Moby Dick

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I searched, but there weren't any appropriate for reviving. Another monumental tome I didn't expect to enjoy that I am not only loving, but reading at work in front of surly pipefitters and electricians and recommending to them, because it is damn funny. And involving. I had no idea. How did I come to absorb (and accept) the idea that Moby Dick would be lugubrious, boring, and dry?

Jaq (Jaq), Tuesday, 29 November 2005 04:54 (fourteen years ago) link

i started a thread about it on ile last year: This is the thread where J.D. tries to read "Moby-Dick."

i left off about halfway through and just picked it up again a few weeks ago, and i'm almost done. i agree that it's a much more fun book than ppl say - i actually find all the technical detail about whaling pretty interesting.

J.D. (Justyn Dillingham), Tuesday, 29 November 2005 05:01 (fourteen years ago) link

People who think the exhaustive detail about whales and whaling is superfluous are missing the point. Moby Dick is a book about obsession, and it's much more fun if you allow yourself to get into the obsession.

Abbadabba Berman (Hurting), Tuesday, 29 November 2005 05:30 (fourteen years ago) link

The only time I've tried to read this I couldn't get past the first few chapters. Which is a shame because so much of what I've read about this book sounds so good (including whaling details).

Casuistry (Chris P), Tuesday, 29 November 2005 05:38 (fourteen years ago) link

i still have another half or so to go. i got sidetracked.

it was a good thing the beginning turned out to be so funny. otherwise it would have been hard to press on.

Josh (Josh), Tuesday, 29 November 2005 06:14 (fourteen years ago) link

It's a great book. I have an edition with woodcuts of whales and the like. Ahab is a magnificent character, and Melville's a marvelous writer. I don't know why everyone thinks it will be so stuffy.

wmlynch (wlynch), Tuesday, 29 November 2005 06:36 (fourteen years ago) link

Oh and there was an interesting article on Melville in the last issue of New York Review of Books, but it's not online (well, unless you subscribe to the online thingy).

wmlynch (wlynch), Tuesday, 29 November 2005 06:37 (fourteen years ago) link

cuz old = stuffy

Josh (Josh), Tuesday, 29 November 2005 06:47 (fourteen years ago) link

I read this about 5 summers ago, and was surprised by how much I enjoyed it.

o. nate (onate), Tuesday, 29 November 2005 19:21 (fourteen years ago) link

It's amazing. I'm re-reading it right now as well. It's very funny, indeed, and strange. Closer in some ways to Kafka or Sterne than one would imagine. And to Shakespeare, of course. Those whaling passages--which are also quite beautiful--can wear in spots, but I view them as sorta like the second-epilogue of War & Peace. Skippable if you must, and sort of...a humanizing flaw.

Dark Horse, Wednesday, 30 November 2005 20:48 (fourteen years ago) link

I started and didn't get going with Moby Dick a few times until my GF and I started reading it aloud to each other. We were living by the ocean and the rhythms of the surf and the prose supported each other. As a unique reading experience it measures up (for me) with Ulysses, Proust, Riddley Walker, Beckett's 3 novels (all read aloud at least some of the time). I was even fascinated by the chapter describing the rope.

steve ketchup, Thursday, 1 December 2005 16:21 (fourteen years ago) link

Ahab has finally shown his face! And in the Cetology chapter, Ishmael puts whales in Folio, Octavo, and Duodecimo categories, which I found hilarious. I did have to admit to a pipefitter yesterday that the language is a bit high-falutin' (he had asked me if it was regular english or not earlier in the week).

Jaq (Jaq), Thursday, 1 December 2005 17:56 (fourteen years ago) link

i'm quite interested to read this new biography becasue i'm so obsessed with "Bartleby". I haven't gotten round to MD yet though.

jed_ (jed), Friday, 2 December 2005 22:33 (fourteen years ago) link

Everybody otm, I started it out of some sense of "Oh I guess I should read this" and really enjoyed it. Including all the whale and whaling stuff, I liked getting totally immersed in that world. And some very strange, sensual stuff in there too -- the chapter where the men all have their hands immersed in whale oil is almost orgiastic.

gypsy mothra (gypsy mothra), Saturday, 3 December 2005 01:37 (fourteen years ago) link

i guess i should read this, huh.

tom west (thomp), Saturday, 3 December 2005 03:10 (fourteen years ago) link

For a short intro to HM (for any intimidated by the size of MD), I recomment "The Lightning-Rod Man" from the Piazza Tales.

steve ketchup, Saturday, 3 December 2005 05:46 (fourteen years ago) link

Oh god, I am down to the last 25 or so pages and it is so INTENSE. Like plummeting down a gigantic hill on an old rickety wooden rollercoaster, the sense of DOOM and BAD BAD THINGS just keeps piling on! Starbuck, why didn't you shoot him, when you had the chance that night?!

