Ah, it’s been a little while, and this is not exactly an ideal chapter to come back with, though it is an interesting one. I’ve been having a bit of a depressive episode and lost myself in Final Fantasy XIV for a couple weeks, due to… *gestures broadly at the world*. As I sit here, the world outside my window blanketed with poisonous fog and haunted by the specter of a deadly virus, it feels somewhat frivolous to write about some 150-year-old book about whales. And yet, I shall, since I don’t really have anything better to do with my time. Continue reading “Chapter 79: The Prairie”→
Yes, I’m catching up on stuff I’ve been reading over the summer. This is the most recent book I’ve finished, actually, so it’s a bit more fresh in my mind than the Pelican Brief. This time, the book is one I’ve read before, thought it was a very long time ago, when I was but a small child. My dad used to read books to me and my brother, and Redwall and Mossflower were among them. I read a few of the later entries in the series on my own, but soon fell off, replacing it with Discworld in my heart.
Yes, after a few chapters in a row of straight philosophizing, Ishmael has deigned to give us some more Things That Actually Happened on his fateful whaling voyage. I often wonder how much of the initial poor reception of this book would have been mitigated if Melville mixed these two modes of writing together more evenly. I remember hearing that it went narrative and non-narrative every other chapter, but that’s obviously not true.
It would be rather odd if it was, since I only read a few chapters a week, and they’re usually not very long, and for months I wasn’t even updating this blog! No, while I haven’t been reading as much as usual lately, since I’m not working at the Pike Place Market for obvious reasons, I have been pecking away at some books before bed every night.
In the spirit of one of my favorite podcasts, I decided to make some posts about ’em. Just the usual reflections, but on a whole work instead of a little piece of it. It’s not a formal review, just some stray thoughts and observations, more in the style of my Moby Dick posts.
This is one of the chapters that really inspired me to do this blog.
The casual reader of Moby Dick, which I must assume exists because I was one, would come across this and be utterly confused. What the heck is a Heidelburgh Tun, and why is it being talked about like it’s some sort of famous reference that everyone knows? It’s a question that cries out for answering. This is the one that really got me started in on researching all these obscure 19th century references. Continue reading “Chapter 77: The Great Heidelburgh Tun”→
Boy I sure hope you’re ready for more whale physiology!
Continuing on with our little run of non-narrative chapters, today we’re getting a close examination of the sperm whale’s powerful forehead. Of course, this being Moby Dick, it has some deep philosophical implications that would drive a man mad if he fully understood them. Let’s get into it. Continue reading “Chapter 76: The Battering-Ram”→
I bet you never could’ve guessed this chapter title. Not in a million years.
In this chapter, we learn a bit more about the other whale, the one the southern whalers usually spurn, at least these days. And by “these days” I of course mean the 1840s, when this book was written. Nowadays, nobody is out hunting whales, except the Makah of the Washington coast, and the Japanese, probably. Continue reading “Chapter 75: The Right Whale’s head—Contrasted View”→
Okay, this may be a little less philosophical than I remembered.
But, I will find a way to make it so, in my particular way. Not to say that Ishmael stays squarely on topic for the whole chapter, such a thing has almost never happened, but it isn’t the feast of direct philosophical references I was assuming. I guess it is just that one off-handed remark from the last chapter, where he calls one head Locke and the other Kant. I remember a lot about Kant from my philosophical studies, but little about Locke, so I couldn’t expand much on that anyway. Continue reading “Chapter 74: The Sperm Whale’s Head—Contrasted View”→
Today’s chapter is back in more grounded territory, after the high-minded philosophy of the last few. Just some good ol’ fashioned whale butchering shenanigans with Ishmael and Queequeg. Remember them? The ostensible deuteragonists of this book? They’re back! Continue reading “Chapter 72: The Monkey-Rope”→