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Moby-Dick or, the Whale
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Archived > Moby Dick - Week 1 (July/August 2016)

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Rose Rocha dos Santos (roserocha) | 192 comments Hi, everyone!

Today we start our discussion about Moby Dick!

This week's reading is about: Chapters 1 - 15

Feel free to post your thoughts! :)

Tobias Langhoff (tobiasvl) | 10 comments What struck me when I read the book is that these chapters, all taking place even before we meet the Pequod and her crew, are pretty funny! Ishmael and Queequeg's adventures. Queequeg himself is obviously a caricature of cannibalistic heathens, and the character would look pretty racist today, but I'm surprised at how Melville seems to defy the casual racism of his time and make Ishmael confront his ill-founded prejudices.

John (johnjsiefring) Tobias, yeah, I agree that the introduction is comical....can't help but wonder is it intentional or is Melville a caricature of his own self?

Dianne | 0 comments I'm sticking with the reading schedule for this book since I'm reading a lot at one time right now and just finished the first week's reading. I'm amazed at how much I remember from when I last read this at 16, it's so nice to get back into this book. I don't think Ishmael is particularly racist, he is continually espousing Queequeg's merits and his reservations seem to primarily stem from his cannibalism, which, uh, I think most of us would have a problem with! I am loving the Norton annotated version of this book, which not only has extensive notes but a great deal of supplemental material. I think in the beginning of the book Melville does such a great job of entertaining, with a personal tone to the narrative, from the very first line of "Call me Ishmael," and throughout with the bizarre stories and compelling characters, that I am surprised this was not more of a commercial success when it was published.

John (johnjsiefring) How nice to come back to Moby Dick. I had forgotten how quickly Melville draws the reader into an intimate conversation.....the first paragraph. It reminds me of Coleridge. I'm glad we voted for this!

message 6: by Megan (new)

Megan I was about to give up reading this as I thought there is no way I'd get it finished in one month because it is soo long. But Im glad it isn't Im only on chapter 3 so i'll play catch up.

Matt (mmullerm) Hang in there, Megan. I'm having the same issues as you while reading this book, but I'm reading it in small doses. Some of Melville's descriptions are the best I've ever read.

message 8: by Megan (new)

Megan Matt wrote: "Hang in there, Megan. I'm having the same issues as you while reading this book, but I'm reading it in small doses. Some of Melville's descriptions are the best I've ever read."

I'm sure i will like the story but I feel like it's drawn out a bit on decriptions. Hopefully i get into it.

Kimberly | 145 comments Finished week 1's reading a few days ago and forgot to post my thoughts. ;) :) I remember some of the book, but not a lot. I read it only about 5 years ago, but I read a lot of books, and this one was actually kind of hard to stick with. I think that's why I don't remember it very much.

I found it interesting that the preacher talked about Jonah and the whale. He added a bit extra (the sailors disliking Jonah immediately is not mentioned in the Bible), but I wonder if Melville chose this particular story for a specific reason. Other than it being about a man being swallowed by a whale... Maybe it'll be important later in the book. ;)

Queequeg is a very interesting character so far. He's royalty in his own country, but left to explore the world. He is very "backward" in many ways, yet is such a decent human being. He saves a mans life even after the man mocked him for being a cannibal. Even Ishmael points out, "but, the truth is, these savages have an innate sense of delicacy, say what you will; it is marvelous how essentially polite they are." (pg 27)

I noticed that Melville seems to have a dislike of Christianity. Many times his comments are disparaging of Christianity, or unfavorable towards Christians. Ishmael would rather have a pagan friend than a Christian friend, too. I think I should read up on Melville himself and see what his life was like. :)

Ok, I think that's it for now. Oh, I was going to say that I'm not sure if Ishmael is necessarily a racist, but he definitely has some prejudices. But, he's learning that he can't make assumptions about anybody based on those prejudices.

message 10: by Matt (new) - rated it 3 stars

Matt (mmullerm) Interesting thoughts about Christianity in the book Kimberly. I will read more closely going forward with this in mind.

Tobias Langhoff (tobiasvl) | 10 comments The British edition of the book actually censored a lot of sacrilegious passages.

Nicole Tobias, that's very interesting! Do you know if they still censor they're editions? I'm assuming the censorship was a while back ...

Tobias Langhoff (tobiasvl) | 10 comments This was when the book was first released in 1851! I have never seen a censored copy. It was actually first released in England for a few reasons, and that version was censored, before the version we know came out in the US a month later or so.

Tobias Langhoff (tobiasvl) | 10 comments You can read some stuff about it here on Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moby-Di...

message 15: by Michelle (new)

Michelle (mich2689) | 246 comments The first few chapters were slow to get through but it's getting better now. I too agree that Queequeg is an interesting character.

message 16: by Dmreichle (new)

Dmreichle | 21 comments I had heard of Moby Dick, of course, but somehow missed reading it or even really knowing much but the very basic story. I really struggled through the first few chapters. As a rule, I don't like overly descriptive literature, and this certainly qualifies. I do admit it is beautifully written; it just isn't something I would generally choose to read for pleasure. However, after I got to the chapter with the sermon, I started to really enjoy it and "feel" the flow of the story's development. That was one of the best sermons I've read lol. I plan to take this on my vacation in August, when I have plenty of uninterrupted time to catch up.

Marta (gezemice) | 214 comments I have really enjoyed the beginning, especially Ishmael and Queequeg's friendship.

Luella Tobias and John I was surprised too at how laugh at loud funny that was. I didn't find this description of Queequeg too prejudiced but then again I just finished Uncle Toms Cabin so maybe this seems mild in comparison

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