Chapter 79: The Prairie

Alright! Time to dig into some race “science”!

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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”

Chapter 78: Cistern and Buckets

Ah, here we go, back to action!

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.

Continue reading “Chapter 78: Cistern and Buckets”

Chapter 77: The Great Heidelburgh Tun

This is one of the chapters that really inspired me to do this blog.

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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”

Chapter 76: The Battering-Ram

Boy I sure hope you’re ready for more whale physiology!

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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”

Chapter 75: The Right Whale’s head—Contrasted View

I bet you never could’ve guessed this chapter title. Not in a million years.

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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”

Chapter 74: The Sperm Whale’s Head—Contrasted View

Okay, this may be a little less philosophical than I remembered.

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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”

Chapter 73: Stubb & Flask Kill a Right Whale; and Then Have a Talk over Him

Man, what a chapter title.

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After so many chapters titled “The [noun]”, we get an old fashioned summary, like this is a danged penny dreadful or dime novel. Also, apparently hunting a whale is now a single-chapter affair, or half a chapter, as we’ll soon see. The real focus is on the eponymous Talk. Continue reading “Chapter 73: Stubb & Flask Kill a Right Whale; and Then Have a Talk over Him”

Chapter 72: The Monkey-Rope

Let’s keep this train rollin’.

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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”

Chapter 71: The Jeroboam’s Story

Alright, now we are back in it.

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Jeroboam sacrificing to his idol, oil on canvas by Claes Corneliszoon Moeyaert, 1641

Today’s chapter is a lengthy one, featuring the tale of another whaling ship that the Pequod comes across on that vast, wild plain of the Pacific Ocean. They hear the story of this ship, another wild tale that happens to be incredibly relevant to their own quest. Let’s listen in, shall we? Continue reading “Chapter 71: The Jeroboam’s Story”

Chapter 70: The Sphynx

See? I said I would start posting more regularly, and here I am at it again, less than a week later.

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This chapter is a fun one, kind of a bridge between narrative and non-narrative. You get a bit of everything, including a return to Ahab being extremely portentous all the time. Let’s get into it! Continue reading “Chapter 70: The Sphynx”