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Allegories of War: Paul de Man's Moby-Dick Translation
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Languages, Department of English.
2014 (English)In: Leviathan - a journal of Melville studies, ISSN 1525-6995, Vol. 16, no 3, 21-38 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This article deals with a Flemish translation of Moby-Dick, published in Antwerp in 1945, which has been attributed to the deconstructive critic Paul de Man in the Belgian phase of his career. The article's objective is twofold. First, it qualifies the well-intentioned but one-sided claim on the part of de Man scholars that the Moby-Dick translation constitutes a resolute turning point in de Man's ideological trajectory. Second, in doing so, it draws out some of the aporias of allegorical readings of the postwar period, which adopt a redemptive framework geared towards the American nation. My main claim is that, contrary to American liberal critics, de Man did not approach Moby-Dick in terms of a larger struggle against totalitarian closure, but rather responded to the theme of antimodernism and Melville's complex relation to imperialism. This interpretation is inferred from the modifications to the novel's situation of address, the amplification of martial imagery, and paratextual insertions by the translator. Rather than arguing for or against a specific reading of Moby-Dick, the article's larger aim is to highlight the displacements inherent in any allegorical interpretation of the novel.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2014. Vol. 16, no 3, 21-38 p.
National Category
Languages and Literature Specific Languages
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-247500DOI: 10.1353/lvn.2014.0032ISI: 000349825400003OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-247500DiVA: diva2:796425
Available from: 2015-03-19 Created: 2015-03-19 Last updated: 2016-04-14

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Boyden, Michael
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