Hoo boy, this is a big one.
I’ve really got my work cut out for me this time ’round. This is a very important and fascinating chapter, and has been the subject of a lot of study and discussion over the years. It’s not hard to see why, there’s obviously a lot going on here, and I will do my level best to untangle it, and perhaps offer a bit of my own commentary on top of all the others.
Continue reading “Chapter 99: The Doubloon” →
Enough of this reflection and philosophizing, it’s time for more action!
I do wonder if Melville was a bit self-conscious in writing this book, aware that he was a bit too heavy on the high-minded discourse, when his audience was expecting more of a rollicking action-adventure yarn. After all, his most successful previous books, Typee and Omoo were more in that vein. Thus, the sudden shift in tone here, to a good ol’ fashioned whale hunt. Continue reading “Chapter 81: The Pequod Meets The Virgin” →
Man, what a chapter title.
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” →
Today we’ve got another nice little short chapter, to bookend the lengthy one from last time.
We’re going to zoom in on Ishmael, which is something that’s been more and more rare since the launch of the final voyage of the Pequod. Early on, he was the focus of every chapter, our point of view into this new world of whaling, but in the grand scheme of the story being told, he’s not particularly relevant. Continue reading “Chapter 49: The Hyena” →
Here we go! Time to go kill a god damned sea monster!
Or, make an attempt, at any rate. It’s really a very difficult thing, taking down such a large and powerful creature. Of course, we humans have made our bones on taking down things much larger and more powerful than ourselves. Perhaps the whale itself is not always the biggest obstacle, though. Continue reading “Chapter 48: The First Lowering” →
Ah, and here we pull back a bit from grand philosophy and sociology.
This chapter touches merely on the domestic arrangements of the Pequod, in particular the culinary. Also, it’s just more of a fun read, and less of a confusing slog. Compared to the last chapter, this one will zip right by in a flash. Continue reading “Chapter 34: The Cabin-Table” →
Who doesn’t love a good description of somebody else’s dream? What’s that? Everyone? Everyone doesn’t love that?
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” →
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.
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” →
Merry Christmas! Boy, the timing on this one sure didn’t work out. Yes, as it turns out, the Pequod launches on Christmas day of… some… unknown year? I could just go grab the same date as the launching of the Essex, the real, actual whaling ship that was sunk by a sperm whale, and say “ah yes, clearly this is Ishmael recounting his voyage on that famous boat through the Medium of Fiction” or some such thing.
But, as it happens, the sinking of the Essex is mentioned in this book, by Ishmael, as proof that it is in fact possible for a whaling ship to be sunk by a whale. Ah, but I’m getting ahead of myself, that’s not for a while, I don’t think. Let’s get into today’s chapter. Continue reading “Chapter 22: Merry Christmas” →