Chapter 56: Of the Less Erroneous Pictures of Whales, and the True Pictures of Whaling Scenes

So, now that we’ve heard all about (and seen, thanks to the magic of the internet) some truly awful pictures of whales, it’s time for the good ones!

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Beale

Or, barring that, at least the ones that are acceptable, at a base level. Even the finest artists do not quite live up to the reality of the sperm whale, if Ishmael is to be believed. Continue reading “Chapter 56: Of the Less Erroneous Pictures of Whales, and the True Pictures of Whaling Scenes”

Chapter 55: Of the Monstrous Pictures of Whales

And now, for something completely different.

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A Richard III Whale

After that incredibly long and detailed short story, that microcosm for the book as a whole encapsulated in a single chapter, it’s time for a good ol’ fashioned non-narrative chapter where Ishmael yells at clouds. Or, rather, yells at artists for not knowing what whales look like. Continue reading “Chapter 55: Of the Monstrous Pictures of Whales”

Chapter 54: The Town-Ho’s Story

Uff dah fee tah. This chapter… this chapter is a trial.

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I’ve tried to write this post like three times now, and I keep getting way too far out in the weeds, just trying to, like, summarize what even happens. There’s just way too much. If you want the full story, you gotta read it yourself, I’m sorry. This is gonna be more of a… loose reflections kind of post. Continue reading “Chapter 54: The Town-Ho’s Story”

Chapter 53: The Gam

Okay, I misremembered the sequence of events just a bit. There is no actual gam in this chapter, in fact there are no events at all! It’s another non-narrative chapter, turns out.

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There’s a whoooooole Thing about the various gams the Pequod has over the course of its fatal voyage. The names of the various ships and captains, the condition of the crews, the stories they have to tell, and so on. It is rich with symbolic meaning, but it is not yet time to really plunge into those particular deep, dark waters. Continue reading “Chapter 53: The Gam”

Chapter 52: The Albatross

Okay, so this chapter isn’t technically the one with the first game, that would be chapter 53, titled: The Gam. But it is the first time the Pequod meets another whaling ship, so I think it technically counts.

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Oh, by the bye, “gam” is a term used for a meeting between whaling ships on the open ocean. This is explained in the next chapter, but I figured I ought to get out ahead of that so you’ll know what the heck I’m talking about. Continue reading “Chapter 52: The Albatross”

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 50: Ahab’s Boat and Crew. Fedallah.

Ahhh, I had a nice vacation, of sorts. Really, I was just dog- and housesitting, I never got much further than a mile from my house, but I was away from my computer, and thus could not continue this blog. But it’s good to be back! And for a nice big, round number, no less.

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This chapter is a good one. I actually took notes on it before my vacation, and to dig them out again to refresh my memory. As you’d guess, it’s dealing with some of the fallout from the revelation of Ahab’s secret stowaway crew and personal whaling boat, as well as digging into some themes that I’ve really been ruminating on over my summer break. Continue reading “Chapter 50: Ahab’s Boat and Crew. Fedallah.”

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 45: The Affidavit

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.

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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”