Melville at 200
August 2, 2019 2:47 PM   Subscribe

 
OMG the Moby-Dick big read. Yes please.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 3:03 PM on August 2, 2019 [9 favorites]


Some great links! This line, from the first one, "Other scenes are deeply homoerotic: sailors massage each others’ hands in a tub of sperm oil" if anything, really undersells what's going on in A Squeeze of the Hand. I mean:

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.
posted by Ragged Richard at 3:08 PM on August 2, 2019 [14 favorites]


You broke your little ships.
posted by sugar and confetti at 3:13 PM on August 2, 2019 [5 favorites]


I love Moby Dick unabashedly, and people who've never read it or were forced to read it never understand why. It's a weird book to start, because it begins with a slew of extracts, boring quotes about whales from ancient texts. Readers tend to see this as old fashioned and miss the framing device of the Sub-Sub-Librarian. The whole novel is shot through with effects like this that Dave Eggers or David Foster Wallace would be lauded for, but the old fashioned language is a barrier for people. It means they miss the fart jokes, in fact they miss almost all of the humor.

Readers complain about how much of the book is just natural history of whales. But they don't complain when Michael Crichton writes whole chapters about dinosaurs or chaos theory. It's fascinating to think that so many people lit their homes primarily with whale oil. Crazy!

And there's the chapter that's written as a play, complete with stage directions? Melville was doing everything he could with the technology available to him to create a multimedia extravaganza on the page, equal parts comedy, tragedy, travelogue, sermon, and whatever else he could blend up and throw in, long, long before the term "postmodern" was coined.

Okay, so it's not a light read. But I will maintain to my dying breath that it is a FUN read, for anyone willing to put in a fraction of the effort it takes to read Shakespeare. I guess I'm lucky I never had to read it in school and instead arrived to it on my own without any papers or class discussion looming over my head.
posted by rikschell at 3:32 PM on August 2, 2019 [82 favorites]


rikschell: "boring quotes about whales from ancient texts"

Boring? Boring?!
posted by chavenet at 3:36 PM on August 2, 2019 [13 favorites]


The chowder bit always makes me hungry.

However, a warm savory steam from the kitchen served to belie the apparently cheerless prospect before us. But when that smoking chowder came in, the mystery was delightfully explained. Oh, sweet friends! hearken to me. It was made of small juicy clams, scarcely bigger than hazel nuts, mixed with pounded ship biscuit, and salted pork cut up into little flakes; the whole enriched with butter, and plentifully seasoned with pepper and salt. Our appetites being sharpened by the frosty voyage, and in particular, Queequeg seeing his favorite fishing food before him, and the chowder being surpassingly excellent, we despatched it with great expedition: when leaning back a moment and bethinking me of Mrs. Hussey's clam and cod announcement, I thought I would try a little experiment. Stepping to the kitchen door, I uttered the word "cod" with great emphasis, and resumed my seat. In a few moments the savory steam came forth again, but with a different flavor, and in good time a fine cod- chowder was placed before us.
posted by Splunge at 3:39 PM on August 2, 2019 [13 favorites]


Could’ve been the first listicle!
posted by rikschell at 3:40 PM on August 2, 2019 [1 favorite]


Moby Dick seems to me a very funny book. It's filled with absurdist, sly, wry, deadpan and slapstick humor. When I talk about this with other people who have read it, I think I must have been hallucinating, because the humor doesn't seem to register for lots of readers. So, then I go back and check and, yeah, it's still hilarious.
posted by cron at 3:42 PM on August 2, 2019 [19 favorites]


The unabridged audio book read by Frank Muller is, like all of Muller's work, sublime.
posted by chavenet at 3:45 PM on August 2, 2019 [4 favorites]


Readers complain about how much of the book is just natural history of whales. But they don't complain when Michael Crichton writes whole chapters about dinosaurs or chaos theory. It's fascinating to think that so many people lit their homes primarily with whale oil. Crazy!

I read Ian McGuire's The North Water fairly recently, and it's set in the tail-end (heh) of the whaling industry's fortunes because there were cheaper (and less...greasy) ways to light your house by that point.
By 1850 a consumer had a choice of:

* Camphene or “burning fluid” — 50 cents/gallon (combinations of alcohol,
turpentine and camphor oil – bright, sweet smelling)
* whale oil — $1.30 to $2.50/gallon
* lard oil — 90 cents (low quality, smelly)
* coal oil — 50 cents (sooty, smelly, low quality) (the original “kerosene”)
* kerosene from petroleum — 60 cents (introduced in early 1860s)
Anyway, I really liked The North Water, and turning back to Melville I feel like some of the context that McGuire assumes the reader will just have in their own head, however faint, owes a huge debt to Moby-Dick and its wide influence -- one that extends to people who've never read it.

