The charisma of Ahab, captain of Herman Melville's famous whale-hunting vessel Pequod, is a well-established topic of inquiry in various disciplines. His charismatic leadership has been described with the help of Max Weber's Wirtschaft und Gesellschaft, deciphered as anticipating Nazism, pathologized as monomania, and analogized to political leaders ranging from Osama bin Laden to George W. Bush. But there is another reason to connect Ahab and charisma that has never been mentioned: when Ahab is described as a charismatic type and, vice versa, when the “Ahab-type” is used to produce a theory of charisma, Melville and Weber are drawing on the same source, King Ahab of the Old Testament. Based on these biblical traces in Melville and Weber, this article proposes a new reading both of Moby-Dick and of Weber's theory of charismatic leadership.
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Niels Werber; Ahab's Charisma: Captains, Kings, and Prophets. New German Critique 1 November 2011; 38 (3 (114)): 51–62. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/0094033X-1340039
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