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

Collins, Michael James (2012) ‘The Rule of Men Entirely Great’: Republicanism, Ritual, and Richelieu in Melville’s ‘The Two Temples’. Comparative American Studies, 10 (4). pp. 304-317. ISSN 1477-5700. (doi:10.1179/1477570012Z.00000000021) (Access to this publication is currently restricted. You may be able to access a copy if URLs are provided) (KAR id:33940)

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This article explores the complex and multifarious reasons behind Herman

Melville’s decision to refer to the English playwright Edward Bulwer-Lytton’s

1839 work Richelieu, or The Conspiracy in his 1854 diptych ‘The Two Temples’.

It responds to a critical tradition that has seen the reference merely as a

sarcastic attack on William Macready (whose rivalry with the American actor

Edwin Forrest was the nominal cause of the bloody 1849 Astor Place Riot

in New York), by contextualizing the play within traditions of antebellum

American Anglophilia. By using a combination of new critical work on Anglo-

Americanism and anthropological ritual theory, I show how Bulwer-Lytton’s

play was significant to Melville’s artistic development. In particular, I show

how the play influenced his increasing engagement with republican and

theatrical forms of expression that emphasized the importance of filial relationships

between America and Britain in a period of increasing hostility

between the two nations.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.1179/1477570012Z.00000000021
Uncontrolled keywords: Astor Place, Melville, Bulwer-Lytton, Republicanism, Anglophilia, theatre, Macready, diptych, Richelieu, ‘The Two Temples’
Subjects: E History America
P Language and Literature > PR English literature
P Language and Literature > PS American literature
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Arts and Humanities > School of English
Depositing User: Michael Collins
Date Deposited: 22 May 2013 10:56 UTC
Last Modified: 16 Nov 2021 10:11 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

University of Kent Author Information

Collins, Michael James.

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