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No American masterpiece casts uite as awesome a shadow as Melville's monumental Moby Dick Mad Captain Ahab's uest for the White Whale is a timeless epic a stirring tragedy of vengeance and obsession a searing parable about humanity lost in a universe of moral ambiguity It is the greatest sea story ever told Far ahead of its own time Moby Dick was largely misunderstood and unappreciated by Melville's contemporaries Today however it is indisputably a classic As DH Lawrence wrote Moby Dick commands a stillness in the soul an awe It is one of the strangest and most wonderful books in the world


10 thoughts on “Moby Dick; or The Whale

  1. says:

    LISA Dad you can't take revenge on an animal That's the whole point of Moby DickHOMER Oh Lisa the point of Moby Dick is 'be yourself' The Simpsons Season 15 Episode 5 “The Fat and the Furriest” Ahoy Matey Thar be spoilers aheadThere there Stop your crying You didn’t like Herman Melville’s Moby Dick? You didn't even finish it? I’m here to tell you that’s okay You’re still a good person You will still be invited to Thanksgiving dinner You won’t be arrested incarcerated or exiled You will not be shunned except by English majors; they will shun you Your family and friends will still love you or at least stand you Your dog will still be loyal your cat though will remain indifferent Moby Dick can be a humbling experience Even if you get through it you may be desperately asking yourself things like “why didn’t I like this” or am I totally missing something” or how long have I been sleeping? See Moby Dick is the most famous novel in American history It might be the great American novel But in many ways it’s like 3 D movies or Mount Rush it’s tough to figure out why it’s such a big deal I suppose any discussion about Moby Dick must start with thematic considerations It is after all “classic” literature and must be experienced on multiple levels if at all So what’s the point of Moby Dick? Is it about obsession? The things that drive each of us in our ambitions whether they be wealth hate prejudice or love? Is it a deconstruction of Puritan culture in colonial America? Is it a Joseph Campbell style hero’s journey? Is it a good ol' yarn of men against the sea? Is it all of these things?PerhapsIs it a colossal bore?Decidedly Now I hate to use that word the b word Boring It means so little It means nothing It is the ultimate grade school criticism subjective; vague; and expressing annoyance at having been forced to experience the thing at all To say something is boring implies that nothing happens when in fact something is always happening Whether or not that happening is exciting is another uestion Having said all that I found Moby Dick boring in the purest sense of the word On just about every page I felt a distinct lack of interest And this is not a response to the subject matter I love sea stories I enjoyed Nathaniel Philbrick’s In the Heart of the Sea and Steven Spielberg’s adaptation of Jaws Normally a novel about an obsessed man trying to harpoon a terrifying monster would be right in my wheelhouse What was the problem? More specifically what was my problem? Because despite what I say most people are going to blame me rather than Melville It all comes down to density I’ve never actually harpooned a whale or anything for that matter but I can only assume that it is slightly easier than finishing this turgid mammoth work of literature I found it almost impenetrable Like reading Hawthorne except it doesn't end ever I tried reading it three different times and failed In a meta turn of events the novel became like my white whale elusive and cagey an arch opponent I would get through the first few chapters all right The dinner at the Spouter Inn The homo erotically charged night two men share in bed Melville’s exuisitely detailed description of his breakfast companions You could plainly tell how long each one had been ashore This young fellow’s healthy cheek is like a sun toasted pear in hue and would seem to smell almost as musky; he cannot have been three days landed from his Indian voyage That man next to him looks a few shades lighter; you might say a touch of satin wood is in him In the complexion of a third still lingers a tropic yawn but slightly bleached withal; he doubtless has tarried whole weeks ashore But who could show a cheek like ueeueg? which barred with various tints seemed like the Andes’ western slope to show forth in one array contrasting climates zone by zone Somewhere in the neighborhood of the fortieth page when Father Mapple starts to give his sermon I’d start to get a little restless A few pages into his fire and brimstone screed my mind would wander By the end of the chapter I’d realize that instead of paying attention to the text I’d actually started to amuse myself by trying to calculate my income taxes in my head And then I’d uit During one of my periodic bouts of self improvement which I regularly intersperse with bouts of day drinking I decided to finish this damn thing once and for all To do this I hit upon a plan I brought it to work and forced myself to read twenty pages a day at lunch No surfing the internet or listening to podcasts No chatting with coworkers Until I finished I would dedicate the hour to 20 pages of Melville As a result I 1 finished the book; and 2 grew to hate lunch which is really uite a sad turn of events What did I learn? Not too much Moby Dick is about a miluetoast named Ishmael who sets out on a whaling ship called the Peuod Like many literary heroes he is a bit of an outcast Also following in the tradition of Charles Dickens’ tedious first person narrators he is a bit of a cipher Ishmael doesn't do much except offer endless exegeses on every aspect of whaling as well as stultifying digressions on topics too numerous to count don’t miss the chapter about how the color white can be evil Ishmael's pedagogic ramblings will soon have you pleading for the whale – or a suid or an eel or a berserk seagull – to eat him and eat him uickly but painfully