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Moby-Dick - Reread > Background, Resources, and Misc.

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message 1: by David (last edited Jul 03, 2018 09:50PM) (new)

David | 2738 comments This topic is for sharing Moby-Dick resources and discussion background and context. Here are a few to get it started.

Audio
The Moby-Dick Big Read: Free
an online version of Melville’s magisterial tome: each of its 135 chapters read out aloud, by a mixture of the celebrated and the unknown, to be broadcast online in a sequence of 135 downloads, publicly and freely accessible.

Books
Project Gutenberg: https://www.gutenberg.org/files/2701/...
Power Moby-Dick: The Online Annotation Moby-Dick with notes to help the reader
Why Read Moby-Dick? by Nathaniel Philbrick
In the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex by Nathaniel Philbrick

Audio Lectures
(Audible) The Modern Scholar Moby Dick America's Epic by Timothy B. Shutt

Wikipedia (spoilers)
Moby-Dick
Herman Melville

Father Mapple's Sermon from the 1956 film adaptation
http://www.criticalcommons.org/Member...
Pretty close to the book and its Orson Wells. You can't go wrong. Its worth a listen.


message 2: by Todd (last edited Jul 05, 2018 07:10AM) (new)

Todd Glaeser | 21 comments Something that may be of interest to some of the group...

Laurie Anderson 1999 - Songs and Stories from Moby Dick (Full Performance)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RWGRr...

Laurie Anderson: Songs And Stories From Moby Dick – Variety
https://variety.com/1999/music/review...

Here are the program notes Laurie has written for Songs and Stories from Moby Dick - Laurie Anderson ©1999
http://www.jimdavies.org/laurie-ander...


message 3: by Greg (last edited Jul 04, 2018 11:08PM) (new)

Greg | 98 comments Todd wrote: "Something that may be of interest to some of the group...

Laurie Anderson 1999 - Songs and Stories from Moby Dick (Full Performance)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RWGRr...

Laurie Anderson: Song..."


She's a unique, fascinating, and very odd artist! I would've loved to have seen this in person, though based on her other work, I'm assuming it will be an oblique riff on the original material.

It could be just me, but I'm having trouble getting some of your links to work Todd. Maybe double check them if you get a chance.

Thanks for the post! The snippet I saw on youtube of her performing the violin against the giant, moving sea projection looks arresting - I feel sure I would've loved seeing the piece live.


message 4: by Todd (new)

Todd Glaeser | 21 comments I fixed the links. They got cut when I transferred them to the correct posting. I hope they work for you now and glad that they are of interest to you.


message 5: by Greg (new)

Greg | 98 comments Todd wrote: "I fixed the links. They got cut when I transferred them to the correct posting. I hope they work for you now and glad that they are of interest to you."

Thanks Todd!


message 7: by Lily (last edited Jul 06, 2018 08:45AM) (new)

Lily (joy1) | 5062 comments David wrote: "Its true! : How Did Starbucks Coffee Get Its Name?"

LOL! Grab your cuppa joe (even if the first mate never did) and join the fun!?

(You all have gotten this one off to a rollicking start! Smooth sailing ahead?)


message 8: by David (new)

David | 2738 comments All things Melville: The Melville Society


message 10: by Adelle (new)

Adelle | 3130 comments Lily wrote: "David wrote: "Its true! : How Did Starbucks Coffee Get Its Name?"

LOL! Grab your cuppa joe (even if the first mate never did) and join the fun!?

(You all have gotten this one off to a rollicking..."


We don't KNOW the first mate never drank coffee... What we know is that Melville didn't mention it.

I've never written a tome such as Moby Dick, but many a letter I've writ whilst drinking coffee without ever mentioning it in my correspondence.

:-)


message 11: by Lily (new)

Lily (joy1) | 5062 comments Adelle wrote: "We don't KNOW the first mate never drank coffee... What we know is that Melville didn't mention it. ..."

You sent me history digging, but not far enough to determine whether workers on ships drank coffee from those beans they hauled around the world. Years ago I found David Liss's The Coffee Trader a fun read, touching on the economic bubble around coffee that developed in the Netherlands. Tonight, of the two I browsed, this seems the more interesting timeline: http://brewminate.com/a-timeline-and-...

