By Wyn Kelley
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Extra info for A companion to Herman Melville
Melville: A Biography. New York: Clarkson Potter, 1996; Boston and Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 1998. A Companion to Herman Melville Edited by Wyn Kelley Copyright © 2006 by Blackwell Publishing Ltd 2 Cosmopolitanism and Traveling Culture Peter Gibian Cosmopolitanism and American Literature When people first hear the words ‘‘cosmopolitan’’ and ‘‘American Literature’’ in the same sentence, they tend to think of the early twentieth century. Two major waves of famous American writers went abroad in that era to put American writing at the forefront of international literary developments, forging an American literature centered on the ‘‘International Theme’’ and defining an international modernism fundamentally concerned with issues of cosmopolitanism in what was seen as a newly ‘‘cosmopolitan’’ world.
The following year, with New York’s trade with Europe and the Far East far outstripping that of both Boston and Philadelphia, Allan decided to move his family and his business there. Maria, who was certain her husband’s enterprise and ambition would earn them a place among the city’s fashionables, half-reluctantly agreed. By the spring of 1818, thanks to loans from his father that enabled him to purchase luxury French dry goods, Allan sailed for France, stopping first in Edinburgh, where he hoped to establish the family’s descent from Scottish nobility.
Their daughter Bessie, crippled by arthritis by the time she was 26, lived at home. Her sister Frances married happily and had four daughters who were the delight of their grandmother’s old age. In March, 1888, Melville made his last ocean voyage, to Bermuda, arriving back in New York to find the mountains of snow from the great blizzard of ’88 piled up before his house. During the last three years of his life, Melville completed three volumes of poetry he had been working on for years, and with Lizzie’s help he published them privately: John Marr and Other Sailors (1888), Timoleon (1891), and Weeds and Wildings, with A Rose or Two (1891).