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”→
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”→
What do you even do with a whale, once you’ve killed it?
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”→
I know what the title sounds like, but this is not that kind of shark massacre. Quite the opposite, in fact.
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”→
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.
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”→
Okay, okay, stop giggling. You know it doesn’t mean that kind of crotch.
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”→
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.
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”→
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”→