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 84: Pitchpoling

Ah, after a couple of chapters of non-narrative philosophizing, we get back to a bit of whale hunting.

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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”

Chapter 82: The Honor and Glory of Whaling

You’ll never guess what this chapter is about!

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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”

Chapter 78: Cistern and Buckets

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”

Chapter 77: The Great Heidelburgh Tun

This is one of the chapters that really inspired me to do this blog.

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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”

Chapter 75: The Right Whale’s head—Contrasted View

I bet you never could’ve guessed this chapter title. Not in a million years.

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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”

Chapter 72: The Monkey-Rope

Let’s keep this train rollin’.

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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”

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 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.

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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”