Ah, after a couple of chapters of non-narrative philosophizing, we get back to a bit of whale hunting.
This one is kind of tricky, I’m not sure if I’m really going to be able to wring a lot of philosophical meaning out of it, but there is a mystery to be solved. Namely: what the heck is pitchpoling, actually? Let’s get into it. Continue reading “Chapter 84: Pitchpoling”
You’ll never guess what this chapter is about!
Ah, sometimes this book can get a bit repetitive. But it can be hard to tell if that’s the book’s fault, or mine for reading it so many times. I would say that Moby Dick is a kind of… mixed masterpiece. It is not a sort of perfect clockwork thing, where every spring and cog fits together in some flawless and immaculate design. No, it’s more of a great pile of ideas, rudely shaped into something transcendent. Here is another piece, for your perusal. Continue reading “Chapter 82: The Honor and Glory of Whaling”
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”
This is one of the chapters that really inspired me to do this blog.
The casual reader of Moby Dick, which I must assume exists because I was one, would come across this and be utterly confused. What the heck is a Heidelburgh Tun, and why is it being talked about like it’s some sort of famous reference that everyone knows? It’s a question that cries out for answering. This is the one that really got me started in on researching all these obscure 19th century references. Continue reading “Chapter 77: The Great Heidelburgh Tun”
I bet you never could’ve guessed this chapter title. Not in a million years.
In this chapter, we learn a bit more about the other whale, the one the southern whalers usually spurn, at least these days. And by “these days” I of course mean the 1840s, when this book was written. Nowadays, nobody is out hunting whales, except the Makah of the Washington coast, and the Japanese, probably. Continue reading “Chapter 75: The Right Whale’s head—Contrasted View”
Let’s keep this train rollin’.
Today’s chapter is back in more grounded territory, after the high-minded philosophy of the last few. Just some good ol’ fashioned whale butchering shenanigans with Ishmael and Queequeg. Remember them? The ostensible deuteragonists of this book? They’re back! Continue reading “Chapter 72: The Monkey-Rope”
I hope you are all weathering these quarantine times well, shipmates.
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”
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”