A critical dictionary of Herman Melville's Polynesian terms
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The dissertation is divided into five chapters and focuses primarily on MelvilleÃ¢ÂÂs Typee, Omoo, Mardi, and Moby Dick. Chapter I introduces the idea that Melville understood Polynesian better than what critics have demonstrated, and that he used the Polynesian language to develop his own multicultural aesthetic. Chapter II discusses how Melville attempts to resolve his aesthetic preoccupations by opening his narratives to the literary potential of the Polynesian language. The chapter examines representative examples of the orthographic idiosyncrasies of MelvilleÃ¢ÂÂs Polynesian adoptions and adaptations which describe his new literary aesthetic. The chapter also investigates how MelvilleÃ¢ÂÂs Polynesian aesthetic affects the construction of meaning in his texts. The chapter finally discusses examples of past editorial choices which have sidestepped MelvilleÃ¢ÂÂs Polynesian aesthetic and, thus, provided readers with a limited understanding of the Polynesian languageÃ¢ÂÂs role in MelvilleÃ¢ÂÂs texts. Chapter III analyzes samples of MelvilleÃ¢ÂÂs Polynesian adoptions and adaptations from the above narratives to emphasize the role of the Polynesian language in his Pacific experience. This chapterÃ¢ÂÂs intention is to underline the interaction between MelvilleÃ¢ÂÂs Polynesian language and culture and his texts, which engendered a complex multicultural aesthetic that permeated his first three works, continued to influence his later writings, and contributed significantly to his cosmopolitan vision of American cultural identity. Chapter IV contains the dictionary, which incorporates approximately two hundred entries. Each entry is divided into four sections. The first is a series of quotes from MelvilleÃ¢ÂÂs texts that illustrate the various meanings that Melville has given to the term being examined. The second is a list of definitions from various dialects, intended to underline the various Polynesian linguistic elements that Melville adopted or adapted to construct each particular term. The third is an interpretative paragraph that explains how each term is divided into its constituent parts based on MelvilleÃ¢ÂÂs aesthetic. The fourth section contains specific quotes from other sources of the particular term that underline the significance of that source to MelvilleÃ¢ÂÂs knowledge of the particular term. Chapter V concludes with the idea that this dissertation is meant as a starting guide to reexamining MelvilleÃ¢ÂÂs Polynesian aesthetic.
Christodoulou, Constantine (2006). A critical dictionary of Herman Melville's Polynesian terms. Doctoral dissertation, Texas A&M University. Texas A&M University. Available electronically from