This Afric Temple of the Whale
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.
KeywordsSperm Whale Back Part African Slave White Whale Holy Ghost
- Bernal, Martin. Black Athena: The Afro-Asiatic Roots of Classical Civilization. Vol. 1, The Fabrication of Ancient Greece 1785–1985. New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 1987.Google Scholar
- Castronovo, Russ, and Dana D. Nelson, “Fahrenheit 1861: Cross Patriotism in Melville and Douglass.” Frederick Douglass and Herman Melville: Essays in Relation. Ed. Robert S. Levine and Samuel Otter. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2008.Google Scholar
- Decker, William Merrill, “‘Who Ain’t a Slave?’: Moby-Dick and the Slave Narrative Tradition.” Literature in the Early American Republic: Annual Studies on Cooper and His Contemporaries 1 (2009): 29–55.Google Scholar
- Garrison, William Lloyd, “Address to the Colonization Society.” July 4, 1829. http://teachingamericanhistory.org.
- Lefkowitz, Mary. Not Out of Africa: How Afrocentrism Became an Excuse to Teach Myth as History. New York: Basic Books, 1997.Google Scholar
- Melville, Herman. Moby-Dick. 1851. Edited by Harrison Hayford and Hershel Parker. New York: W. W. Norton, 1967b. Page numbers are to the 1967 edition.Google Scholar
- Melville, Herman. Pierre. 1852. New York: Library of America, 1984b.Google Scholar
- Robillard, Douglas, ed. The Poems of Herman Melville. Kent: Kent State University Press, 2000.Google Scholar
- Snowden, Frank M., Jr., “Bernal’s ‘Blacks’ and the Afrocentrists.” Black Athena Revisited. Edited by Mary R. Lefkowitz and Guy Maclean Rogers. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1996.Google Scholar
- Wallace, Robert K. Douglas and Melville: Anchored Together in Neighborly Style. New Bedford: Spinner Publications, Inc., 2005.Google Scholar