Yes, I’m catching up on stuff I’ve been reading over the summer. This is the most recent book I’ve finished, actually, so it’s a bit more fresh in my mind than the Pelican Brief. This time, the book is one I’ve read before, thought it was a very long time ago, when I was but a small child. My dad used to read books to me and my brother, and Redwall and Mossflower were among them. I read a few of the later entries in the series on my own, but soon fell off, replacing it with Discworld in my heart.
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.
Now, for a short bit of of professional criticism.
Not from me, mind you, but from one Ishmael, who has noticed a few problems with how this whole whaling operation is being run. Like all insider suggestions, born of hard experience, it is very specific and points to something I noticed before, which was probably just me remembering this specific chapter and blurting it out like it was my idea.
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!