Then there's the whole flenser costume scene in Judy Blume's Blubber.

Also, I didn't think hearing John Waters read a chapter from Moby-Dick was something I needed in my day, but here we are. And Tilda Swinton's reading of the first chapter is kind of perfect, really.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 3:53 PM on August 2, 2019 [5 favorites]


Alexandra Petri on Moby Dick: WHALE FACTS

Just saw a production of the Benjamin Britten opera adaptation of Billy Budd (reviews here, here, here, and here.) I read the novella for the first time the same afternoon and I think the opera's an improvement on the original what with not spending so much time on excessively detailed and probably kinda racist physical descriptions of all the people mentioned in the story. Also I was sort of hoping for more SHIP FACTS but I guess I can go to Patrick O'Brian for that. I was impressed with how much of the Melville text the librettists seemed to have kept. The more florid turns of phrase were all straight from the book.

(Anyway, sorry for the derail onto Billy Budd but... it was really good and also there were cannons.)
posted by asperity at 3:54 PM on August 2, 2019 [7 favorites]


MetaFilter: it was really good and also there were cannons
posted by chavenet at 3:59 PM on August 2, 2019 [6 favorites]


(Anyway, sorry for the derail onto Billy Budd but... it was really good and also there were cannons.)

All good.

For anyone who watched The Sopranos, there's also the Billy Budd scene.

Melville, man. He gets around.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 4:00 PM on August 2, 2019 [2 favorites]


I have argued for a long time that Moby-Dick should be considered a prototype of the microhistory. All those fascinating tangents!
posted by MonkeyToes at 4:02 PM on August 2, 2019 [5 favorites]


Equally sublime is Chapter 132, The Symphony, as read by Cerys Matthews. I listened to it three times before I moved on, just because her voice is so lovely and so perfectly suited to the content.
posted by ALeaflikeStructure at 4:04 PM on August 2, 2019 [3 favorites]


Chapter 132, The Symphony, as read by Cerys Matthews

Thanks for pointing that out. Just gave it a listen -- so good.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 4:24 PM on August 2, 2019 [2 favorites]


Immediately after grad school I had a hard time reading anything substantive for fun, just totally burnt out. As I gradually got back into the rhythm I started gradually working through the classics on my own terms, for fun. Didn't always work that way but I loved Moby Dick. Everything about it, including the not-boring-to-me-at-all asides and digressions about everything.

On the homoerotic front (hee hee) I'm glad the article brings up something I don't hear about as much as the sperm-hands thing: Ishamel and Queequeg getting Pagan gay married! Early on, and blantantly!
posted by traveler_ at 4:30 PM on August 2, 2019 [4 favorites]


I read a recently published biography of Melville and was surprised to learn that Moby Dick was written relatively early in his (admittedly brief) career. I had always assumed it marked some kind of grand culmination of his life's work, when in reality it was written just five years after his first published book and predates all of his short stories and most longer works that are still remembered today.

Honestly, the bio was kind of a bummer of a read, in that he never achieved any lasting success or acclaim and didn't produce much of anything during the last 35 years of his life, other than some dabblings in poetry. It was basically one sad failure after another and then he died. I suppose literary immortality is a nice consolation prize.
posted by Atom Eyes at 4:38 PM on August 2, 2019 [2 favorites]


Melville was too hot and too talented to be enthralled and bewitched by Hawthorne, a mediocre writer who looked like he was always being pinched. That is all.
posted by The Whelk at 4:42 PM on August 2, 2019 [17 favorites]


Another cheerful amen to how baffling it is that even many people who've allegedly read it don't seem to know it's frequently really funny.
But the directions he had given us about keeping a yellow warehouse on our starboard hand till we opened a white church to the larboard, and then keeping that on the larboard hand till we made a corner three points to the starboard, and that done, then ask the first man we met where the place was; these crooked directions of his very much puzzled us at first...
Any honest cannibal will laugh at hitting the "ask the first man we met where the place was" after the buildup, which is why they make much better and more trustworthy companions than any dishonest christian.
posted by Drastic at 4:43 PM on August 2, 2019 [3 favorites]


