Chapter 68: The Blanket

I hope you are all weathering these quarantine times well, shipmates.

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As for me, things have been busy, and slow at the same times. I’ve been pulled in a million different directions, and yet feel little to no motivation to actually get things done. Thus, my attention has returned to this blog, thinking perhaps the old fashioned folksy ways of Ishmael may ignite some interest in me. And, indeed, this is a pretty fun chapter. Enough preamble, let’s get into it. Continue reading “Chapter 68: The Blanket”

Chapter 64: Stubb’s Supper

Okay, I’ve been dragging my feet with this one, but I guess I just have to bite the gamey whale steak and get it over with.

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This chapter is… difficult to talk about, as a person who likes this book and wants to convince other people to read it. As I’ve mentioned before, this is a book from pre-civil war America, so there are certain subjects that are not going to handled as, uh, delicately as you would hope, particularly anything involving black people. I’ve touched on it a couple times already, but this is where it’s really unavoidable, because we have a whole heaping helping of dialog with a black character, who is of course speaking in a dialect that Melville has painstakingly replicated in the text for our… enjoyment. Continue reading “Chapter 64: Stubb’s Supper”

Chapter 61: Stubb Kills a Whale

You’ll never guess what happens in this chapter.

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Yes, finally, at long last, we have a successful hunt for a whale! After so many false starts and missed opportunities, the crew is able to successfully do their job. This, of course, leads into a new little arc for the book, as we learn how a successfully hunted whale is processed at sea. Continue reading “Chapter 61: Stubb Kills a Whale”

Chapter 59: Squid

Since we learned about what right whales and their baleen’d cousins eat in the last chapter, let’s learn about the diet of one Moby Dick and his kin.

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Often have I heard philosophical or poetic reveries based around the idea that whales, the largest creatures on earth, subsist entirely by eating the smallest, microscopic plankton. Well, turns out that only applies to¬†some whales, not all of them. While the peaceful, calm, and pleasant right whales are perfectly happy to ply the meadows of the sea for their brit, the sperm whale desires something more exciting. They want a food that is gonna fight back. Continue reading “Chapter 59: Squid”

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 47: The Mat-Maker

Ah, what a perfect time of year to read this chapter, in particular.

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The weather has been much like that described in this chapter, lately. As it is the Pacific Northwest, we have a certain reputation to keep up with regards to sunshine and a lack thereof, but it is still very pleasant in the summer. When the temperature hovers in the low to mid 70s (fahrenheit, of course), and it gets just a little humid, it is just the most seductive and perfect weather imaginable. Continue reading “Chapter 47: The Mat-Maker”

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”

Chapter 42: The Whiteness of the Whale

Now that I’ve gotten a bit philosophical, it’s Ishmael’s turn.

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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”

Chapter 41: Moby Dick

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?

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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”