Un-Staging the Beginning: Herman Melville's Cetology

Rodolphe Gasché

in The Stelliferous Fold

Published by Fordham University Press

Published in print September 2011 | ISBN: 9780823234349
Published online January 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780823241279 | DOI:
Un-Staging the Beginning: Herman Melville's Cetology

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Ambiguous inception for cetology is both a branch of a positivistic, apparently nonfictional science and an entangled, intrinsic part of the writing of Moby-Dick itself. As a positivistic science, cetology is exterior to the narration, but as part of the fiction of which it partakes, it is encompassed by and inscribed in it. Undoubtedly, by lending itself to such an inscription, cetology as a natural science does not remain untouched. In short, what the narration postpones as an outset until its mention becomes indispensable is the language of science dealing with whales. In the framework of the narration, however, this language has no particular privilege, for it is simply one of the various languages displayed by Melville in Moby-Dick. This chapter is an attempt to put forth, by insisting on certain metaphors, this notion of the ineffable: the scene and the necessity of writing.

Keywords: cetology; nonfictional science; positivistic science; inscription; natural science

Chapter.  9989 words. 

Subjects: Literary Theory and Cultural Studies

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