Oh, I should bring up that Kim Stanley Robinson's book New York 2140 was full of MELVILLE FACTS, which was extra fun because Robinson is notable himself for the "let me tell you all the facts I learned about X" habit.
posted by asperity at 4:48 PM on August 2, 2019 [4 favorites]


One thing I love about Moby Dick is the slow build. It takes a ways into the book before Ahab is mentioned, even longer before we even see him. The whale doesn't appear until almost the very end. Coming at the book with a sense of what it's all about because it's been around so long, that surprised me.
posted by kokaku at 4:50 PM on August 2, 2019 [1 favorite]


I confess that as a teen, I got through what seemed to me to be about 200 pages of WHALE FACTS and then skipped straight to the last chapter. I later enjoyed the hell out of his shorter works, but never circled back around to Moby Dick.

...Aw, heck, it's the weekend and I wasn't going to do anything anyway.
posted by Room 101 at 4:57 PM on August 2, 2019 [1 favorite]


I really need to read Moby Dick again. This post got me thinking about it. Having put some of those thoughts down below, holy fuck if you had told 16 year old me that one day I would be writing essays on Moby Dick for fun... Anyway.

I find myself more sympathetic towards Ahab as I get older. This probably isn't an original thought, but one thing that occurred to me: The White Whale as a proxy for mortality. Now, Moby Dick is too big and too dense to be reduced to a simple symbolic rebus. Any particular interpretation of it is like taking an angled slice through a heterogeneous mass, each different "angle of cut", as it were, will reveal a different pattern. All of them implicit in the whole object, and all of them true, but none of them complete. With the disclaimer out of the way, I will continue my particular cut.

I do think that it's mortality that's what's driving Ahab on. It's made very clear from early on that Ahab is a remarkable man. He's built up to nearly mythic proportions as Ishmael signs onto the ship, with another whaling Captain describing him with: "Ahab’s above the common; Ahab’s been in colleges, as well as ’mong the cannibals; been used to deeper wonders than the waves; fixed his fiery lance in mightier, stranger foes than whales. His lance! aye, the keenest and the surest that out of all our isle! Oh! he ain’t Captain Bildad; no, and he ain’t Captain Peleg; he’s Ahab, boy; and Ahab of old, thou knowest, was a crowned king!” "

Hell, Ishamel echoes the sentiment later, when looking at Ahab sitting on an an Ivory stool on the deck of his the Pequod: "In old Norse times, the thrones of the sea-loving Danish kings were fabricated, saith tradition, of the tusks of the narwhale. How could one look at Ahab then, seated on that tripod of bones, without bethinking him of the royalty it symbolized? For a Khan of the plank, and a king of the sea, and a great lord of Leviathans was Ahab. "

It's also made clear right away that Ahab is old. I don't know that it's clear how old, but old enough, given Ishmael's description of him: "Old age is always wakeful; as if, the longer linked with life, the less man has to do with aught that looks like death. Among sea-commanders, the old greybeards will oftenest leave their berths to visit the night-cloaked deck. It was so with Ahab; only that now, of late, he seemed so much to live in the open air, that truly speaking, his visits were more to the cabin, than from the cabin to the planks. “It feels like going down into one’s tomb,”—he would mutter to himself—“for an old captain like me to be descending this narrow scuttle, to go to my grave-dug berth.”"

It's also pretty clear that Ahab is feeling his age. When Ahab is having his harpoon forged he has a fairly telling exchange with the blacksmith, who boasts about being able to smooth "all seams and dents but one". Ahab's response is pretty famous: “look ye here—here—can ye smoothe out a seam like this, blacksmith,” sweeping one hand across his ribbed brow; “if thou could’st, blacksmith, glad enough would I lay my head upon thy anvil, and feel thy heaviest hammer between my eyes. Answer! Can’st thou smoothe this seam?”

It could be Ahab talking about the scar on his face, but he moves his hand across his brow. That's tracking wrinkles in the brow, not the vertical scar. Plus there's a line that follows that suggests it isn't. "thou only see’st it here in my flesh, it has worked down into the bone of my skull—that is all wrinkles!". Again, wrinkles, signs of age, in his bones. Ahab is feeling his age, and is desperate. Ahab is the King in winter.

