Dear Readers,

I now consider this blog to be my Juvenelia. Have fun perusing the archives, and find me at my new haunt, here.

Friday, July 03, 2009

Moby Dick

Speaking of the Great American Novel.

This is a hard one to sum up... but I will try to scatter my disparate thoughts in hopes that there's a kernel of wisdom in there.

Moby Dick is notoriously lofty even though it's about a very dirty, corporeal thing--whaling--and indeed, a lot of it was dry and had to be muscled through, particularly the parts that get down into the nitty-gritty of whales, whaling, ships and all the traditions therein. Ishmael/Melville were big on refuting stereotypes and rumors, which must have abounded at the time.

However, the underlying story and Melville's use of language was as incredible and out there as I'd been told, ranging from Shakespearean to Bilblical with an authentic American touch. I adored the first third, in which we follow Ishmael (and his new BFF Queequeg) from New Bedford to Nantucket and out to sea. There were some incredibly memorable scenes, including one in a chowder house (Cod or Clam!) and of course, the sea-metaphor-laced sermon in the New England church. This first part was certainly awesome to read in Nantucket.

Then of course the final, gripping few chapters that bring the voyage of the Pequod to its fated end were devastatingly tragic and wonderful, with some incredible sentences that linger, melodically in the brain.

But what was most surprising about the book was the wit, humor, puns, philosophical musings and sly references tucked in everywhere by Melville, the former so much so that they made me chuckle. This was a pleasant gift hidden within the book's thick pages that makes me doubly glad I've finally tackled this beast of a novel!

1 comment:

  1. The problem with Moby Dick is that one is forced to read it before one is old enough to understand the wit, humor, puns, and philosophical musings. Must put this book on my to read list.