Otter presents Melville's works as "inside narratives" offering material analyses of consciousness. Chapters center on the tattooed faces in Typee, the flogged bodies in White-Jacket, the scrutinized heads in Moby-Dick, and the desiring eyes and eloquent, constricted hearts of Pierre. Otter shows how Melville's books tell of the epic quest to know the secrets of the human body. Rather than dismiss contemporary beliefs about race, self, and nation, Melville inhabits them, acknowledging their appeal and examining their sway.
Meticulously researched and brilliantly argued, this groundbreaking study links Melville's words to his world and presses the relations between discourse and ideology. It will deeply influence all future studies of Melville and his work.