I feel like this is why he's so obsessed with Moby Dick. Moby Dick wounded him, and diminished him. In so doing Moby Dick became an embodiment of his mortality, the overall decline Ahab feels in his bones. It's not simply vengeance against a whale Ahab wants. It's vengeance against age, against decline, against his own death. I the older I get the more I get that impulse.

And having gone through this again, dear God Melville could write.
posted by Grimgrin at 4:59 PM on August 2, 2019 [29 favorites]


I still feel like the squeezing of the sperm has nothing on my favorite homoerotic scene from Typee (my favorite Melville novel), in which fire is created:
At first Kory-Kory goes to work quite leisurely, but gradually
quickens his pace, and waxing warm in the employment, drives
the stick furiously along the smoking channel, plying his hands
to and fro with amazing rapidity, the perspiration starting from
every pore. As he approaches the climax of his effort, he pants
and grasps for breath, and his eyes almost start from their sockets
with the violence of his exertions. This is the critical stage of
the operation; all his previous labours are vain if he cannot sus-
tain the rapidity of the movement until the reluctant spark is
produced. Suddenly he stops, becomes perfectly motionless.
His hands still retain their hold of the smaller stick, which is
pressed convulsively against the further end of the channel
among the fine powder there accumulated, as if he had just
pierced through and through some little viper that was wriggling
and struggling to escape from his clutches. The next moment a
delicate wreath of smoke curls spirally into the air, the heap of
dusty particles glows with fire, and Kory-Kory almost breathless,
dismounts from his steed.

posted by TwoStride at 5:00 PM on August 2, 2019 [4 favorites]


Give it up, sub-subs!
posted by mmmbacon at 5:04 PM on August 2, 2019 [2 favorites]


I feel like this is why he's so obsessed with Moby Dick. Moby Dick wounded him, and diminished him. In so doing Moby Dick became an embodiment of his mortality, the overall decline Ahab feels in his bones. It's not simply vengeance against a whale Ahab wants. It's vengeance against age, against decline, against his own death.

Yup, agreed. My teenager wants to watch "Breaking Bad," and asked what it was about, and after I gave him the storyline, I told him that it helps to think about Walter White as an Ahab figure, raging against mortality and sucking those around him down into his vortex...
posted by MonkeyToes at 5:38 PM on August 2, 2019 [1 favorite]


but gradually quickens his pace, and waxing warm in the employment, drives
the stick furiously along the smoking channel, plying his hands
to and fro with amazing rapidity, the perspiration starting from
every pore. As he approaches the climax of his effort, he pants
and grasps for breath, and his eyes almost start from their sockets
with the violence of his exertions.


Well how else do you do it
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 5:44 PM on August 2, 2019 [9 favorites]


OK, yes, but:

...now let’s talk about Clarel. Nobody ever talks about Clarel.
posted by aramaic at 5:45 PM on August 2, 2019 [2 favorites]


Various fanworks:

My all-time favourite Moby Dick fanfic

@vandroidhelsing on Twitter:
"Did you know: Nathaniel Hawthorne and Herman Melville TOTALLY had a 19th-century bromance going on, anyway here's my reconstruction of how that looked"

[prints here]

I was sure there'd be a comic by Kate Beaton, but this valentine is all I found.
posted by Pallas Athena at 5:53 PM on August 2, 2019 [3 favorites]


@RayWalston: "How else ..."
Friction Fire at the Oregon Country Fair from an RF Engineer friend of mine.
posted by aleph at 6:58 PM on August 2, 2019 [1 favorite]


I read it as a kid (really) and didn’t get most of the subtext. It just seemed full of details with much less action than I expected. It was only later that I learned that was what whaling was like (and later still what human relations can be like). I’m not sure I could ever read it again knowing what I know about whales. Still a masterpiece, regardless.
posted by tommasz at 7:05 PM on August 2, 2019 [1 favorite]


Probably my favorite book. Read it once as a preteen and it took me all summer...read it again about three years ago and couldn't put it down. I hope someday one of my kids is enough of a literature nerd that we'll be able to read it aloud together.
posted by potrzebie at 7:11 PM on August 2, 2019 [1 favorite]


I wish he would have touched on what it means that his choice for the novel for our times contains so few women, as a consequence of being so much a product of its time and place.
posted by rewil at 7:20 PM on August 2, 2019 [3 favorites]


Yes, much as I love the book, it’s an absolute failure as a sort of universal novel or microcosm. It’s a masterpiece of men’s literature in the same way that Lawrence of Arabia is.

