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The “Beheaded” Chimney and the Defeated Masculine Genius: A Study of Melville’s Short Stories

Publication Date
  • 작가의식
  • Authorship
  • 멜빌
  • Melville
  • 「나와 나의 굴뚝」
  • "I And My Chimney"
  • 단편소설
  • Short Story
  • 문학시장
  • Literary Marketplace
  • Literature


Among Melville’s magazine stories written between 1853 and 1855, many deal with figures for the “failed” male artist placed in a variety of domestic, social, and commercial settings. In this paper, I discuss his three later stories, “Jimmy Rose,” “The Apple-Tree Table,” and “I and My Chimney,” in which the old-fashioned male householders and the female family members with more modern spirit in everything compete for the authority in the house. I argue that this kind of gender conflict between the male and the female in the domestic setting can be read as a projection of Melville’s conflict with the “feminized” literary marketplace at the time. Therefore, mainly focusing on the last short story, I am trying to figure out Melville’s perspective on the marketplace and domestic relationship of the male protagonist and on the consequence for himself to his vision. “I and My Chimney” features, in the narrator’s relation to its central symbol, one of the author’s richest images for the need to defend masculine genius against the assaults of a feminizing world. The “beheaded” chimney, which the narrator calls his “backbone,” functions as a kind of phallic monument to Melville’s own literary career, damaged but not destroyed, and with its foundations still in place.

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