I will now be watching to see what, if much at all, Melville says about the gastronomic habits of his characters!


message 12: by Adelle (new)

Adelle | 3130 comments Thanks, Lily! I went searching too. Found a couple of sites that list coffee:

https://www.whalingmuseum.org/learn/r...


message 13: by Adelle (new)

Adelle | 3130 comments "they used molasses to sweeten their coffee or tea"


message 14: by Adelle (new)

Adelle | 3130 comments (Having an issue with editing... Apologies for multiple posts.)

I also found that fresh water was scarce and that the dirtt water was sometimes mixed with lemon juice or boiled and then tea or coffee added...to help improve the taste of the water.


message 15: by David (new)

David | 2738 comments Adelle wrote: "Thanks, Lily! I went searching too. Found a couple of sites that list coffee:

https://www.whalingmuseum.org/learn/r..."


I was surprised to read of families on whalers from that link,
A scholar has identified several hundred seagoing wives. Many preferred the discomforts of life at sea to years of separation.
.


message 16: by Adelle (new)

Adelle | 3130 comments David wrote: "Adelle wrote: "Thanks, Lily! I went searching too. Found a couple of sites that list coffee:

https://www.whalingmuseum.org/learn/r..."

I ..."


I went back to the link and read further some of the details of life on board ship. What a ... challenging ... environment. Brought home to me how in many ways we are fortunate in our lives today.


message 17: by David (new)


message 18: by Tamara (new)

Tamara Agha-Jaffar | 1738 comments David wrote: "Warning: may contain some spoilers

Examining the Myth of Narcissus and its Role in Moby-Dick"


I felt I was back in graduate school :)

Interesting article with some thought-provoking insights. Thanks for posting it.


message 19: by Kesef (new)

Kesef | 4 comments here's a general course on American Literature, fascinating in itself, with five lectures on Moby Dick.
I found the lecturer to be very clear and informative. Enjoy!
https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/c...


message 20: by Xan (new)

Xan  Shadowflutter (shadowflutter) | 400 comments Thanks, Kesef. Great find.


message 21: by Lily (new)

Lily (joy1) | 5062 comments "Thorkill-Hake's carved buckler or bedstead."

Melville, Herman. Moby-Dick. (Chapter 16, p. 46). Neeland Media LLC. Kindle Edition.

In pursuing the above allusion (which had reminded me of the bed of Oedipus and Penelope, peaking my curiosity), I found the following source which may be of interest to others here:

The American Discovery of the Norse: An Episode in Nineteenth-century ...
By Erik Ingvar Thurin
https://books.google.com/books?id=5Ce...

It describes some of the influences of Norse seagoing lore on Melville. I don't recall encountering Njal's Saga previously. Apparently the Norseman Thorkel Haka, nicknamed "The Braggart," had his exploits carved on his furniture. (Melville then shifts the decorative comparison to that of the apparel of an Ethiopian emperor.)


message 22: by David (last edited Jul 26, 2018 08:01PM) (new)

David | 2738 comments If you would like a visual aid for Chapter 32. Cetology I found these Moby Dick Cetology Prints


message 23: by Lily (new)

Lily (joy1) | 5062 comments David wrote: "If you would like a visual aid for Chapter 32. Cetology I found these Moby Dick Cetology Prints"

Thanks, David. These prints remind me once again how minuscule can be one's own knowledge -- I know so little about animals of the ocean.


message 24: by Lily (last edited Jul 27, 2018 12:00PM) (new)

Lily (joy1) | 5062 comments A bit of the morning's explorations:

"Thou who didst pick up Andrew Jackson from the pebbles; who didst hurl him upon a war-horse; who didst thunder him higher than a throne! Thou who, in all Thy mighty, earthly marchings, ever cullest Thy selectest champions from the kingly commons; ..." Chap. 26, p. 76 Kindle

See the log here: http://newjacksonianblog.blogspot.com...