so the book will end The Peuod is commanded by Captain Ahab the one legged nut who is obsessed with finding the whale that ate his now absent limb He's sort of the 19th century version of the psycho ex boyfriend who just can't seem to let go the past Ahab is an interesting character in the abstract Profoundly almost suicidally driven The obvious progenitor of Robert Shaw’s captivating performance as uint in Spielberg’s Jaws However in the context of the book's thees and thous and utterly excessive verbiage and arcane sentence structure the sheen wears off mighty uick It’s one of those instances in which I’d much prefer someone to tell me about Ahab rather than read about him myself In other words I need an interpreter to translate from Ye Olde English to English The challenging language permeates Moby Dick Melville writes in a overly verbose grandilouent style His book is packed with symbols and metaphors and allusions and nautical terms There were very few pages in which I didn't have to stop reading and flip to the back of the book to read the explanatory notes or consult the glossary There are digressions and solilouies and even at certain points stage directions It is also a primer on whaling in case you wanted to learn The Peuod’s whale being decapitated and the body stripped the head was hoisted against the ship’s side – about half way out of the sea so that it might yet in great part be buoyed up by its native element And there with the strained craft steeply leaning over it by reason of the enormous downward drag from the lower mast head and every yard arm on that side projecting like a crane over the waves; there that blood dripping head hung to the Peuod’s waist like the giant Holofernes’s from the girdle of JudithMaybe you are familiar with the giant Holfernes and Judith’s girdle Maybe you want to be familiar with them If so by all means proceed Melville’s other notable character is ueeueg the South Seas cannibal with whom Ishmael shares a bed at the Spouter Inn a scene that has launched a thousand dissertations Ishmael’s best friend on the Peuod ueeueg expresses the duality of man outwardly a tattooed savage he is also purveyor of what might be termed Christian ethics he gets along with people; he turns the other cheek; and he’s willing to jump into the ocean to save a stranger’s life The rest of the cast is too large to get into Besides they all run together in my mind For example I can’t tell you off the top of my head whether Starbuck or Stubb was the first mate Frankly I don't really care They all end up in the same place Hint think Jonah Melville really harps on this Biblical allusion as he harps on everything None of this is to say that Moby Dick lacks any charms There are passages of great beauty For instance there is a moment when Pip the black cabin boycourt jester falls out of one of the longboats and is left in the ocean Upon being rescued Pip is changed The sea had jeeringly kept his finite body up but drowned the infinite of his soul Not drowned entirely though Rather carried down alive to wondrous depths where strange shapes of the unwarped primal world glided to and fro before his passive eyes; and the miser merman Wisdom revealed his hoarded heaps; and among the joyous heartless ever juvenile eternities Pip saw the multitudinous God omnipresent coral insects that out of the firmament of waters heaved the colossal orbs He saw God's foot upon the treadle of the loom and spoke it; and therefore his shipmate's called him mad I’m not going to lie and say I have the slightest idea of what that all means but it sure is pretty I suppose that was part of the allure that Moby Dick held for me Even though I often wanted to uit every once in awhile a passage would jump out at me and smack me across the face with its classicalness Unfortunately you have to wade through so much the mind becomes numb Moby Dick is uite simply a slog It is tedious Detail laden Attention demanding Then after 56 billion pages the climax comes in an instant and in a matter of a few pages everything you learned about the ship the knots that held the sails the crewmembers Ahab – everything – is for naught because it's all gone and the sea rolls on as it has for a thousand years In a way it's kind of cool to do it that way; I mean that's life You don't always get a great death scene But on the other hand what a gypI realize my tone is preemptively defensive After all I consider myself a high functioning individual Like you I assume I don’t like being told “You just don’t get it” Oh no I get it At least I tried very hard to get it I just didn't like it And I’ll admit I didn't like having to try so hard This complaint is not simply a function of having my brain rotted by soda pop candy and first person shooter video games Rather there is an important argument to be made for clarity Some say Melville’s stylized prose is elegant; I think it’s tortured Some find his allusions illuminating; I find them hopelessly outdated Some discover a higher pleasure in unpacking each complex theme; I just wanted to push Ishmael over the gunwale or hang him from the yardarm Melville can gussy things up as much as he wants He can toss off references to 19th century prizefighters Schiller’s poetry and the Bible; he can discourse on civilization and savagery on man and God; he can teach you every knot needed to sail a whaler; and he can draw out enough metaphors to keep SparksNotes in business for the next hundred years Melville can do all these things but he can’t hide the fact that this is a story about some guys going fishing That’s it That simple story is the vessel for Melville’s explorations Upon this he heaps his complications Whether Melville’s techniue is effective or not or whether Melville has convinced you that it’s effective is an open uestion Well not to me I think I’ve answered the uestion In short I would rather be harpooned fall off my ship get eaten by a great white shark and then have the great white shark swallowed by a whale then read this book ever again I can’t get any clearer than that