Jaq (Jaq), Friday, 16 December 2005 22:37 (thirteen years ago) link

And gypsy mothra, you are so OTM on that "squeezing the oil" chapter! My word!

Jaq (Jaq), Friday, 16 December 2005 22:43 (thirteen years ago) link

four years pass...

I am almost finished this, reading it for my classic book club. It is an amazing book... I can see where people who hail it as the greatest ever novel in the English language are coming from.

And yes, it is very funny, and it does lots of strange digressions, but when the action gets going, Jesus. The last 100-150 pages of my edition are astonishingly page turning.

The New Dirty Vicar, Tuesday, 23 March 2010 15:15 (nine years ago) link

I tried this once, and failed.

quincie, Tuesday, 23 March 2010 15:52 (nine years ago) link

the trick is to read it alound in your head in an "salty sea dog" voice

Fox Force Five Punchline (sexyDancer), Tuesday, 23 March 2010 15:56 (nine years ago) link

a "salty, er

Fox Force Five Punchline (sexyDancer), Tuesday, 23 March 2010 15:56 (nine years ago) link

have had this book out from the library since last...october. progress: 50 pages

丫 power (dyao), Tuesday, 23 March 2010 16:01 (nine years ago) link

Yarrr, a land lubber eee be.

The New Dirty Vicar, Tuesday, 23 March 2010 16:17 (nine years ago) link

ilx lubber more like it ;.;

it is just like an unknown puzzle till the end of the world (dyao), Tuesday, 23 March 2010 16:20 (nine years ago) link

i find a lot of melville's other work more interesting than moby dick, it was kind of a disappointment when i finally got around to it

bernardyao (velko), Tuesday, 23 March 2010 16:22 (nine years ago) link

I really enjoyed it when I read it earlier in the year, though I have a fondness for the tone of 19th-century encyclopaedias, which helped, I think.

I'm surprised at those who call it the Great American Novel, not because it's not great, but because it doesn't seem much concerned with America at all.

There is this theory that it is A Meditation On America - as opposed to a meditaton on whales and the maniacs who hunt them.

The New Dirty Vicar, Thursday, 25 March 2010 17:05 (nine years ago) link

H. Bloom loves to compare Ahab to Andrew Jackson (it's been a while; is that conceit in the actual text?)...sometimes I think the "Great American Novel" hype is just because it's a great novel written by an American...

don't let it rest on the President's desk (Drugs A. Money), Saturday, 27 March 2010 01:50 (nine years ago) link

harold bloom is fat

velko, Saturday, 27 March 2010 02:49 (nine years ago) link

one month passes...

reading it now - awesome.

"I'm surprised at those who call it the Great American Novel" :

one way of interpretation is to see the novel as an allegory to how destructive totalitarism is as oppose to democracy.
in a way, the book is one out of many foundations for the american democracy, as portrait by art.

Zeno, Tuesday, 4 May 2010 12:54 (nine years ago) link

Have been trying this and I started off really liking it, no problem with the the salty sea-dog prose and the characters were really striking; but then, my god, the endless digressions. History of whaling, crap cetology, how the crow's nest was invented... get on with the story already! I've pretty much given up ;_; perhaps there's an abridged version I could tackle.

the big pink suede panda bear hurts (ledge), Tuesday, 4 May 2010 16:02 (nine years ago) link

Closer in some ways to Kafka

Which is interesting, because it's always been "Bartleby" that's considered a predessor to Kafka.

Anyway, after you all get done with Moby Dick, go read John Kessel's "Another Orphan," the story of a man who wakes up and becomes a character in that book. (It's much better than that description sounds. Trust me. )

Christine Green Leafy Dragon Indigo, Tuesday, 4 May 2010 16:35 (nine years ago) link

A memorable sequence from chap 94, for those who like homoeroticism in their classics...

Squeeze! squeeze! squeeze! all the morning long; I squeezed that sperm
till I myself almost melted into it; I squeezed that sperm till a
strange sort of insanity came over me; and I found myself unwittingly
squeezing my co-laborers' hands in it, mistaking their hands for the
gentle globules. Such an abounding, affectionate, friendly, loving
feeling did this avocation beget; that at last I was continually
squeezing their hands, and looking up into their eyes sentimentally; as
much as to say,--Oh! my dear fellow beings, why should we longer cherish
any social acerbities, or know the slightest ill-humor or envy! Come;
let us squeeze hands all round; nay, let us all squeeze ourselves into
each other; let us squeeze ourselves universally into the very milk and
sperm of kindness.

