Chapter 51: The Spirit-Spout

Now that we’ve formally begun hunting whales and been introduced to Ahab’s secret whaling crew, it’s time to get a move on, physically and narratively.

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For once, the passage of time and tide will not be marked merely by a descent into endless pontification on the nature of whales and whaling or whatever philosophical nonsense Ishmael has decided to linger on for far too many pages. No, we get a proper bit of narrative to connect things together here. Continue reading “Chapter 51: The Spirit-Spout”

Chapter 42: The Whiteness of the Whale

Now that I’ve gotten a bit philosophical, it’s Ishmael’s turn.

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What’s fun, at least to me, about this book is that it takes its own turn at explaining the symbolism and themes. You get a sort of inside perspective on things. I can see why it would be attractive to teachers who want to impart these concepts, but the language is just too challenging for it to really work. A book that is about symbols is going to end up being too convoluted to analyze at a high school level. Continue reading “Chapter 42: The Whiteness of the Whale”

Chapter 36: The Quarter-Deck

Hoo boy, this is a big one. Not in terms of length, it doesn’t compare to Cetology, but in terms of importance and… depth of meaning?

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This is one of the most famous scenes in the book. If you know two scenes, it’s probably the ending and this one. Ahab is gonna play his hand, give a big speech, and reveal his innermost secrets. Not all of his secrets, mind you, just the deepest ones. Continue reading “Chapter 36: The Quarter-Deck”

Chapter 35: The Mast-Head

Sorry for the break in updates there, I had a very busy week and then a cold. Still just barely getting over the later, but I had an urge to do some bloggin’.

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So, today’s chapter returns us squarely to non-narrative status, with what amounts to a bunch of whaling trivia, at first glance. It is, in fact, very revealing about the character of both young and old Ishmael. It’s one of the more evocative chapters, getting us back to some of that fun prose we had very early on. Continue reading “Chapter 35: The Mast-Head”

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 22: Merry Christmas

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.

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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”

Chapter 20: All Astir

Today’s chapter is pretty short and breezy, but still does some important work. As we approach the fateful voyage of the Pequod, the omens and portents of its ruin are gathering thick in the air.

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But, there are still the final preparations to make. So many little things must be taken care of. The ship will be away from land for three whole years, so they must plan for every eventuality. Continue reading “Chapter 20: All Astir”

Chapter 14: Nantucket

Ah! That new blog smell, never does get old, does it. Yesterday, I spent my afternoon moving everything over here from tumblr, at least those things that were worth moving. The thousands upon thousands of reblogs will have to stay put upon that sinking ship of a website.

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So, let us get right back to it, with a very fun non-narrative chapter of Moby-Dick; or, the Whale!

Continue reading “Chapter 14: Nantucket”