  2. says:

    “Where the White Whale yo?”Ah my first DBR And possibly my last as this could be a complete shit show Approaching a review of Moby Dick in a state of sobriety just wasn’t cutting it though So let’s raise our glasses to Option B yeah?I fucking love this book It took me eight hundred years to read it but it was so so worth it Melville’s writing is impeccable The parallels he draws even when he’s seemingly pulling them out of his ass which I swear to God he’s doing because who can find this many parallels to draw when talking about a whale are just perfect He can compare any and every aspect of the whale—did you know this whole book is about a whale?—to the human condition And he does so in a way that is humorous and poetic It is pretty remarkable I tell youSo here’s the thing I had zero interest in whales before starting this book But holy hell if I haven’t been googling the crap out of them lately I mean it’s the mark of a superior writer isn’t it? to command one’s attention—not just to hold it but to carry it forth hither and thither—for seven hundred pages of a book about a whale It’s impressive really when you think about it And yet this book suffers a severe level of under appreciation on TEH GOODREADS It has an average rating of 333 which is extraordinarily dismal by this website’s standards and with almost a uarter million ratings so far it is unlikely to migrate much from that figure So in an attempt to understand what it is people hate about this book I filtered the community reviews to show 1 star results and here is what I’ve discovered• This book would have been great admits Anulka if it weren’t for that darn tootin’ whale interfering with the story• The language is too much for Gil Michelini who believes words have their place after all we are not heathens but they simply do not belong in this novel• Marlan’s complaint is that there is too great a lack of story here so much so that it feels crammed in It’s like trying to sueeze a cookie into a breadbox• Some have experienced extreme aversions to this book It has made Colleen seasick uite frankly; it has totally messed up Edwin’s mind; and it has made Robert want to light himself on fire Even Liz has acknowledged a preference for drowning if such an option existed as a substitute for reading Moby Dick• Tracy Dunning would recommend renting the cartoon version which far surpasses the actual text in storytelling capability• Still others have been befuddled by this novel’s ability to hoodwink its readers into thinking they like it when in fact they don’t a bizarre phenomenon Esther Hansen can personally attest to• Finally Keya offers a sobering perspective which is that people are only reading this book to read it meaning that if they weren’t reading it then it would simply be a book not being read Truly Yogi Berra couldn’t have put it better himselfBut Keya does bring up an interesting point here why doesn’t Ahab just “get over it” and live his life? I mean should that be so hard? In some sense the White Whale is nothing than a stand in for everything that has gone wrong in Ahab’s life He mounts this campaign against the stand in but isn’t that sort of disingenuous? After all it’s not the whale that’s responsible for his miserable life Ahab claims to be an instrument of fate but fate in this case seems nothing than a self fulfilling prophecyOh fuck my fingers hurt from the backspaceLook here’s the bottom line I was afraid this book would be long and boring And now I wonder how many people hesitate reading it because of its bad rap Well I’m here to tell you Potential Reader this book might be long but it is by no means boring Therefore it is long and exciting? TWSS? I implore you to ignore the negative reviews Melville has a talent for flowing humorous prose and there is so much of it here to enjoySo go find your White WhalePS Gin rules


  3. says:

    I re read Moby Dick following my research trips to the whaling museums of New Bedford and Nantucket whaling museums The particular edition I read from University of California Press is HIGHLY recommended as the typeface is extremely agreeable to the eyes and the illustrations are subtle and instructive without ever interfering or drawing attention away from the story Perhaps that’s where the latent interest grew deep in my soul as regards the whaling museums and since life offered me recently the opportunity to see and enjoy both I grabbed at the chance and am so glad to have done so This reading of Melville is so much interesting having now a lot background on the various factors social economic and physical that informed the writing and structure of the storyMany modern readers have been turned off of the unabridged Moby Dick due to the many chapters of background information that Ishmael feels compelled to pass us about whales and whaling I can understand that some folks want to get on with the story and don’t want to have all this detail Personally the whole book seems so much real to me now When I try to imagine the life of the 21 28 people on a 3 5 year whaling mission with a back breaking job punctuated with long periods of boredom and intense periods of turmoil whether from ocean storms or from the hunt and ensuing processing of blubber I can appreciate how the story moves at its own pace and during those long hours at sea while the sailors are working on their scrimshaw or scanning the horizon for spouts that Ishmael is in his cabin writing all this detail down about this job that he is so incredibly proud of If you remove this description it removes much of the texture of the book and reduces it to an adventure story rather than a universal chez d’oeuvreSeveral moments merit mention Father Mapples’ sermon on Jonah Chapter 9 which sets the tone for most of the book the speech of Ahab in recruiting his crew into his diabolical mission against Moby Dick Chapter 36 and the heart breaking acuiescence of Starbuck and my favorite part so far The Grand Armada Chapter 89 The description of the whale nursery with the mothers and children looking up through the water at their hunters was spectacular writing and makes one dream of being out there in one of those flimsy boats to see itThe writing is by turns ironic serious violent and tender On one hand is the famous Shark Massacre Chapter 66 where Melville weaves in an image of the sharks actually eating themselves in their frenzy – amazing realism and exceedingly violent On the other hand the cleverness of Stubb as he manages to steal the sick whale with the ambergris away from the hapless French captain of the Rose Bud Chapter 91 was hilarious and I laughed out loud Even the seemingly dry description chapters often have some high degree of tongue in cheek such as the suggestion that the Kings and ueens were all coronated in whale oil Chapter 25 All of these add a certain uniue texture to Moby Dick and seem to me indispensable to the overall majesty of the bookIt was a breathless ending as one would expect but there was also a feeling of anti climax I think that despite the excitement of the chase and the apocalyptic ending I enjoyed the build up of the suspense all during the book to the end There was a bit of sentimentality towards the end that was not really present during the rest of the textalmost as if Melville was impatient to get to the end to get the end of Ahab out of his system or something And the whirlpool that swallows everything but Ishmael is a bit supernatural which shocks after having such vivid realism for the previous 550 pages It was also strange that after occupying such a central and tender role for Ishmael through the first 100 200 pages of the book ueeueg just disappears from the action And how is it that as a green hand Ishmael suddenly replaces Fedallah in Ahab's boat? That seems like a bit of a stretch to me But then I am nit picking on one of the greatest literary masterpieces of all time and that probably sounds ridiculous and pretentious perhapsWhat I loved about this book the atmosphere the excruciating detail the variety of dialogsyou feel like you are also on the deck of the Peuod when Starbuck and Ahab converseok that reminds me of another thing I found annoying Albeit the last solilouy of Ahab is one of the best in Moby Dick it seems almost out of character for him the whole book he is this dark moody almost one dimensional character and suddenly we seem him shedding a tear and opening his heart to the one that nearly shot him the First Mate Starbuck Perhaps I am too influenced by television but it seems a bit incongruent this time aroundOne aspect that just stuck out for me this time around was the latent homosexuality of the narrator Ishmael Besides the obvious coziness between him and ueeueg the description of his hands deep in spermaceti sueezing pieces of oil but also friends of other sailors performing the same task seemed highly sexualized to me I really hadn't thought about this aspect of Melville at all and upon doing a bit of research learned that he and Nathaniel Hawthorne of Scarlet Letter fame and to whom Moby Dick is dedicated may have been lovers Here is a letter from Melville to Hawthorne It doesn't actually change my perception or understanding of the book it is just a curious aspect that added a certain depth or texture to some of the passages such as the one I citedThere is definitely something universal about this story where Ahab clearly feels above morality and is brutally crushed by his pride The sad thing is that the entire crew pays the ultimate price for their adherence to his obsession The last two encounters that are described with other boats are masterful the contrast with the wild abandon of the Bachelor and the rejection of the forlorn Rachel were both perfect set up for the final acts of this tragedyI'll put this aside for now and come back to it in a few years If this inspired you to reread this masterpiece please let me know in the commentsand if I have any further thoughts I'll be sure to share them here my mateysThis is still one of my favorite books but I also read Bartleby the Scrivener The Confidence Man and Billy Budd from Melville which were so great Need to re read this one yet again And please don't bother with the unabridged version go for the whole whaleNeed to reread this againFor my French speaking readers there was a recording at Maison de la Radio in Paris which will be broadcast on France Culture on 27 October 2019 where a translated abbreviated version of this masterpiece was put to music Although I have an issue with appel moi Ishmael not being the opening line the production was fantastic and the music was uite moving despite occasionally drowning out the voices of the actors


