Jefferson's Convulsions: Archiving Logan

in On Lingering and Being Last

Published by Fordham University Press

Published in print October 2008 | ISBN: 9780823229406
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780823240982 | DOI:
Jefferson's Convulsions: Archiving Logan

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In this chapter the author focuses on the figure of the captive king led away from what Wai-Chee Dimock has convincingly argued is the dominant racial logic of Moby-Dick, namely, the fate linking Ahab and his voyage with the “doomed”Indians after whom his ship is named. The Pequod, Ishmael explains, were a “celebrated tribe of Massachusetts Indians” now as “extinct as the ancient Medes.” The last man to go down with the ship in Moby-Dick is Tashtego, the Gay-Head Indian, whose final act is to nail a sky-hawk's wing to the mainmast. The royal slave or captive king, insofar as he is essentially African, is fundamentally deterritorialized: his mythic element is the sea, and the ideal event to which the tradition orients its confused thinking about him is an ever-postponed emancipation.

Keywords: Moby-Dick; emancipation; Tashtego; sea; captive king; deterritorialized

Chapter.  12546 words. 

Subjects: Literary Studies (1500 to 1800)

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