Jump to ContentJump to Main Navigation
Quiet TestimonyA Theory of Witnessing from Nineteenth-Century American Literature$
Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content.

Shari Goldberg

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780823254774

Published to Fordham Scholarship Online: May 2014

DOI: 10.5422/fordham/9780823254774.001.0001

Show Summary Details
Page of

PRINTED FROM FORDHAM SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.fordham.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Fordham University Press, 2017. All Rights Reserved. Under the terms of the licence agreement, an individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in FSO for personal use (for details see http://www.fordham.universitypressscholarship.com/page/privacy-policy).date: 23 November 2017

Melville

Melville

Testimony without Voice

Chapter:
(p.87) 3 Melville
Source:
Quiet Testimony
Author(s):

Shari Goldberg

Publisher:
Fordham University Press
DOI:10.5422/fordham/9780823254774.003.0004

Melville cryptically closes Benito Cereno by emphasizing the “voiceless end” of the slave leader, Babo. On the one hand, the weight of the story, including all of its omissions and oddities, seems to land in this phrase, rendering it a final testimonial claim. On the other hand, Melville is insistent (especially in Pierre) that silence cannot be translated into voice, which means that Babo’s voicelessness can make no claim at all. This chapter examines how to adequately engage the voiceless end. It reads Melville’s words against the etymological history of silence, and it compares his challenging position to that of more recent human rights writing. Ultimately, Melville is shown to elide the expectation that testimony be correlated to the category of voice. Other narrative entities, in particular the air around the ship the San Dominick, register the truth of the text by disturbing the characters without saying anything.

Keywords:   Silence, Voicelessness, Testimony, Stones, Human Rights, Herman Melville, Benito Cereno, Pierre, Bartleby, Moby-Dick

Fordham Scholarship Online requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books within the service. Public users can however freely search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter.

Please, subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you think you should have access to this title, please contact your librarian.

To troubleshoot, please check our FAQs , and if you can't find the answer there, please contact us .