  4. says:

    So Herman Melville's Moby Dick is supposed by many to be the greatest Engligh language novel ever written especially among those written in the Romantic tradition MehIt's not that I don't get that there's a TON of complexity subtlety and depth to this book about a mad captain's uest for revenge against a great white whale And on the surface it's even a pretty darn good adventure story And honestly Melville's prose is flowing elegant and as beautiful as any writing can possibly be It's magnificent actuallyIt's just that any enjoyment or satisfaction I got out of the book was overshadowed by the tedious largely pointless stretches of encylopedic descriptions about the whaling industry Melville strikes me as one of those people who would corner you at a party and talk incessantly about whaling whaling ships whales whale diet whale etymology whale zoology whale blubber whale delacies whale migration whale oil whale biology whale ecology whale meat whale skinning and every other possible topic about whales so that you'd finally have to pretend to have to go to the bathroom just to get away from the crazy old man Only he'd FOLLOW YOU INTO THE BATHROOM and keep talking to you about whales while peering over the side of the stall and trying to make eye contact with you the whole timeLook it's not that I don't get it Or at least some of it I get for example that Ishmael's description of the absurdities of whale classification systems provide a backdrop against which to project the recurring theme of mankind's doomed uest for complete understanding of truths that are ineffable and forever hidden sometimes literally under the surface I get that I just wish the guy didn't feel like he had to take it to such absurd lengths I do not need twenty pages about how to properly coil a harpoon line I can see why most people don't make it through this book without judicious skimmingStill I feel like I accomplished something and that I can now nod sagely the next time someone makes an obliue reference to Captain Ahab mentions the Peuod or refers to something as that person's Great White And chances are they skimmed than I did anyway


  5. says:

    i triedBoth ends of the line are exposed; the lower end terminating in an eye splice or loop coming up from the bottom against the side of the tub and hanging over its edge completely disengaged from everything This arrangement of the lower end is necessary on two accounts First In order to facilitate the fastening to it of an additional line from a neighboring boat in case the stricken whale should sound so deep as to threaten to carry off the entire line originally attached to the harpoon In these instances the whale of course is shifted like a mug of ale as it were from the one boat to the other; though the first boat always hovers at hand to assist its consort Second This arrangement is indispensible for common safety's sake; for were the lower end of the line in any way attached to the boat and were the whale then to run the line out to the end almost in a single smoking minute as he sometimes does he would not stop there for the doomed boat would infallibly be dragged down after him into the profundity of the sea; and in that case no town crier would ever find her again Before lowering the boat for the chase the upper end of the line is taken aft from the tub and passing round the loggerhead there is again carried forward the entire length of the boat resting crosswise upon the loom or handle of every man's oar so that it jogs against his wrist in rowing; and also passing between the men as they alternately sit at the opposing gunwales to the leaded chocks or grooves in the extreme pointed prow of the boat where a wooden pin or skewer the size of a common uill prevents it from slipping out From the chocks it hangs in a slight festoon over the bows and is then passed inside the boat again; and some ten or twenty fathoms called box line being coiled upon the box in the bows it continues its way to the gunwale still a little further aft and is then attached to the short warp the rope which is immediately connected with the harpoon; but previous to that connexion the short warp goes through sundry mystifications too tedious to detaili tried but any book with that passage and thousands of passages just like it can never get five stars from me and probably not even four not because i think it is shitty writing but because when i was growing up i was told that girls just wanna have fun and that was not giving me any fun at all everyone said nooo karen you were eighteen when you read this the first time and you just didn't give it your all you are bound to love it now with your years of accumulated knowledge and experienceand that sounded valid to me and it's like when i turned thirty and i decided to try all the foods i had thought were from the devil and see if i liked them now that i was old i thought that revisiting this book might have the same results and discoveries but this book remains like olives to me and not like rice pudding which have you tried it? is uite goodbut no turns out that when i was eighteen i was already fully formedand it's not that i don't understand it i get the biblical allusions i understand the bitter humor of fast fish loose fish i am aware of the foreshadowing and symbolism i went to school i learned my theory and my close reading but there are passages like the one above that i could not see the glory in all i could see was the dulland the bitch of it is that it started out fine good even i was really getting into the description of the docks and the nantuckters and it was giving me good new england y feelings and then came that first chapter about whale anatomy and i was laughing remembering encountering it during my first reading and being really angry that this chapter was jaggedly cutting in on the action and honestly it was really good at the end too but the whole middle of this book is pretty much a wash a sea of boredom with occasionally interesting icebergsat the beginning he claims that no one has ever written the definitive book about whales and whaling so kudos on that because this is pretty damn definitive it's just no fun maybe i would like it better if it had been about sharks?? i like sharksi know you wouldn't know it to look at me but i don't have a problem with challenging books i prefer a well told story sure and i am mostly just a pleasure reader not one that needs to be all snooty pants about everything i read but i've done the proust thing and while he can be wordy at times hahaahah his words will eventually move me i understand them and i appreciate being submerged into his character's thought soup viginia woolf dense writing but it is gorgeous writing that shines a light into the corners of human experience and is astonishing breathtaking thomas hardy has pages and pages of descriptive nature writing but manages to make it matter i just wasn't feeling that here the chapter on the way we perceive white animals the whale through various artistic representations rigging four different chapters on whale anatomy; it's just too much description not enough story; it seemed all digressive interludeand you would think that a book so full of semen and dick and men holding hands while sueezing sperm and grinning at each other would have been enough but i remain unconverted and sad of itmaybe if i had read this one it would have been differentoh no i have opened the GIS doori am only including this one because i totally have that shark stuffiemaybe i am just a frivolous person unable to appreciate the descriptive bludgeoning of one man's uest to detail every inch of the giant whale or maybe all y'all are wrong and deludedheh dickcome to my blog