Then again, every book is a failure as a universal standard. One day I’d like to read Moby Dick and Little Women side by side and chapter by chapter to see how each reading informs the other.
posted by rikschell at 8:25 PM on August 2, 2019 [6 favorites]


One day in high school, my English teacher (a brilliant and kind woman who was one of the best educators I ever had) asked me what I'd been reading for pleasure. I said I had just started Moby Dick, and she asked what I thought of it. I said I was really surprised by how funny it was. She looked at me like I had two heads.

I guess maybe she was thinking of the book in total, and of course all I knew at that point was what I'd read already. But yes, dammit, it was funny. And anyway I feel a little vindicated tonight knowing other people think so too.
posted by penduluum at 8:30 PM on August 2, 2019 [2 favorites]


inspired artists, writers, performers and film-makers from Frank Stella to Jackson Pollock, Led Zeppelin to Laurie Anderson, Orson Welles, Sylvia Plath

So, here's a VHS rip of a full performance of Songs And Stories From Moby Dick, Laurie Anderson's performance art piece based on the novel. Also some Q&A with Laurie and others about the piece (Part 1, Part 2 [under 20 min]) Also Laurie's Program Notes from the show program.

I didn't get to see this particular production, which saddens me as I have seen many Laurie tours across the decades. But I read a lot about it at the time.

I read Moby Dick as 10th grade assigned reading in AP English Class (10th Grade was American Literature, 11th Grade was British Literature, 12th Grade was World Literature. Spiral curriculum.) I found it fascinating, but didn't understand much of it. I wrote a paper and got a score that didn't fail. I should re-read it again as an adult.

When I read the full-length version of Les Miserables, it sort of reminded me of Moby Dick, with the way it digresses into Whale Information for #reasons... In Les Miserables there are many instances of which this is a perfect instance -- Valjean is on the run from Javert. He's running down alleys. He's seeking an escape. He finds a wall he can climb and he jumps down into the yard of an Abbey.

Here are now 150 pages on the history of this Abbey.
posted by hippybear at 9:09 PM on August 2, 2019 [8 favorites]


Typee (my favorite Melville novel)

How a Voyage to French Polynesia Set Herman Melville on the Course to Write ‘Moby-Dick’ by William T. Vollmann! :P
posted by kliuless at 12:21 AM on August 3, 2019 [2 favorites]


I haven't read Moby Dick, but I had the experience everyone is talking about here with Kafka. I thought Kafka was hilarious, and the people I told that seemed to think I was reading him wrong.
posted by xammerboy at 3:12 AM on August 3, 2019 [4 favorites]


I noticed that when I re-read The Trial. I think, the first time I read it, my mindset was: I am Serious Reader. This is Serious Book. But there are many moments that are laugh-out-loud funny.
posted by thelonius at 3:25 AM on August 3, 2019


It's the typical American novel from the George W. Bush era. A violent man has a confusing revenge fantasy against a cheap source of oil.
posted by DreamerFi at 4:21 AM on August 3, 2019 [4 favorites]


It's the typical American novel from the George W. Bush era. A violent man has a confusing revenge fantasy against a cheap source of oil.

And the text itself is oddly prescient about that very reading, even:
And, doubtless, my going on this whaling voyage formed part of the grand programme of Providence that was drawn up a long time ago. It came in as a sort of brief interlude and solo between more extensive performances. I take it that this part of the bill must have run something like this :

' Grand Contested Election for the Presidency of the United States.

' WHALING VOYAGE BY ONE ISHMAEL.

1 BLOODY BATTLE IN AFGHANISTAN.'

Though I cannot tell why it was exactly that those stage managers, the Fates, put me down for this shabby part of a whaling voyage, when others were set down for magnificent parts in high tragedies, and short and easy parts in genteel comedies, and jolly parts in farces though I cannot tell why this was exactly..."
posted by Joey Buttafoucault at 8:04 AM on August 3, 2019 [3 favorites]


I too need to re-read Moby-Dick.

