Monumental Melville offers the first extended analysis of Melville's career to read his prose and the poetry that followed it as a legible sequence in a writing life. When Melville turned to poetry at mid-career, he deliberately abandoned the conventions of fiction and the shared public world they imply. Monumental Melville focuses first on the way Melville's growing disdain for fame "of the literary sort" informs Moby-Dick and Melville's later fiction, then goes on to offer close readings of his published verse, exposing a poetics of double-dealing based on an ironic interplay between the text and the contexts it allusively arouses. Countering the historical and political approaches that have marked Melville scholarship for the last two decades, the book emphasizes the significance of the literary to Melville and the essential role of close reading in understanding his work. By revealing and celebrating the form that makes Melville's poetry unique―and a logical development from his fiction―Monumental Melville makes a fundamental contribution to the new scholarly recognition of its value and importance.