This Afric Temple of the Whale

  • Brian R. Pellar
Part of the American Literature Readings in the 21st Century book series (ALTC)


In this chapter, Pellar discusses how Narcissus and Melville’s “phantom of life” images are the key to understanding the hidden antislavery allegory throughout Moby-Dick. Pellar then discusses how Melville wove many references to Africa throughout his book. By symbolically equating black whales as African slaves and attributing to them “genius” and qualities “both ponderous and profound,” Melville secretly points out the irony and hypocrisy of the Founding Fathers and contemporary politicians being fascinated by the symbols and legacy of Africa. Pellar then discusses the many links made by Melville between Egypt and whales, and between Egypt and Ahab as Captain of the Ship of State.


Sperm Whale Back Part African Slave White Whale Holy Ghost 
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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Brian R. Pellar
    • 1
  1. 1.BostonUSA

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