Would that I could keep squeezing that sperm for ever!

And this, which I found in reading ABOUt Moby-Dick

The largest monster in antebellum literature was the kraken depicted in Eugene
Batchelder’s Romance of the Sea-Serpent, or The Ichthyosaurus (1849), a bizarre
narrative poem about a sea serpent that terrorizes the coast of Massachusetts,
destroys a huge ship in mid-ocean, repasts on human remains gruesomely
with sharks and whales, attends a Harvard commencement (where he has
been asked to speak), shocks partygoers by appearing at a Newport ball, and
at last is hunted and killed by a fleet of Newport sailors.

I need to read that.

Christ, now there's a mission - I like to imagine the nanosecond I submit my interlibary form (as I most certainly will), it'll come back NO! NO! NO! with no other explanation given.

R Baez, Thursday, 6 May 2010 18:14 (nine years ago) link

That sounds like a poem I would love!

this book sux

coining (Lamp), Thursday, 6 May 2010 19:55 (nine years ago) link

I need to read that.

Full view over at Google Books, I see. It rhymes but it's written out in prose.

alimosina, Thursday, 6 May 2010 20:17 (nine years ago) link

Argh! I can't find it. Link, please?

Try this one.

alimosina, Friday, 7 May 2010 15:13 (nine years ago) link

Am so reading that at the w/end.

I had gained ten lewis (ledge), Friday, 7 May 2010 15:17 (nine years ago) link

Slightly better than this at least.

alimosina, Saturday, 8 May 2010 03:31 (nine years ago) link

Thank you so much for this! These are the best/worst couplets ever.

Magic! Thank you for the link!

Thank you for the link!

Heck, I'd never heard of this, uh, marvel until your post.

Abbott's next paper... "Polarities of Prophetic Vision: Paradise Lost and Romance of the Sea-Serpent"

alimosina, Monday, 10 May 2010 13:35 (nine years ago) link

That sounds like a poem I would love!
--This is four-dimensional art; the 4th dimension is incredibly powerful. (Abbott)

mrsameh31, Wednesday, 12 May 2010 06:07 (nine years ago) link

They don't even try to keep a consistent meter. I needed this so bad in my life right now.

Oh man, once you've done that, would it be possible for me to purchase one, too?

frozen cookie (Abbott), Tuesday, 18 May 2010 04:58 (nine years ago) link

Yes! Will it look like the Google book version printed out, or will it have a different layout?

frozen cookie (Abbott), Tuesday, 18 May 2010 05:23 (nine years ago) link

Sadly it will look like the Google Book version (but with library stamps removed): I wanted it fast. But it has endpapers with extra pictures of sea monsters!

I've pretty much given up ;_; perhaps there's an abridged version I could tackle.

I have been pondering whether a version that was all narrative would still work. Anyway, you could try skipping the non-narrative chapters and see how it works. It is pretty much all narrative for the last c. 150 pages - and exciting narrative at that.

The New Dirty Vicar, Tuesday, 25 May 2010 14:41 (nine years ago) link

two years pass...

If anyone is struggling with Moby Dick, the bastard offspring of TEH AMAZE RANDY has posted a helpful summary of it on Goodreads:

The New Dirty Vicar, Sunday, 14 April 2013 22:15 (six years ago) link

About time the random homework googlers have started giving back to ILB.


Pat Finn, Sunday, 14 April 2013 23:47 (six years ago) link

glad rachel's included

the white queen and her caustic judgments (difficult listening hour), Monday, 15 April 2013 00:16 (six years ago) link

four years pass...

Moby-Dick in Macedonian

xyzzzz__, Thursday, 31 August 2017 21:45 (two years ago) link

eleven months pass...

started reading this on a plane last week and i'm totally absorbed. every sentence is an adventure. it totally speaks to that 7-year-old version of me that wanted to obsessively catalog every species of shark, or 5-year-old me who knew all the dinosaurs. i haven't reached the cetalogy chapter (only just met Ahab and the Pequod), but i think i'm prepared.

voodoo chili, Thursday, 23 August 2018 18:58 (one year ago) link

eleven months pass...

happy 200th to H.M.!

(The Other) J.D. (J.D.), Thursday, 1 August 2019 18:02 (four months ago) link


— Lee Rourke 🔰 (@LeeRourke) August 1, 2019

xyzzzz__, Friday, 2 August 2019 09:55 (four months ago) link

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