Ah, here we go, back to action!
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.
Continue reading “Chapter 78: Cistern and Buckets”
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.
Continue reading “Chapter 62: The Dart”
You’ll never guess what happens in this chapter.
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”
Ah, what a perfect time of year to read this chapter, in particular.
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”
So, now that we’ve checked in on the officer class of the ship (minus Flask, who barely counts), it’s time to see how the rest of the crew is reacting. Since so few of them are actual, established, important characters, they don’t get whole individual chapters, not even the harpooneers.
But, what they do get is a fun format change! This chapter is written entirely in the style of a stage play. I’ve never heard of it being staged, but I wouldn’t doubt that some high school or college that was particularly arts-oriented has done it once or twice. Continue reading “Chapter 40: Midnight, Forecastle”
Ah, and here we pull back a bit from grand philosophy and sociology.
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”
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.
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”