Mark's Reviews > Herman Melville's Moby-Dick
Herman Melville's Moby-Dick (Bloom's Notes)
by Harold Bloom
by Harold Bloom
Having recently re-read (again) MOBY DICK, I was jonesing for a little academic analysis, and the local library offered up this collection, an anthology of eight essays spanning the 20th century and its various "schools" and critical approaches: biographical, Freudian, formalist, historical, rhetorical, etc. The range of essays provides a decent overview of the various approaches to America's greatest novel, and they provided me with some fresh insights (as well as a reminder of how tiresome academic writing can be at times). Editor Harold Bloom's Introduction is actually the strongest piece in the book (he probably whipped it off before his morning coffee), placing MOBY DICK in the context of Melville's other work to demonstrate similar themes but also point how different, and remarkable, this masterpiece is. (Though I do feel Bloom overdoes the "Gnosticism" stuff a bit.) Bloom gets bonus points for calling up Faulkner's observation that Ahab's fate is "a sort of Golgotha of the heart become immutable as bronze in the sonority of its plunging ruin," and near the end of the essay he highlights a line from the novel that may be the key to its interpretation (if indeed there is a key, and if the novel can even be interpreted). From, (of course), Chapter 42, "The Whiteness of the Whale": "Though in many of its aspects this visible world seems formed in love, the invisible spheres were formed in fright."
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