the broader evolution of labor relations as the market attempted to balance capitalism and morality. Yet owing to their prominent roles in the burgeoning nationalism of American literary culture and national economy, publishers figured more prominently than most businessmen in debates over business ethics in the nineteenth century. This chapter argues that the golden rule provided a culturally valuable asset to the early American publishing industry even as it did little to actually regulate the trade, a fact that Herman Melville tried to represent in Pierre; or, The Ambiguities (1852) and “Bartleby, the Scrivener” (1853), both of which present authors debating the morality of a vocational sphere based on moral fraud.

Keywords: Herman Melville; Harper and Brothers; publishing; authorship; Pierre; or, The Ambiguities; Bartleby, the Scrivener; ethics

Chapter.  12175 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Literary Studies (1500 to 1800)

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