Rhett's Reviews > The Whale: In Search of the Giants of the Sea

The Whale by Philip Hoare
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Dec 17, 14

Read from December 19 to 26, 2011

On the one hand, Philip Hoare is into Moby-Dick, and does a good deal of meditation on the greatest literary achievement of this hemisphere. I tip my hat to him for his excellent reading.

On the other, I feel more sympathy with Ishmael's virile lust for blood than Hoare's reproach of man for hunting the whale nearly to extinction. I don't know how to express it without sounding like Ernest Hemingway or José Ortega y Gasset, but it seems to me an equal expression of my humanity to kill a mighty animal as it is to preserve it from extinction. We are the apex predator of this planet, and maybe Melville's whaling is only appealing in a world where the prey is equally capable of destroying you as you are of it. Hoare lives in a world of grenade harpoons and speedboats, a world where the whale deserves our pity rather than our fear.
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