Chapter 84: Pitchpoling

Ah, after a couple of chapters of non-narrative philosophizing, we get back to a bit of whale hunting.

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This one is kind of tricky, I’m not sure if I’m really going to be able to wring a lot of philosophical meaning out of it, but there is a mystery to be solved. Namely: what the heck is pitchpoling, actually? Let’s get into it. Continue reading “Chapter 84: Pitchpoling”

Chapter 83: Jonah Historically Regarded

Man, sometimes this book is just fun to read.

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There are many chapters that are a slog, a real downright trudge through sentences chock-a-block with antiquated vocabulary, but others? A real joy to sit down and digest after a long week in this, the longest year of my life. Let’s get into it! Continue reading “Chapter 83: Jonah Historically Regarded”

Chapter 82: The Honor and Glory of Whaling

You’ll never guess what this chapter is about!

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Ah, sometimes this book can get a bit repetitive. But it can be hard to tell if that’s the book’s fault, or mine for reading it so many times. I would say that Moby Dick is a kind of… mixed masterpiece. It is not a sort of perfect clockwork thing, where every spring and cog fits together in some flawless and immaculate design. No, it’s more of a great pile of ideas, rudely shaped into something transcendent. Here is another piece, for your perusal. Continue reading “Chapter 82: The Honor and Glory of Whaling”

Chapter 81: The Pequod Meets The Virgin

Enough of this reflection and philosophizing, it’s time for more action!

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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”

Chapter 80: The Nut

The jokes, they write themselves.

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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”

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”