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Zen and the White Whale: A Buddhist Rendering of Moby-Dick

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dc.contributor.author Herman, Daniel
dc.date.accessioned 2014-02-14T00:14:39Z
dc.date.accessioned 2022-11-03T00:38:03Z
dc.date.available 2014-02-14T00:14:39Z
dc.date.available 2022-11-03T00:38:03Z
dc.date.copyright 2011
dc.date.issued 2011
dc.identifier.uri https://ir.wgtn.ac.nz/handle/123456789/29402
dc.description.abstract This thesis is a study of the influence of Buddhist thought on Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick. It is widely known that Melville became interested in Buddhism in the last decades of his life—for example, the collection of poetry published in the last year of his life includes a short poem entitled “Buddha.” Scholars have shown that his awareness of Buddhism arose through his interest in philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer’s Pessimism and through reading popular works like Sir Edwin Arnold’s The Light of Asia. But as early as 1847, Melville was, at the very least, aware enough of “the grand lama of Thibet” to mention him in that year’s Omoo. And the five years (1844-1849) directly preceding the composition and publication of his greatest work, Moby-Dick, coincided with the period during which interest in Buddhism turned from an obscure curiosity among American intellectuals to formal research among Buddhist Studies scholars in the United States. While the depth of knowledge and understanding present in Melville’s later works is highly suspect, in Moby-Dick’s wide philosophical musings and central narrative arch we find a philosophy very closely aligned specifically with the original teachings of Zen Buddhism—a school of Buddhism founded with the intention of stripping away all religious dogmatism in favour of an experiential practice pointing directly to Ultimate Truth. In exploring the likelihood of this theoretical—and hitherto undiscovered— influence, this thesis begins with a short summary of the history of Buddhist Studies in the United States. Later, specific contemporary sources are considered—works Melville is either known to have had read or that there is a strong likelihood of his having come across—in hopes of demonstrating the profound resonance these works have with Moby-Dick. The majority of the present volume is a unique reading of Moby-Dick from a Zen Buddhist perspective, as it is expressed in both ancient and modern teachings en_NZ
dc.format pdf en_NZ
dc.language en_NZ
dc.language.iso en_NZ
dc.publisher Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington en_NZ
dc.subject Melville, Herman en_NZ
dc.subject Moby-Dick en_NZ
dc.subject Zen Buddhism en_NZ
dc.title Zen and the White Whale: A Buddhist Rendering of Moby-Dick en_NZ
dc.type Text en_NZ
vuwschema.contributor.unit School of English, Film, Theatre and Media Studies en_NZ
vuwschema.subject.anzsrctoa 1 Pure Basic Research en_NZ
vuwschema.subject.marsden 420206 North American (Literature Studies) en_NZ
vuwschema.type.vuw Awarded Doctoral Thesis en_NZ
thesis.degree.discipline English en_NZ
thesis.degree.grantor Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington en_NZ
thesis.degree.level Doctoral en_NZ
thesis.degree.name Doctor of Philosophy en_NZ

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