The American Novel series provides students of American literature with introductory critical guides to the great works of American fiction by giving details of the novel's composition, publication history and contemporary reception. The group of essays, each specially commissioned from a leading scholar in the field, examines the interpretative methods and prominent ideas on the text. There are also helpful guides to further reading. Specifically designed for undergraduates, the series will be a powerful resource for anyone engaged in the critical analysis of major American novels. This collection of essays on Moby-Dick reconnects Melville's great work with concerns that are central to readers in critical studies. Richard Brodhead introduces the volume with a discussion of the book's unique place in the canon of American literature. He then recounts the novel's history from its mixed reception in the mid-nineteenth century to its prevalent status as a classic. The five essays that follow focus on various aspects of the novel: its vision of nature, its drama of social alienation, its religious defiance, and its splendid variety of language.