Chapter 87: The Grand Armada

We’re finally out of the non-narrative chapters! Enough about whale anatomy, lets get back to story, shall we? Or, at any rate, some interesting disconnected incidents which the Pequod had while sailing about the ocean.

This one is pretty lengthy, and pretty thrilling. It’s one that never makes it into the filmed adaptations, which is a shame because it’s so very dramatic. Then again, there hasn’t been one since the advent of CG, you could really do it justice now. Of course, Moby Dick is probably unfilmable, or would require more of a broad TV approach to really do justice.

Continue reading “Chapter 87: The Grand Armada”

Chapter 86: The Tail

Ahhhhh, good to be back. And today, Ishmael has graced us with a fascinating chapter, with plenty of huge, sinewy subject matter to sink our teeth into.

A photo of a playground with a statue of a whale's tail
Whale tail park, Alki

Yes, this chapter is another one describing the anatomy of the whale, but there are some, uh, very interesting tangents, shall we say. Perhaps a bit revealing of our old friend Ishmael? Who could say, I can only speculate.

Summary

Continue reading “Chapter 86: The Tail”

Chapter 85: The Fountain

Alright, back into the weeds we go.

A still from the 2006 film The Fountain, unrelated to this post
Not that The Fountain

This week’s chapter is, as they say, a doozy. Not that it is especially long, but it is dense, and comes to a surprising conclusion at the end. We’re back to pure non-narrative stuff, pontification on the nature of whales, in this case a specific part of their biology: the breath. This one requires a bit of cutting through the underbrush of 19th century vocabulary, but if you can manage that, it’s quite fun. Continue reading “Chapter 85: The Fountain”

Chapter 69: The Funeral

Nice.

funeral3

Okay, now that that’s out of the way, we can get back to business. I’ve been a bit busy lately: going to school, being overwhelmed by the horrors of the world, fearing for the safety of my city and my friends abroad, making a new website for myself. All very pressing business, I assure you. Continue reading “Chapter 69: The Funeral”

Chapter 67: Cutting In

What do you even do with a whale, once you’ve killed it?

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Much has been said about what a monumental foe the sperm whale is, in this book thus far. So vast and terrible in its strength, such a rare thing to even see one, much less successfully kill it. After all that is accomplished, what do you do? How on earth does an old timey sailing ship accommodate such a massive carcasse? Well, that’s what today’s chapter, and the several following chapters, are about, so settle in! It’s gonna get gross. Continue reading “Chapter 67: Cutting In”

Chapter 66: The Shark Massacre

I know what the title sounds like, but this is not that kind of shark massacre. Quite the opposite, in fact.

sharks1

This is another nice little short chapter, only a few pages in my edition, but very memorable. One of those nice little facts about whaling that you will carry around in your head forever afterwards, ready to spring it in the middle of a conversation if it somehow happens to come up. Moby Dick is full of such gems, and they tend to crop up in non-narrative chapters like this. Continue reading “Chapter 66: The Shark Massacre”

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.

supper1

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 63: The Crotch

Okay, okay, stop giggling. You know it doesn’t mean that kind of crotch.

crotch1

This chapter is another little tiny one, a calm before the storm, so to speak. It’s funny, all around this first real whale hunt, Ishmael has been having these little side-notes informing us about necessary bits and pieces of whaling procedure. And yet, even with all this, the actual moments of whaling feel a bit obscure. It’s such an incredibly complicated and unique procedure, it’s difficult to put all the pieces together. Continue reading “Chapter 63: The Crotch”

Chapter 58: Brit

Enough ruminations about various depictions of whales! Let’s just all agree that true life experiences are very difficult to convey and that the skill of it belongs only to the great masters of craft among us.

brit1

Today, we’re talking about a much smaller subject: brit, that food that whales crave. Not the whales that Ahab and co. are actually hunting, but the right whale and some other kinds of whale that do not produce enough or the right kind of oil to be noticed. Continue reading “Chapter 58: Brit”

Chapter 57: Of Whales in Paint; in Teeth; in Wood; in Sheet-Iron; in Stone; in Mountains; in the Stars

You thought chapter titles couldn’t get any longer? You fool. You absolute buffoon. Melville has no sympathy, and is following no rulebook.

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This chapter is kind of a transition into a different mood from the previous two. Instead of a critical survey of art from the learned eye of an expert, it’s of Ishmael as a man reflecting on the nature of art and the world it inhabits. So yeah, I think I can find something to talk about here. Continue reading “Chapter 57: Of Whales in Paint; in Teeth; in Wood; in Sheet-Iron; in Stone; in Mountains; in the Stars”