Chapter 49: The Hyena

Today we’ve got another nice little short chapter, to bookend the lengthy one from last time.

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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”

Chapter 46: Surmises

Now that we are properly grounded in the fictional reality of this book, we can get to the business at hand: psychoanalyzing Ahab!

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Haha no not really, psychoanalysis wouldn’t be invented for like 70 years after this book was written. But we are getting more insight into his internal processes. Or, at any rate, some educated guesses about it. Continue reading “Chapter 46: Surmises”

Chapter 44: The Chart

Now that we’ve got all the finnicky business of epistemological impossibility out of the way, we have some more practical matters to worry about: how do you find a whale?

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You can sit around thinking and wondering all day, but you’re not gonna get anywhere unless you take action, and Ahab is our man of action in this story. While Ishmael lays and ruminates in his favorite perch among the rigging, Ahab is busy far below. Continue reading “Chapter 44: The Chart”

Some Dark and Heavy Summer Reading

Every summer, I turn my eye to old Victorian-era literature. Basically anything from like the 19th or early 20th centuries.

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In the past, I’ve read basically every book by Wilkie Collins, J. Sheridan le Fanu, Bram Stoker, the Brontes, and a smattering of other novels from other authors of the period. A couple years ago, I tried to read Les Miserables, but couldn’t get into it, though I did enjoy Toilers of the Sea, also by Victor Hugo. Continue reading “Some Dark and Heavy Summer Reading”

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 25: Postscript

Another tiny little chapter today. As the title suggests, really more of a postscript to the previous chapter, one little last-minute addition.

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Surely there can’t be much to say about this, can there? This tiny half-formed thought doesn’t touch on any great themes like the Lee Shore did. Ohoho, we shall just have to find out! Continue reading “Chapter 25: Postscript”

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 21: Going Aboard

It’s time! Time to get in a boat and go hunt some actual, factual, living whales.

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Well, it’s not quite time for the hunting part yet, but it is time for this most famous of American maritime novels to actually get to the part where they’re on the ocean. Technically, they’ve already been there, it’s hard to avoid when you’re going to Nantucket, but you know what I mean! The whaling voyage! It’s… well, it’s time to go aboard, as the title says. Let’s get into it.

Continue reading “Chapter 21: Going Aboard”

Chapter 12: Biographical

With this chapter, we briefly move back into one of Melville’s more comfortable, more popular subjects: The south seas, which is to say the islands of the southern Pacific ocean.

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As I mentioned before, this chapter isn’t an exact transcript of what Queequeg told Ishmael that night, but rather a sort of reconstructed narrative based on that, information later gleaned from Queequeg, and from other miscellaneous individuals who knew of the story. Continue reading “Chapter 12: Biographical”