‘The Rule of Men Entirely Great’: Republicanism, Ritual, andRichelieuin Melville’s ‘The Two Temples’

Michael J Collins
  • Comparative American Studies An International Journal, December 2012, Taylor & Francis
  • DOI: 10.1179/1477570012z.00000000021

Republicanism and Theatre in Herman Melville's "Two Temples"

What is it about?

This essay considers Herman Melville's engagement with the British playwright Edward Bulwer-Lytton's 1839 work "Richelieu, or The Conspiracy" in his short story "The Two Temples". I consider how Melville's changing politics in the 1850s coincided with his increasing use of British theatrical material. I also show how the short story served as a bridge between British and American conceptions of the role of the author in relation to government.

Why is it important?

This is the first publication to take seriously Melville's engagement with Victorian theatre. I show how Melville's investment in Anglophilia and class politics drew him to utilise British theatrical sources in his short fiction.

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http://dx.doi.org/10.1179/1477570012z.00000000021

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