Northern Illinois University Press


Inscrutable Malice

Theodicy, Eschatology, and the Biblical Sources of Moby-Dick

Jonathan A.  Cook

Though Moby-Dick is one of the most discussed and most-read works of American literature, the influence of the Bible has been overlooked in many contemporary studies of the novel. In Inscrutable Malice, Jonathan A. Cook expertly illuminates Melville’s abiding preoccupation with the problem of evil and the pervasive role of the Bible in shaping his iconic work.

Drawing on recent research in the fields of biblical studies, the history of religion, and comparative mythology, Cook provides a new interpretation of Moby-Dick that places Melville’s creative adaptation of the Bible at the center of the novel. Cook identifies two central concerns: the attempt to reconcile the goodness of God with the existence of evil and the discourse of the Christian end times involving the final destruction of evil.

With his detailed reading of Moby-Dick and the Bible, Cook makes a significant departure from the approaches of many recent works of Melville criticism. Accessible and erudite, Inscrutable Malice will appeal to scholars, students, and enthusiasts of Melville’s classic novel.

ISBN 978-0-87580-464-4
$48.00, Dec 2012, Cloth
6x9, 384 pages

Jonathan A. Cook has a Ph.D. from Columbia University and is the author of Satirical Apocalypse: An Anatomy of Melville’s The Confidence-Man (1996). He has published numerous articles and reviews on the writings of Melville, Hawthorne, Poe, Irving, and other nineteenth-century American authors. He lives and teaches in Northern Virginia.

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ISBN: 978-0-87580-464-4
Cloth $48.00