Melville w kontekstach, czyli prolegomena do studiów melvillistycznych. (Kierunki badań-biografia-kultura)
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: Melville w kontekstach, czyli prolegomena do studiów melvillistycznych. (Kierunki badań-biografia-kultura)
: Paweł Jędrzejko
Abstract : Melville in Contexts: Prolegomena to Melvillean Studies
(Directions of Research — Biography — Culture)
The impulse to write the present book came from a surprising discovery. In the course of my library research focused upon Herman Melville’s philosophical involvements, I realized that the Polish scholarly bibliography offers very little when it comes to Melville studies. Unlike the scholarship of the United States, Western Europe, Australia or the Far East, which, since the 1920s, has generated a vast array of works dedicated to the life and oeuvre of the author of Moby-Dick, Polish scholars, for reasons deserving a separate study, seem to have been mostly locating their Americanist interests elsewhere. In effect, Polish Melville studies are still a budding discipline, despite the fact that the writer himself has been a part of the Polish literary culture for over a century. So far, not a single Melvillean monograph has come out in Polish, no reliable biography is available to the Polish reader and, surprisingly, the list of Melvillean translations continues to be incomplete.
In writing this book, I was driven by the hope that the synthesis it offers might become the source of inspiration for Polish literary scholars and students of literature and culture and thus, trigger off processes leading to the filling of the yawning gap in the Polish Americanist bibliography. The present Prolegomena serve an ancillary function: the book collects information compiled on the basis of research carried out throughout the past century by numerous Melvilleans: literary scholars, biographers and historians alike, whose work is either completely unknown to the Polish reader—or its circulation is limited to a narrow group of specialists. And even those specialists—with few exceptions—have proven to be interested in Melville only marginally. Although the availability of literature today is incomparably higher than it used to be fifteen years ago, the principle of the vicious circle still seems to be operating: the shortage of translations and the modest critical and academic output of works dedicated to the writer appear to stem from insufficient stimulation of interest in the oeuvre of one of the most influential intellectuals of the 19th century. The successful complementation of Polish research in world literature with studies dedicated to Herman Melville seems to be conditioned by the intensity of efforts oriented toward the breaking of the vicious circle: efforts made by individual scholars who would invest their energy in the organization of Melville-related conferences, screenings of Melville-related films, the launching of Melville-related websites and publishing articles and books dedicated to Herman Melville — in Polish.
The synthesis offered here does not presume to replace or substitute works by eminent Melville scholars from all over the world: conversely, in response to the need for reliable information concerning the writer, the present book aspires to live up to its title by proposing a convenient starting point for further, in-depth research and by facilitating navigation in the ocean of existing approaches and trends in Melville Studies, especially in the USA. Potential addressees of these Prolegomena are scholars who have initial interest in Melville, but who might use a reliable introduction which would not involve an excessive energy expenditure, as well as students of literature (especially graduate and postgraduate students working on their dissertations), teachers of 19th century American literature seeking to complement their lectures with reliable material, and Melville fans, who might not be related to academia, but would nonetheless appreciate access to information on their beloved writer in their own language.
: Herman Melville, Prolegomena to Melville Studies, Directions in Melville research, Melville's childhood, Melville's youth, Melville's sailing years, Melville's literary biography, Melville in Poland
||Department of American and Canadian Studies of the Institute of English Cultures and Literatures, University of Silesia in Katowice, Poland|
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