Moby-Dick, or; the Day the Towers Fell – Reading the Great American Novel Through a Post-9/11 Lens


  • Jo ten Bolscher Leiden


Moby-Dick, American Literature, 19th Century Literature, Herman Melville, William V. Spanos, Lawrence Buell, The Great American Novel, 9/11


The Great American Novel is a title without holder—though no book has had such an enduring and popular claim to it as Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick. In the century since its “revival” and time in the American consciousness, Moby-Dick has undergone successive waves of interpretation and adoration, with its doomed voyage seen as representative of various aspects of America—from her diversity to her hubris. In the 21st century, Moby-Dick remains as relevant as ever—something this paper seeks to interrogate by reading the epic through a post-9/11 lens. By homing in on which aspects of the novel seem to find purchase in the aftermath of 9/11, this paper will show that Moby-Dick’s vision of a nation constantly at war with itself is not just relevant to post-9/11 America, but to the core of the nation as a whole.