A great starting point for students seeking an introduction to Melville and the critical discussions surrounding his work. Call me Ishmael, begins Melville's most famous vel, Moby Dick. Like much of the Melville's writing, it's a deceptively simple line, a seemingly transparent surface that opens into dark oceans of meaning. And like many of Melville's vels, what follows is an incredible tale of madness, obsession, and disaster rife with metaphysical symbolism. Though neglected for decades after his death, today Melville stands as one of America's pre-eminent writers. Edited by Eric Carl Link, Professor of English at the University of Memphis, this volume in the Critical Insights series presents a variety of new essays on the American writer. For readers who are studying Melville for the first time, a biographical sketch relates the details of her life and four essays survey the critical reception of Melville's work, explore its cultural and historical contexts, situate Melville among his contemporaries, and review key themes in his work. Readers seeking a deeper understanding of the writer can then move on to other essays that explore topics like Melville's symbolism, metaphysics, and aesthetics; his views on faith and religion; his responses to the issues of his day, like slavery, industrialisation, and American democracy. Works discussed include Typee, Omoo, Moby Dick, Pierre, The Confidence Man, and Billy Bud as well as commonly studied selections of Melville's poetry. Among the contributors are Wyn Kelley, John Wenke, Steven Frye, and John Samson. Rounding out the volume are a chrology of Melville's life and a list of his principle publications as well as a bibliography for readers seeking to study this fascinating author in greater depth.