Chapter 52: The Albatross

Okay, so this chapter isn’t technically the one with the first game, that would be chapter 53, titled: The Gam. But it is the first time the Pequod meets another whaling ship, so I think it technically counts.

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Oh, by the bye, “gam” is a term used for a meeting between whaling ships on the open ocean. This is explained in the next chapter, but I figured I ought to get out ahead of that so you’ll know what the heck I’m talking about. Continue reading “Chapter 52: The Albatross”

Chapter 51: The Spirit-Spout

Now that we’ve formally begun hunting whales and been introduced to Ahab’s secret whaling crew, it’s time to get a move on, physically and narratively.

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For once, the passage of time and tide will not be marked merely by a descent into endless pontification on the nature of whales and whaling or whatever philosophical nonsense Ishmael has decided to linger on for far too many pages. No, we get a proper bit of narrative to connect things together here. Continue reading “Chapter 51: The Spirit-Spout”

Chapter 50: Ahab’s Boat and Crew. Fedallah.

Ahhh, I had a nice vacation, of sorts. Really, I was just dog- and housesitting, I never got much further than a mile from my house, but I was away from my computer, and thus could not continue this blog. But it’s good to be back! And for a nice big, round number, no less.

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This chapter is a good one. I actually took notes on it before my vacation, and to dig them out again to refresh my memory. As you’d guess, it’s dealing with some of the fallout from the revelation of Ahab’s secret stowaway crew and personal whaling boat, as well as digging into some themes that I’ve really been ruminating on over my summer break. Continue reading “Chapter 50: Ahab’s Boat and Crew. Fedallah.”

Chapter 49: The Hyena

Today we’ve got another nice little short chapter, to bookend the lengthy one from last time.

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We’re going to zoom in on Ishmael, which is something that’s been more and more rare since the launch of the final voyage of the Pequod. Early on, he was the focus of every chapter, our point of view into this new world of whaling, but in the grand scheme of the story being told, he’s not particularly relevant. Continue reading “Chapter 49: The Hyena”

Chapter 47: The Mat-Maker

Ah, what a perfect time of year to read this chapter, in particular.

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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”

Chapter 46: Surmises

Now that we are properly grounded in the fictional reality of this book, we can get to the business at hand: psychoanalyzing Ahab!

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Haha no not really, psychoanalysis wouldn’t be invented for like 70 years after this book was written. But we are getting more insight into his internal processes. Or, at any rate, some educated guesses about it. Continue reading “Chapter 46: Surmises”

Chapter 45: The Affidavit

Okay, let’s get back into it with a nice, meaty chapter. We’re getting into some interesting metatexutal territory here, blurring the line between Melville and Ishmael.

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Technically, I think this whole thing is just more of Old Ishmael, based on the general tone and tendency towards exhortation and exclamation. But it’s also very much a bibliography slipped into the text itself, and I must say it’s more pleasant to read than the ones you usually see!

Continue reading “Chapter 45: The Affidavit”

Some Dark and Heavy Summer Reading

Every summer, I turn my eye to old Victorian-era literature. Basically anything from like the 19th or early 20th centuries.

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In the past, I’ve read basically every book by Wilkie Collins, J. Sheridan le Fanu, Bram Stoker, the Brontes, and a smattering of other novels from other authors of the period. A couple years ago, I tried to read Les Miserables, but couldn’t get into it, though I did enjoy Toilers of the Sea, also by Victor Hugo. Continue reading “Some Dark and Heavy Summer Reading”

Chapter 36: The Quarter-Deck

Hoo boy, this is a big one. Not in terms of length, it doesn’t compare to Cetology, but in terms of importance and… depth of meaning?

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This is one of the most famous scenes in the book. If you know two scenes, it’s probably the ending and this one. Ahab is gonna play his hand, give a big speech, and reveal his innermost secrets. Not all of his secrets, mind you, just the deepest ones. Continue reading “Chapter 36: The Quarter-Deck”

Chapter 33: The Specksnyder

So, now that we’ve gotten past that monumental chapter about every kind of whale that exists, it should be smooth sailing, right?

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Well, maybe not. This chapter can be challenging in a different way. It uses a lot of winks and nods and glancing references. It’s very easy to, as I did the first time, just sort of let your eyes scan over the page and not take much in from it. Continue reading “Chapter 33: The Specksnyder”