Chapter 34: The Cabin-Table

Ah, and here we pull back a bit from grand philosophy and sociology.

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This chapter touches merely on the domestic arrangements of the Pequod, in particular the culinary. Also, it’s just more of a fun read, and less of a confusing slog. Compared to the last chapter, this one will zip right by in a flash. Continue reading “Chapter 34: The Cabin-Table”

Chapter 27: Knights and Squires

Here we are again, taking a second crack at introducing the rest of the principal characters on this voyage. Now that Old Ishmael has had his feelings about the faults of courageous men, we get on with it.

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I didn’t even notice that these chapter have the same title until this reading. Just goes to show how little you can pay attention to a book when you’re just trying to make progress. Continue reading “Chapter 27: Knights and Squires”

Chapter 22: Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas! Boy, the timing on this one sure didn’t work out. Yes, as it turns out, the Pequod launches on Christmas day of… some… unknown year? I could just go grab the same date as the launching of the Essex, the real, actual whaling ship that was sunk by a sperm whale, and say “ah yes, clearly this is Ishmael recounting his voyage on that famous boat through the Medium of Fiction” or some such thing.

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But, as it happens, the sinking of the Essex is mentioned in this book, by Ishmael, as proof that it is in fact possible for a whaling ship to be sunk by a whale. Ah, but I’m getting ahead of myself, that’s not for a while, I don’t think. Let’s get into today’s chapter. Continue reading “Chapter 22: Merry Christmas”

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 20: All Astir

Today’s chapter is pretty short and breezy, but still does some important work. As we approach the fateful voyage of the Pequod, the omens and portents of its ruin are gathering thick in the air.

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But, there are still the final preparations to make. So many little things must be taken care of. The ship will be away from land for three whole years, so they must plan for every eventuality. Continue reading “Chapter 20: All Astir”

Chapter 19: The Prophet

Today we’re going to take a look at… The Future! Or, at least, those who claim to have knowledge of the future, and those who really do, in some sense.

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This chapter is another fun one. Some good dialogue, and some more legend-building for the mysterious captain of the Pequod. It’s funny, there isn’t actually very much dialogue in Moby Dick, but what is there shows that Melville is very skilled at writing it. Goes to show that this book is odd not because he’s covering up for his faults, but because he’s trying something new. Continue reading “Chapter 19: The Prophet”

Chapter 18: His Mark

Now that Queequeg’s religious obligations have been dealt with, we can get back to the business at hand: going on a whaling voyage! Or at least preparing for one.

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This is a nice little chapter, we get some more of Peleg and Bildad, and see the contrast of how they treat Ishmael and his bosom pal. We’ve got some real forward narrative momentum at this point, I don’t think there’s another fully non-narrative chapter until they’re off on the voyage proper. Continue reading “Chapter 18: His Mark”

Chapter 17: The Ramadan

Ahhh, back from another sojourn taking care of another dog. Feeling refreshed and restored! Well, after a few extra days of rest, that dog really kept me busy.

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I actually took the notes for this chapter before my sabbatical of canine stewardship, so I had plenty of time to reflect and ruminate on this chapter. There isn’t a lot of direct philosophical meat, but it definitely suggests some topics that are of interest to me, and, I hope, to you as well. Continue reading “Chapter 17: The Ramadan”

Chapter 16: The Ship

Well, I’ve got my work cut out for me today. This recent run of chapters has been easy, I even had to go off on a wild tangent of my own to find any substance in the last one. But this one? There’s just… there’s a lot. There’s a lot in sheer number of words, in different tones, themes, and just in moving parts, compared to other chapters, in general.

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So, this’ll probably be a long one. Be forewarned! Continue reading “Chapter 16: The Ship”

Chapter 15: Chowder

Today we’ve got another fun chapter on our hands, but one that moves the plot a bit more. Ishmael and Queequeg have to get themselves situated on Nantucket, so they can look around and find a ship to ship with.

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Sorry I’m a little late this week, I was off dogsitting again. It’s nice to take a bit of time away from the old computer desk every now and then. But let us get on with it! Continue reading “Chapter 15: Chowder”