Hosted by Ti at Book Chatter
Moby Dick by Herman Melville (1851)
707 pages, Barnes&Nobles Classic
Introduction by Carl F. Hovde
I'm about 150 pages in, 100 pages behind the group. I joined last week and got my book this week but I will be up to them soon. Bloggiesta took my full attention since Thursday night, I needed to do it, but my reading went out the window.
Ishmael and Queequeg are on the ship and sailing now at this point. It's obvious from the start that poor Ishmael has little or no idea of what whaling is really like, despite all the stories and signs. Reminds me of childbirth-no one tells what it's really going to be like. Ahab is still a mystery 100 pages further along according to our group leader Ti's post today. I really look forward to when he finally opens up then. It takes me a moment to figure out what Ishmael is talking about sometimes, "orchard thieves" for example (Adam and Eve) but that's part of the fun. He sounds quite educated, at least in the sense of well read, referring to ancient Classics, mathematicians, the Bible etc. I wonder if there's more to him than experience in the merchant marines? Descriptions of what they ate and drank at the time are always fascinating, "pea coffee" for instance. Ishmael's knowledge of geography seems prodigious but he is a sailor. I love the humour in how Ishmael speaks and reacts to things. At the pub, "In rolled a wild set of mariners, like an eruption of bears in Labrador." Queequeg hasn't spoken much, I suspect that's his true nature and not just a language problem, but he's fascinating. Scary looking to most but steadfast in principle. I look forward to seeing them both in action and learning about whaling, at least as it was then, (although it's not much different today from what I've seen) and from a sailor's perspective.
You do need to concentrate when you read this book but I'm having a ball. Lots of words to look up in the dictionary, "arrantest taper", "immortal by brevet", "anxious gapnels", and others. There is a decent glossary of Nautical Terms, and sixteen pages of Explanatory Notes in the book, so many are explained. Included are maps, and detailed diagrams of the parts of ships, whales, and the weapons used in the pursuit of them. The Introduction is not to be missed, and there's a section of Extracts from other works appropriate to the theme of Moby Dick. Anyone who completes this novel will have quite an education under their belt. Don't let these extras intimidate you. You can always just read the text of the story, which is 600 pages and a bit and you won't regret finishing this book. At the very least it will be good for your self esteem.
I'm very glad I finally got around to this classic. If I'd known it was this much fun I'd have tried it sooner. Between thinking it was more for boys (as opposed to girls, I read adult literature as a kid ) and English majors spouting on about it's symbolism in the grand manner too many of them have, I thought it was not for me, maybe I wouldn't "get it" as they say. I've known for decades now that that was rubbish but just didn't get around to the book. Reading it along with a group is very encouraging. Best yet, a brand new copy arrived in this morning's mail; I now own a copy and don't have to worry about getting the library edition read on time. And I have a new Introduction to read as the library edition was A Penguin Classic, Introduction by Andrew Delbanco.
I will be posting every Monday about my progress throughout the reading of the book.
Have you read it? Tell us your thoughts? Have you thought about reading it? There's still time to join us for Moby Dick Monday, we're not too far along. Our hosts set the pace to read only four pages a day, easy enough for anyone. Any questions or aspects of the story you want to know about? Ask away. If you've reviewed it, leave a link, I'd love to read it.
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