"Parker's impressive scholarship and a vigorous analysis are cause for celebration. Too often reviewers misuse the word 'definitive'; not so in this case. The meticulous Parker has practically reconstructed Melville's DNA and in doing so has rendered American literature a signal service. Parker recounts Melville's chronic bad luck, epic writing binges, failed lectures, surreal visions and troubled marriage. It's a saga of genius refusing to be derailed. But Parker unearths a plethora of new material, including previously unknown family correspondence and even the title and plot of Melville's long-lost novel, The Isle of the Cross."