Two Intertwined Narratives in Herman Melville’s Billy Budd. A Study of the Author’s Literary Theory

Author: 
Year:2010
Pages:216
ISBN:0-7734-3707-X
978-0-7734-3707-4
Price:179.95
This work takes a new and decisive look at Herman Melville’s final work of prose fiction, Billy Budd, Sailor (An Inside Narrative). While exploring the novel’s textual, scholarly and critical history, Garner argues that Melville created two Billy Budds and that they exist as co-extensive narratives—one superimposed on the other, both tales occupying the same textual space, using the same words. These narratives operate in a shell-kernel relationship with the outside narrative providing cover for the nestled inside narrative.

Reviews

“Stanton Garner’s penetrating book takes a new and decisive look at Billy Budd, Sailor, even as he deftly situates his reader in relation to the main currents of the narrative’s scholarly and critical history. More fully and compellingly than any published account, Garner explores the question of what Melville might have meant by his provocative subtitle. In pursuing the question of what constitutes the ‘inside narrative’ Garner argues that Melville created two Billy Budds and that they exist as co-extensive narratives—one superimposed on the other, both tales occupying the same textual space, using the same words.” – Prof. John Wenke, Salisbury University

“Garner’s is one the few genuinely fresh, responsible, and thorough studies of “Billy Budd” to have appeared during the past few decades." – Prof. Donald Yannella, Rowan University

“Stanton Gamer brings to Billy Budd a lifetime devoted to Melville studies, personal experience in the U.S. Navy, an unwavering commitment to historical detail combined with close reading, and a profound regard for Melville’s continuing relevance to ethics, democracy, and morality.” – Prof. Dennis Berthold, Texas A&M University

Table of Contents

Foreword by John Wenke, PhD
Preface
Acknowledgments
Chapter 1 - In Defense of Billy Budd
Chapter 2 - Background
Chapter 3 - The Narrator, Billy Budd, and Captain Vere
Chapter 4 - The Great Mutiny and Nelson
Chapter 5 - Life and Death Aboard a Man-of-War
In No Time
Chapter 6 - Life and Death Aboard a Man-of-War
The Return to Time
Chapter 7 - Looking Back
Melville’s Geriatric Dementia Reconsidered
An Addendum
Works Cited