Ahhhhh, good to be back. And today, Ishmael has graced us with a fascinating chapter, with plenty of huge, sinewy subject matter to sink our teeth into.
Yes, this chapter is another one describing the anatomy of the whale, but there are some, uh, very interesting tangents, shall we say. Perhaps a bit revealing of our old friend Ishmael? Who could say, I can only speculate.
This week’s chapter is, as they say, a doozy. Not that it is especially long, but it is dense, and comes to a surprising conclusion at the end. We’re back to pure non-narrative stuff, pontification on the nature of whales, in this case a specific part of their biology: the breath. This one requires a bit of cutting through the underbrush of 19th century vocabulary, but if you can manage that, it’s quite fun. Continue reading “Chapter 85: The Fountain”→
Now that the choking, toxic smoke in the air of Seattle has been replaced with the more traditional water, I find myself in a writerly mood once again. And a readerly one, I suppose. A torrential downpour outside does tend to push one towards cozier pastimes, I find. Continue reading “Chapter 80: The Nut”→
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.
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”→
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”→
See? I said I would start posting more regularly, and here I am at it again, less than a week later.
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”→