I look forward to immersing myself in this new volume of poetry, Portrait and Landscape: Further Geographies, by poet, Melville scholar, world traveler, and 21st century cosmopolitan, A. Robert Lee. The book is forthcoming from Printed Matter Press. Click the image to open up a large image of the book’s front and back covers.
FROM THE BOOK JACKET
Portrait and Landscape. Vertical and Horizontal. Two terms used in printing and the visual arts as well as in the general round. In Portrait and Landscape, Further Geographies they double-up again as framing for a gallery of people and place. The portraiture opens with Herman Melville. Ocean-voyager, steersman, diver. In his wake follow personally known writers and a span of friendships and close encounters. Brits, Americans, Europeans, Asians. The landscapes at hand also and equally summon the Atlantic and Pacific. Geo-worlds. Interiors as much as exteriors. Versifications of both site and itinerary.
A. Robert Lee was a Professor in the English department at Nihon University, Tokyo from 1997-20 l l. British-born he previously taught at the University of Kent, UK. His creative work includes Japan Textures: Sight and Word, with Mark Gresham (2007), Tokyo Commute: Japanese Customs and Way of Life Viewed.from the Odakyu Line (2011) and Ars Geographica: Maps and Compasses (2012), also a Printed Matter Press publication. Among his academic publications are Multicultural American Literature: Comparative Black, Native, Latino/a and Asian American Fictions (2003), which won the American Book Award in 2004, and Modern American Counter Writing: Beats, Outriders, Ethnics (2010). He has also published widely on Melville. Currently he lives in Murcia, Spain.
Hershel Parker’s new book, Melville Biography: An Inside Narrative, has finally begun shipping. Click here to order it now at Amazon. Reading it is bound to inspire and challenge all readers, critics, and scholars invested in appreciating and understanding the life and writings of Herman Melville. Though the subject is Melville biography, literary biographers of any subject will find Parker’s intimate, autobiographical account of his decades-long efforts to analyze and assess Melville’s writings in the context of his life and times to be filled with insightful, historiographically framed discussions and analyses related to the art of literary biography.
Here is a full quote from the first Amazon review, by “New Englander” J. O’Connell:
If you have any interest in Melville, Moby-Dick, literary biography … or beautiful, lucid prose, Professor Parker’s magnificent new book is for you. I can’t recommend it highly enough. Imagine: A brilliant scholar who can write! No wonder Parker understands Melville better than any of the many Melvillians working today — he is a fellow writer. The book is chock-full of so many illuminating and fascinating elements. Whether he is explaining to us — always so clearly and entertainingly — what he knows of Melville’s hotel dinner with Hawthorne, at which HM presented one of the first copies of Moby-Dick to its dedicatee, and how he knows it, or elucidating the enormity of the cost HM (and his family) paid for his genius and it manifestation on paper, Parker is always your favorite college lecturer — wise, informed, enthused, reasoned, often funny, and empathetic. He desires to tell you why he loves Melville and why you will, too. Parker also knows the value of archival research — and the hours and miles logged during the creation of his definitive two-volume life of HM are stunning. Mr. Parker has the ability to convey the excitement of the true research scholar in the moment of “the find,” as in this passage: “There will always be a few literary detectives who devote months or years to the pursuit of documents in the confidence that at last they will sit at midnight in a little bare motel room in Spartanburg, South Carolina, and turn through a big shoebox full of what looks like only bills of lading until they spy a blue folded paper, clearly a letter, a letter with the signature `Really Thine, H Melville’…”
Melville, our greatest novelist, deserves Parker, our greatest biographer. My own opinion is that Parker was robbed of the Pulitzer for Herman Melville: A Biography. Is it too much to hope that the Pulitzer committee corrects its mistake by selecting Melville Biography: An Inside Narrative for next year’s prize?
No, not too much to hope — let’s hope. I happily have just received my copy and look forward to sharing my thoughts here as I read again through the chapters that I was fortunate to have read in draft form as well as the new chapters I have yet to read. The notes are copious. Just a glance shows them to be full of important information and challenges.
Enjoy this conversation between Ian Campell and Jake Heggie, composer of the Moby-Dick Opera. The opera had its premiere at the Dallas Opera in Dallas, Texas only two years ago on April 30, 2010. Since then it has been performed to enthusiastic audiences at the San Diego Opera, State Opera of South Australia, and the Calgary Opera. Moby-Dick will next be performed by the San Francisco Opera on October 10, 13, 18, 21, 23, 26, 30 and November 2, 2012.