  6. says:

    I hate this book so much It is impossible to ignore the literary merit of this work though; it is after all a piece of innovative literature Melville broke narrative expectations when he shed the narrator Ishmael and burst through with his infinite knowledge of all things whale It was most creative but then he pounded the reader with his knowledge of the whaling industry that could uite literally fill several textbooks This made the book so incredibly dull I’m not being naïve towards this book’s place in the literary cannon but I am sharing my agony for a book that bored me half to death with its singularity of purpose and expression it’s obsession with whales I’m just sick of themI understand that this is the main motif of the book Ahab becomes fuelled with his need to slay the leviathan but it wasn’t Ahab who droned on for three hundred pages about the properties of whales Despite the allegorical interpretation between the relationship and the comparisons between man and fish the book is unnecessarily packed out There are passages and passages that add nothing to the meaning or merit of the work Melville explains every aspect of the whaling industry in dry monotone manner There are entire chapters devoted to describing different whale types and even one even discussing the superiority of the sperm whale’s head Can you catch the expression of the Sperm Whale's there? It is the same he died with only some of the longer wrinkles in the forehead seem now faded away I think his broad brow to be full of a prairie like placidity born of a speculative indifference as to death But mark the other head's expression See that amazing lower lip pressed by accident against the vessel's side as as firmly to embrace the jaw Does not this whole head seem to speak of an enormous practical resolution in facing death? This Right Whale I take to have been a Stoic; the Sperm Whale a Platonian who might have taken up Spinoza in his latter yearsIt is just so agonising to read This is uite possibly the most painful book I’ve ever read in my life I’ve never hated a book than I hate this behemoth I just felt there was no purpose to so many of the chapters; they didn’t add to the narrative or increase Ahab’s obsession Also at times it wasn’t entirely clear who the narrator was There would be the occasional glimpse of Ishmael and his aspect of the story and then this all knowing entity with an unfathomable depth of whaling knowledge would begin up again Tedium defined The writing gives new breath to the definition of mundane monotonous and tedious It is repetitive expressionless and soul destroying I became and annoyed the further I got into this book as soon as some semblance of plot would come through and some small degree of progress I would be hit with another fifty pages or so describing the properties of whale bubbler and even on one occasion a chapter devoted to rope How fun I began to hate this book with a passion that made me almost scream every time the word “whale” came up Now this was some tough reading Moreover I could never understand how Melville could consider whaling such a noble profession There is nothing noble about it it may have once been a necessity but it has always been cruel and brutal It may have been a means for communities to survive and people to eat but there is no honour in it How can shoving a pole through a whale cutting its head off slicing away its blubber and desecrating its body be considered in any way praiseworthy? It’s an aspect of life that is comparable to man today slaughtering a cow There is simply no glamour to be had in the deed You’d think Melville was describing the life of a group of chivalrous knights; they were whalers not heroes This book is awful in every sense of the word It has achieved literary fame but I still personally hate it I found everything about it completely and utterly detestable Never again will I go within five feet of anything written by Herman Melville I think a part of me died whilst reading this book; it was just that disagreeable to me


  7. says:

    896 Moby Dick The Whale Herman MelvilleMoby Dick; or The Whale is a novel by American writer Herman Melville published in 1851 during the period of the American Renaissance Sailor Ishmael tells the story of the obsessive uest of Ahab captain of the whaler Peuod for revenge on Moby Dick the white whale that on the previous whaling voyage bit off Ahab's leg at the knee The novel was a commercial failure and out of print at the time of the author's death in 1891 but during the 20th century its reputation as a Great American Novel was established William Faulkner confessed he wished he had written it himself and D H Lawrence called it one of the strangest and most wonderful books in the world and the greatest book of the sea ever written Call me Ishmael is among world literature's most famous opening sentencesعنوانها «مابی دیک نهنگ سفید»، «موبی‌دیک نهنگ سفید» هرمان ملویل امیرکبیر ادبیات؛ تاریخ نخستین خوانش ماه دسامبر سال 2002میلادیمترجمها خانمها و آقایان «صالح حسینی در 776ص»؛ «پرویز داریوش در 422ص»؛ «ایاز خدادادی در 324ص»؛ «علی فاطمیان در 240ص»؛ «پروین ادیب در 209ص»؛ «رضا روزبه در 200ص»، «محمد شاطرلو در 183ص»؛ «علی اصغر محمدزاده سال 1335؛ در 168ص»؛ «نوشین ابراهیمی در 157ص»؛ «خسرو شایسته در 133ص»، «سهیلا احمدی در 120ص»؛ «نفیسه دربهشتی در 120ص»، «محمد طلوعی در 113ص»؛ «مجید ریاحی در 113ص»؛ «راضیه ابراهیمی در 111ص»؛ «الهام دانش نژاد در 80ص»؛ «کوثر محمود محمد در 72ص»؛ «محمد همت خواه در 59ص»؛ «نعیمه ظاهری در 48ص»؛ «محمدرضا جعفری در 32ص»، «سیدرضا مرتضوی در 28ص»؛ راوی که خود را «اسماعیل» می‌نامد، از «منهتن» برای پیوستن به کشتی شکار نهنگ، به «نیوبدفورد» آمده‌ است؛ مهمان‌خانه‌ ای که او به آن مراجعه می‌کند بسیار شلوغ است، و او مجبور می‌شود، یک تخت را با مردی خالکوبی‌ شده، به نام «کویکوئگ» از «پلی‌ نزی» شریک شود؛ این مرد یک زوبین‌ انداز است، و پدرش پادشاه جزیره ی «روکوووکو» است؛ صبح روز بعد «اسماعیل» و «کویکوئگ» به خطبه ی «پدر ماپل»، درباره ی «یونس» گوش فرا می‌دهند، و سپس راهی «نانتاکت» می‌شوند؛ «اسماعیل» با صاحبان کشتی «پکوئود»، «بیلداد» و «پلگ»، قرارداد امضا می‌کند؛ «پلگ» درباره ی ناخدا «ایهب» می‌گوید «احساسات انسانی خود را دارد»؛ صبح روز بعد آن‌ها با «کویکوئگ» نیز قرارداد امضا میکنند؛ مردی به نام «الیاس» پیشگویی می‌کند، که اگر «اسماعیل» و «کویکوئگ» به «ایهب» بپیوندند، به سرنوشتی وخیم دچار می‌شوند؛ در حالی‌که مایحتاج، در کشتی بارگیری می‌شوند، چهره‌ هایی سایه‌ وار سوار کشتی می‌شوند؛ در یک روز سرد کریسمس، «پکوئود» بندر را ترک می‌کند؛ و ؛تاریخ بهنگام رسانی 23061399هجری خورشیدی؛ ا شربیانی


  8. says:

    There once was a grouchy alpha whale named Moby Dick who rather than being agreeably shorn of his blubber and having lumpy sperm scooped out of his cranium like cottage cheese chose life Unlike so many shiftless layabout sea mammals of his generation Moby Dick did not go gentle into that good night This whale in short was not a back of the bus rider He assailed a shallow consumerist society which objectified him only as lamp oil or corset ribbing with the persuasive argument of his thrashing tail gaping maw and herculean bulk In his seminal in ways than one animal rights saga Herman Melville conjures an auatic rascally Norma Rae out of an elephantine albino whale Reasonably enough Moby Dick hereafter MD despite possible confusions with the profession is irritable when people are chasing him stabbing him with harpoons and trying to kill him Thus in an act which would be protected by law as self defense in most enlightened nations MD bites off part of the leg of one of his many hunters the humorless Captain Ahab Gall alert Gall alert Ahab has the nerve to hold a fucking grudge against the whale for this entirely ethical dismemberment He also holds a grudge for some incidental damage incurred to Lil' Ahab as a very weak corollary of his lost limb but I'm not even getting into that Judge Wapner would've never stomached that half baked reasoning so neither will I Now mind you MD doesn't like come ashore in Nantucket rent a lowrider horse drawn carriage and try to put a cap in the ass of that one legged old bitch ass captain who wanted to decapitate him So I mean who's really the petty one in this euation? The novel Moby Dick eschews a first person whale narrator in favor of Ishmael a bit of a rube who shows up in New Bedford with big dreams of a whaling career Whaling was the Hollywood of that era He meets this reformed cannibal harpooner named ueeueg who hails from the South Seas has lots of tattoos and moonlights as a decapitated human head salesman So basically he's rough trade Ishmael and ueeueg become fast friends and do all kinds of jovial homoerotic things together like cuddle in bed and curiously espy each other undressing despite their pronounced cultural differences I think Ishmael acts as a keen ethnographer when he highlights the variances ueeueg the savage idol worshipping hell condemned unenlightened oogah boogah heathen and Ishmael the white guy Yet their love endures It's as if all the sexual currents in Neil Simon's Odd Couple were suddenly foregrounded Ishmael and ueeueg find employment on the whaler Peuod helmed by none other than the killjoy Captain Ahab himself he of prosthetic whalebone leg abbreviated schlong and legendary grudge holding So the Peuod embarks upon a three or four year whaling adventure around the globe ostensibly in search of valuable whale oil but in fact as we later learn to bring about Ahab's vengeance against the Marxist whale MD who refuses to be expropriated by the Man Interestingly enough as the journey goes on Ishmael's character seems to evaporate In other words he gradually shifts from a compartmentalized first person narrator to an omniscient third person narrator He seems almost to have rescinded his identity or he only rarely invokes it in the latter part of the novel as if while we have been distracted by gloppy whale sperm and passing ships he morphed into the Star Child This transformation is of course intentional and creates a sense of broadening perspective throughout the novel of transcending the menial and specific to embrace a grand universal tragedy Here's the bottom line Moby Dick is an American classic that sounds as though it would be absolutely torturous to read A six hundred page nineteenth century novel about the pursuit of a whale? You've got to be kidding Did I mention that there are chapters after chapters that merely detail the processes and often gory procedures of whaling? I know Try to control yourself before you run out to the bookstore or library right? Wrong Wrong Wrong This novel is magnificent It proves what I have held true ever since I started writing myself that any subject at all from whittling to colonoscopies to Riverdance to bagpipe playing can be enthralling in the hands of a competent writer a writer like Melville who simultaneously locates the universal in this seemingly very particular narrative and makes even the occasionally perplexing rituals of whaling seem fascinating Also it's a captivating historical document chronicling MD's groundbreaking role in the nascent Whale Power movement Eat tailfin honkies


