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”
Now that we are properly grounded in the fictional reality of this book, we can get to the business at hand: psychoanalyzing Ahab!
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”
Okay, let’s get back into it with a nice, meaty chapter. We’re getting into some interesting metatexutal territory here, blurring the line between Melville and Ishmael.
Technically, I think this whole thing is just more of Old Ishmael, based on the general tone and tendency towards exhortation and exclamation. But it’s also very much a bibliography slipped into the text itself, and I must say it’s more pleasant to read than the ones you usually see!
Continue reading “Chapter 45: The Affidavit”
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?
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”
Now that I’ve gotten a bit philosophical, it’s Ishmael’s turn.
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”
So, now that we know what Ahab, Starbuck, Stubb, and the crew in general think of the events of The Quarter-Deck, who could possibly be left to weight in? Is there some important character who has been neglected?
Oh yes, there is that novice whaleman, named himself after some biblical figure, obviously not his real name, what was it again? Isaiah? Ezekiel? Ishmael! That was it, let’s hear what good ol’ Ishmael has to say about all this. Continue reading “Chapter 41: Moby Dick”
So, now that we’ve gotten past that monumental chapter about every kind of whale that exists, it should be smooth sailing, right?
Well, maybe not. This chapter can be challenging in a different way. It uses a lot of winks and nods and glancing references. It’s very easy to, as I did the first time, just sort of let your eyes scan over the page and not take much in from it. Continue reading “Chapter 33: The Specksnyder”
Oh boy, this chapter.
This is a real monster. It’s very long, a bit dry, and mostly just… confusing, as to why it is even here. It is, oddly, one of the more famous ones, I feel. People love to talk about how every fact about whales in Moby Dick is wrong or how it goes wildly off topic and starts talking about pseudoscience. But I think that’s really not giving it enough credit. Continue reading “Chapter 32: Cetology”
Another tiny little chapter! I think this might be even shorter than Postscript, but it’s too close to call.
This one has a bit more weight to it, though, as it concerns the actions of one Captain Ahab, who is quite an interesting subject. But what could even one such as he get up to in four short paragraphs? Let us see. Continue reading “Chapter 30: The Pipe”
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.
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”