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American TerrorThe Feeling of Thinking in Edwards, Poe, and Melville$
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Paul Hurh

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780804791144

Published to Stanford Scholarship Online: January 2016

DOI: 10.11126/stanford/9780804791144.001.0001

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Space, Time, and Automata in The Piazza Tales

(p.203) 5 Dread
American Terror

Paul hurh

Stanford University Press

This chapter considers the tone of dread unifying the disparate tales in Melville’s The Piazza Tales, and argues that the collection’s construction of terror underwrites specifically human encounters between felt subject and perceived other. Drawing upon the spatial and temporal contours of Kierkegaard’s and Heidegger’s theorization of dread, this chapter analyzes how Melville’s tales figure space and time within an unsettling affective matrix that accords with how opens the possibility of perception in the continental philosophical tradition. The chapter concludes that, through the fatal automaton in “The Bell-Tower,” Melville doesn't represent the human as object, but rather the perfect human subject whose very possibility is felt by the dread of our distance from it. Whereas this book begins with the terrors of objectivity, Edwards’s version of the will bound inextricably to the terrors of hell, it ends with a portrait of the terror of the perfect ideal subject.

Keywords:   Melville, The Piazza Tales, “The Bell-Tower,” Kierkegaard, Heidegger, Dread, Angst

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