  9. says:

    I was that precocious brat who first read the whale esue sized Moby Dick at the age of nine Why? I had my reasons and they were twofold 1 I was in the middle of my I love Jacues Cousteau phase and this book had a picture of a whale on the cover2 It was on the bookshelf juuuuust above my reach and so obviously it was good because it was clearly meant to be not for little kids¹ and that made my little but bloated ego very happy¹ So in retrospect were War and Peace and Le Père Goriot and The Great Gatsby In retrospect there may have been an underlying pattern behind my childhood reading choices From what I remember I read this book as a sort of encyclopedia a bunch of short articles about whaling and whale taxonomy and many ways to skin a whale and occasional interruptions from little bits of what as I now see it was the plot It was confusing and yet informative like life itself is to nine year oldsWhat do I think about it now having aged a couple of decades? Well now I bow my head to the brilliance of it the unexpectedly beautiful language the captivating and apt metaphors the strangely progressive for its time views the occasional wistfulness interrupted by cheek The first third of it left me spellbound flying through the pages eager for Just look at this bit this unbelievable prose that almost makes me weep yes I'm a dork who can get weepy over literature I blame it on my literature teacher mother So there Whenever I find myself growing grim about the mouth; whenever it is a damp drizzly November in my soul; whenever I find myself involuntarily pausing before coffin warehouses and bringing up the rear of every funeral I meet; and especially whenever my hypos get such an upper hand of me that it reuires a strong moral principle to prevent me from deliberately stepping into the street and methodically knocking people's hats off then I account it high time to get to sea as soon as I can This is my substitute for pistol and ball With a philosophical flourish Cato throws himself upon his sword; I uietly take to the ship Bits like this is what made me stay up at night pouring over the pages I could finally see what my nine year old past self did not care about and appropriately so in the light of literal mindedness and straightforwardness that children possess Melville's constant persistent comparison of whaling to life itself using bits and pieces of whaling beliefs and rituals to illuminate the dark nooks and crannies of human souls to show that deep down inside regardless of our differences we all run on the same desires and motives and undercurrents of spirit Human madness is oftentimes a cunning and most feline thing When you think it fled it may have but become transfigured into some still subtler form The elusive White Whale is what we are all chasing in one form or another different for all of us different in how we see it and approach it and deal with it It's what we all pursue the difference is how Melville gives us one of the extremes the views of a single minded fanatic of one who puts everything aside sacrifices everything and everyone else for the sake of a dream of a desire of a goal; the person who is capable of leading others unified in his focused narrow overwhelmingly alluring vision We can call Ahab a madman We can also call him a great leader a visionary of sorts had he only used the charisma and the drive and the single minded obsession to reach a goal less absurd less suicidal less selfish Had he with this monomaniac single mindedness led a crusade for something we think is worthwhile would we still call him a madman or would we wordlessly admire his never altering determination? Isn't the true tragedy here in Ahab focusing his will on destruction and blind revenge leading those he's responsible for to destruction in the name of folly and pride? Is that where the madness lies? For there is no folly of the beast of the earth which is not infinitely outdone by the madness of men Moby Dick the elusive and largely symbolic whale until that is the last haunting three chapters where the chased idée fixe becomes terrifyingly real and refuses to humor Ahab's life goal is a force of nature so beautiful so majestic and breathtaking so lovingly described by Melville over pages and pages even though in all honesty he breaks up the fascination but trying unsuccessfully to persuade the reader that the amazing whale is just a fish Really the idea of a mere human considering it his right his goal to stand up to the majestic nature force armed with a destructive deadly weapon and bring it to the end after a long chase in the ultimate gesture of triumph that idea is chilling in its unremarkability Humans taming and conuering nature bending it to our will and desires the world being our oyster all that stuff It is not new It is what helped drive the industrial expansion of the modern society It is what makes us feel that we are masters of our world that our planet is ours to do whatever we humans please But Moby Dick finally abandoning his run from Ahab and standing up to him with such brutal ease is a reminder of the folly of such thinking and the reminder that there are forces we need to reckon with no matter how full of ourselves we may get Why only three stars you ask when clearly I appreciate the greatness of the classic? Because the metaphors and parallels and meandering narration at times would get to be too much because I uite often found my mind and attention easily wandering away in the last two thirds of the book needing a gargantuan effort to refocus This what took of a star and a half resulting in 35 sea stars grudgingly but yet willingly given to this classic of American Romanticism Buoyed up by that coffin for almost one whole day and night I floated on a soft and dirgelike main The unharming sharks they glided by as if with padlocks on their mouths; the savage sea hawks sailed with sheathed beaks On the second day a sail drew near nearer and picked me up at last It was the devious cruising Rachel that in her retracing search after her missing children only found another orphan


