Eric Wertheimer, ““Jupiter Underwritten: Melville's Unsafe Home”” (pp.176––201)
Taking Herman Melville's short story ““The Lighting-Rod Man”” (1854) as my interpretive reference point, in this essay I seek to understand how the idea of accidental loss was critical to the unfolding of Melville's career as a writer. The story manages to satirize commercial language as well as the discourses of safety and insurance underwriting that were part of Melville's bitter experience with his own property——whether as a homeowner or author. Moreover, the thematics of safety are discussed in the contexts of the legal and philosophical currents within the historical period, showing how Melville participates in a response to modernity that was uniquely centered on a critique of language.
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