Chapter 33: The Specksnyder

So, now that we’ve gotten past that monumental chapter about every kind of whale that exists, it should be smooth sailing, right?

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Well, maybe not. This chapter can be challenging in a different way. It uses a lot of winks and nods and glancing references. It’s very easy to, as I did the first time, just sort of let your eyes scan over the page and not take much in from it. Continue reading “Chapter 33: The Specksnyder”

Chapter 32: Cetology

Oh boy, this chapter.

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This is a real monster. It’s very long, a bit dry, and mostly just… confusing, as to why it is even here. It is, oddly, one of the more famous ones, I feel. People love to talk about how every fact about whales in Moby Dick is wrong or how it goes wildly off topic and starts talking about pseudoscience. But I think that’s really not giving it enough credit. Continue reading “Chapter 32: Cetology”

Chapter 31: Queen Mab

Who doesn’t love a good description of somebody else’s dream? What’s that? Everyone? Everyone doesn’t love that?

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Well, too bad, that’s what this chapter is about. Luckily, while it is rather accurate to vague recollections of dreams in some ways, it is not quite as awful as having to hear about a real dream. This is still a piece of literature, Melville knows what he’s doing. Continue reading “Chapter 31: Queen Mab”

Chapter 30: The Pipe

Another tiny little chapter! I think this might be even shorter than Postscript, but it’s too close to call.

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This one has a bit more weight to it, though, as it concerns the actions of one Captain Ahab, who is quite an interesting subject. But what could even one such as he get up to in four short paragraphs? Let us see. Continue reading “Chapter 30: The Pipe”

Chapter 29: Enter Ahab; to Him, Stubb

This book is going to continue being a bit strange, playing with the form of the novel in some interesting ways. Just recently we had chapter titles repeating, and here we have one that’s a set of stage directions.

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It brings to mind the way that some books have a little summary of what happens in the chapter in the table of contents. “In which such and such does so and so and meets with what’s-her-name”, you know the type. Continue reading “Chapter 29: Enter Ahab; to Him, Stubb”

Chapter 28: Ahab

Well! It’s been a little while since I posted anything. Had another dogsitting gig this last week, and a minor personal crisis to attend to. But, I’m back at it now!

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Today we’ve got a real good one, the proper introduction of Captain Ahab, the most famous character in the book with the possible exception of the titular whale. Roughly one quarter of the way through this book, it’s about time he showed his face, there have certainly been enough hints and rumors about him to stoke our interest. Continue reading “Chapter 28: Ahab”

Chapter 27: Knights and Squires

Here we are again, taking a second crack at introducing the rest of the principal characters on this voyage. Now that Old Ishmael has had his feelings about the faults of courageous men, we get on with it.

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I didn’t even notice that these chapter have the same title until this reading. Just goes to show how little you can pay attention to a book when you’re just trying to make progress. Continue reading “Chapter 27: Knights and Squires”

Chapter 26: Knights and Squires

Alright, who’s ready to learn about Starbucks? The coffee chain started as a small shop on Western avenue near the Pike Place market in Seattle, back in the 1970s, but when that building bu-

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Wait, hold one, I’m reading more closely, today we’re talking about a singular Starbuck, that singular first mate of the ivory Pequod. Well, that’s a whole different kettle of fish! Continue reading “Chapter 26: Knights and Squires”

Chapter 24: The Advocate

Now that Ishmael has properly begun his fateful voyage, this book will freely shift between narrative and non-narrative sections with no transition necessary. Ishmael doesn’t need an excuse to go off on a tangent at sea, there’s plenty of free time to sit around and think his thoughts.

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This is the first chapter where we’re not following the narrative at all. This isn’t inspired by something in the last chapter. It’s not an anecdote connected to some incident that we get a glimpse of. It is purely Old Ishmael rambling about something. The narrative chain has been broken. The next time we pick it up, it may be hours after the Pequod left port, or months. We have no way of knowing.

Continue reading “Chapter 24: The Advocate”

Chapter 23: The Lee Shore

Ah, this chapter.

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This is one of the shorter ones in this massive tome. Not the shortest, I don’t think, there’s a chapter later on that’s only a single paragraph. But this one is definitely punching above its weight class when it comes to interesting thematic and philosophical meat to chew on versus length. Continue reading “Chapter 23: The Lee Shore”