From the "musical" link:
In fact, carping over the integrity of “Moby-Dick” is useless — it has already been made into a musical, and a successful one in its time. “Moby-Dick: A Whale of A Tale” was produced by theater mogul Cameron Mackintosh on the West End in 1990, with all the innuendo, cross-dressing, and teenagers that the 2019 version plans to avoid. Panned by critics but popular with audiences, that splashy, sexy “Moby-Dick” ultimately aimed for the same horizon as Malloy’s, which is bound for success because it is not a musical adaptation of the novel, but a musical interrogation of it.
I saw that show and I can say: it was't very popular with me. "Successful" here is probably a bit rose-tinted: I remember it closing fairly quickly and indeed the Wikipedia article says it ran for only 4 months.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 8:55 AM on August 3, 2019


I saw the "Excerpts from Moby Dick" at the museum and it reminded me that I'd planned to reread Moby Dick this summer--read it without skimming through the whale encyclopedia bits. I've been told that they are the best parts. I've been told by many people that they are the best parts and those people will be receiving disgruntled letters from me if this turns out to be false.
posted by betweenthebars at 11:27 AM on August 3, 2019 [2 favorites]


I want to like Melville but my now-deceased father-in-law was a known Melville scholar and a collector of first editions. When he died, turned out he donated all of those goddamned first editions to the Melville Society and those bastards didn't waste a hot second flying to California from Massachusetts to swoop in and box up everything, leaving us devastated by grief and dealing with his estate.

So on principle, I can't like Melville because those people were callous bloodsucking assholes.
posted by yes I said yes I will Yes at 3:28 PM on August 3, 2019 [1 favorite]


I adored Moby-Dick from the first time I read it. When I saw an operatic version of Billy Budd on PBS as a college student, I was bowled over by the barely-even-subtext of the villainous romance. As a straight woman, I often wonder if I should have been influenced by more female authors than I was. The maleness of Melville was bright and bracing. I felt men were glorious and grand and free.

I wish I could recommend Ahab's Wife, but I'm afraid it was a Mary Sue, if a very well-researched and fleshed-out one.
posted by Countess Elena at 3:58 PM on August 3, 2019 [1 favorite]


I missed Melville in high school.

I discovered him during a wild class at university. "Madness, Meaninglessness, and Deviant Sexuality" was a riot. We burned through Sophocles, Genet, Mann, and Faulkner, then took two weeks with _Moby-Dick_. I was astonished. The thing felt like a 1960s experimental novel hurled a century into the past.

The prof cautioned me about doing an essay on the novel. He told me he tried to write a thesis on it, but the book kept... pushing back, fighting him at every step, warping his understanding. He needed a year of analysis to recover.

Naturally I tried to write a paper. And the same damn thing happened to me. I gave up and wrote about a Vonnegut novel instead.

The experience pushed me to explore Melville's later books. _Pierre_ was a weird fusion of Gothic and satire. _The Confidence-Man_ read like experimental theater.

I went on to do grad school in Brit lit, and the program frowned on us exploring anything beyond the UK (got chastised for trying a bit of Charles Brockden Brown in my dissertation). But I taught Melville whenever I could. Won the hearts of Americanists in my department by teaching Moby-Dick. Nearly caused a riot in my novel seminar with Confidence-Man.

Meanwhile, I took to reading extracts (Supplied by a Sub-Sub-Librarian) to my children as they grew up. I reread chunks every month to myself, or aloud to, well, just anyone.

Thank you, you astonishing genius.
posted by doctornemo at 5:55 PM on August 3, 2019 [2 favorites]


I've listened to the Frank Muller reading about 18 times, and I'm not sure I could read the book again. Muller's reading is so subtle, and changes over time & chapter, like the seasons. It's 4am, & I just woke up enough to hear, "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."

Should I pick something else, or just let Moby Dick start again?
posted by sneebler at 8:02 PM on August 3, 2019


I like the book but I love The Big Read version. I tend to read quickly so having the book narrated gives the language more room to breathe and it really draws you in.
posted by slimepuppy at 11:41 AM on August 4, 2019


I started Moby Dick once, after downloading a bunch of free out-of-copyright books onto my kindle, and I confess: I got about 15 pages in, realized that in all that time nothing had actually happened beyond the narrator musing about various topics, and then switched to something else. I was just looking for more of a narrative. But I've always thought I'd give it another shot someday. Maybe now is the time.
posted by showbiz_liz at 12:17 PM on August 5, 2019


I was surprised by the pop-up book, as it's not the pop-up book I know, by the redoubtable Sam Ita. So, you have your choice of Moby Dick pop-up books.
posted by Capt. Renault at 8:36 PM on August 5, 2019


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