  10. says:

    So I just finished it a couple of days ago and pretty much everything else pales in comparison About three hundred pages in it was already in my top ten favorite novels of all time and it didn't disappoint muchas I continued reading I actually deliberately drew out getting to the ending so I could savor the last few hundred pages or so Damn What a doozy What can really be said about this book which hasn't been said before?A couple of major points that bear mentioning It's dense The language is deeply referential complex allusive and encyclopedic poetic in almost an archaic way You have to slow down a bit and reread the sentences in order to get their maximum impact You can read it it just means that if you really want to get the full experience you should kick the can slowly down the roadI'd heard about the whaling chapters getting tedious and academic and to a good degree they are but honestly I didn't find that form of density that bad a reading experience Melville's pretty good at keeping that part of the writing suitably compelling and informative even if you're not terribly interested in the digressions into the specific subject matter It's funny there's a sort of slapstick humor in places some rough and curt observations and one liners Ishmael to the extent that he is in fact the narrator of a cypher really as things wear on is a picaresue for sure I found him charming somewhat goofy adventuresome good natured and rather high spirited which was a bit of a surprise I liked him uite a bit I also noticed part of the way through that he doesn't actually 'say' his name is Ishmael he merely suggests or demands that you call him by that name Interesting no? And there's some back story on him but really not very much You draw some inferences by his speech and his circumstances and his range of references but like I said he's or less ephemeral It's gay Not in that annoying overly politicized kind of reading but there is a strong rather overt current of homosexualuhtension? preoccupation? Interest? I'd heard some sarcastic remarks before about the kind of interaction between Ishmael and ueeueg in the beginning when they meet by accident in a room at an inn but I was struck by how sort of undisguised it was I have no issue or particular disapproval with it morally or whatever it was just surprising how unexplained and irreducible the homoerotic overtones were There's an entire chapter much later on which can in all honesty be referred to as a kind of circle jerk I'm not kidding Andrew Delbanco in his brilliant and elouent biography uotes one of Melville's critics on this particular point It's not hyperbole O and for what it's worth there are no women whatsoever Not even as cameos at least that I noticed It's a bit of a shame actually since this would have been interesting But yeah not a woman in sight occasionally the family of one character or another might be mentioned but nobody makes a flesh and blood appearance It's postmodern as all hell The references to external texts are heavy complex and do create a sort of meta reading experience of its own Ishmael is a sort of neo Platonist it's true and this is represented at various points But nothing in this book is left to cool for very long part of the tale involves his deep reckoning with that very philosophy as applied to the perils and concrete realities of the world as experienced in an everyday way The awareness on the part of Ishmael and Melville himself on that in a moment of his predecessors literary and historical is profound and constantly at play Melville has a very interesting and difficult balancing act in terms of the narrative voice Ishmael is the host for about a third or and then it sort of becomes an invisible 'Melvillean' voice leading you along Not to mention the deepening presence of Ahab as the story starts to heat up He definitely becomes the central voice for much of the narrative and textual fabric of the story And then there's uite a few extremely de centered Joycean passages where you aren't exactly sure what is real and what is taking place in a kind of polyphonic ensemble of dislocated or less decontextualized voices yammering on about god knows what And then there's the profound unsettling meditation on the very whiteness of the whale itself It's American all right I wouldn't necessarily want to pin the Great American Novel medal on it much as I loved it I'm not convinced that there is or can be such a thing It is essentially an American novel though and so much of our national identity is contained herein There's the concern for the everyman the relentless obsession with personal freedom and individuality the drive for economic power and mercantile processes the sort of omniscient Darwinism that pervades the ostensibly democratic structures and mentality of the participants I know Ahab's autocratic that could hardly be in doubt but he's not the only one giving orders even if he's the top dog There's a really deep sense of raw nature as an all against all on the boat itself besides the fact that they are in direct competition with other ships for a possibly very lucrative and by no means guaranteed payday There's some very interesting and complicated racial dynamics and the almost unconscious tacit acceptance of charisma as the main selling point for political power The religious overtones are heavy and loaded in all possible meanings of the term though as Harold Bloom is wont to say America or Ishmael or Ahab or the narrator Melville himself as he appears perhaps separately from the author ness is very much like the Peuod obsessed with religion even thinks its religious though it is not itself a religious country And if there's any religion as a guiding light it's decidedly of the Old Testament kind The god of Moby Dick ain't handing out any loaves and fishes that's for sure Ahab's Ahab He was everything I thought he'd be and I was actually impressed by what a complex character he turned out to be I knew he'd be monomaniacal but there's some very interesting tender moments he has both alone and with others which I was not expecting It'sgaspShakespearean You know how Shakespeare's language has that same rich density that chiming music of cognition where the metaphors stream by like scales of notes as the characters solilouize themselves into being? Yeah It's got that And there's even as the story continues uite a few stage directions to boot Melville had freshly discovered Shakespeare right around the time he'd begun work on it and it showsA friend of mine had read it recently and we agreed that Moby Dick sort of makes it so that you almost can't really read any novels after it In its wake if you will I personally am still feeling the reverberations It's like an atom bomb for your brain If that's the kind of thing you think you might enjoy by all means please do give it a whirl