"Andrew Jackson as the Embodiment of the American Spirit" --

Whole thing felt very relevant to 2018 U.S. politics.


message 25: by Lily (last edited Jul 27, 2018 12:01PM) (new)

Lily (joy1) | 5062 comments "...thou great democratic God! who didst not refuse to the swart convict, Bunyan, the pale, poetic pearl..." Chap. 26, p. 76 Kindle

I had to assure myself this was the Bunyan of The Pilgrim's Progress (1678, first edition). Still uncertain of the meaning of "pale, poetic pearl." But I did learn John Bunyan spent some twelve years in jail for refusing to forego preaching in "nonconformist" pulpits.

"He is remembered in the Church of England with a Lesser Festival on 30 August, and on the liturgical calendar of the United States Episcopal Church on 29 August." Wikipedia entry

"In English church history, a nonconformist was a Protestant who did not "conform" to the governance and usages of the established Church of England." Wikipedia.

Note the reference to Watts's hymns: "One influential nonconformist minister was Matthew Henry, who beginning in 1710 published his multi-volume Commentary that is still used and available in the 21st century. Isaac Watts is an equally recognized nonconformist minister whose hymns are still sung by Christians worldwide." Also Wikipedia.


message 26: by Lily (last edited Jul 27, 2018 01:50PM) (new)

Lily (joy1) | 5062 comments Haven't let go of searching for the arcane yet today:

"Captain George Vancouver (22 June 1757 – 10 May 1798) was a British officer of the Royal Navy, best known for his 1791–95 expedition, which explored and charted North America's northwestern Pacific Coast regions, including the coasts of contemporary Alaska, British Columbia, Washington, and Oregon. He also explored the Hawaiian Islands and the southwest coast of Australia.

"In Canada, Vancouver Island and the city of Vancouver are named for him, as are Vancouver, Washington, in the United States, Mount Vancouver on the Yukon/Alaska border, and New Zealand's sixth highest mountain."

"The Admiralty instructed Vancouver to publish a narrative of his voyage which he started to write in early 1796 in Petersham. At the time of his death the manuscript covered the period up to mid-1795. The work, A Voyage of Discovery to the North Pacific Ocean; And Round the World, was completed by his brother John and published in three volumes in the autumn of 1798.. A second edition was published in 1801 in six volumes.

"A modern annotated edition (1984) by W. Kaye Lamb was renamed Voyage of George Vancouver 1791-1795, and published in four volumes by the Hakluyt Society of London, England. " Wikipedia

(The Goodreads links may be considered somewhat deceptive. It looks to me as if a Google Books copy may be available online. Melville jests at Vancouver's verbosity. Of course, the name and the linkages are obvious to anyone familiar with U.S.-Canada geography, but Capt. Vancouver is not a historical figure I recall studying.)


message 27: by Lily (new)

Lily (joy1) | 5062 comments Another seaborne explorer (Note the period. Moby Dick was published 1851.):

Baron Ivan Fyodorovich Kruzenshtern (Russian: Ива́н Фёдорович Крузенште́рн; 10 October 1770 – 12 August 1846), born as Adam Johann Ritter von Krusenstern, was a Russian admiral and explorer of Baltic German descent, who led the first Russian circumnavigation of the globe.

The Wiki article is short, but I found it fun to scan: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adam_Jo...


message 28: by Rafael (new)

Rafael da Silva (morfindel) | 337 comments Thanks, Lily! Great info. I never heard about George Vancouver. He seems to had achieved more than James Cook and, at least in Brazil, he is unknown. I always thought that Vancouver was an word of french origin.


message 29: by Adelle (new)

Adelle | 3130 comments Liked this review of a book on Melville. Found it searching for something on symbolic meaning of pyramids and Melville.
Contains spoilers.

https://newrepublic.com/article/12238...


message 30: by David (new)

David | 2738 comments Moderator's Exhortation (with apologies to Chapter 48)
"Post, post, my fine hearts-alive; post, my children; post, my little ones," drawlingly and soothingly sighed Moderator Dave to his fellow members in Classics and the Western Canon, some of whom still showed signs of uneasiness. "Why don't you break your backbones, my members? What is it you stare at? Those lurkers in our group? Tut! They are only more readers come to help us—never mind from where—the more the merrier. post, then, do post; never mind the brimstone—lurkers are good fellows enough. So, so; there you are now; that's the comment for a thousand pounds; that's the insight to sweep the stakes! Hurrah for great conversion and gold cup of discussion oil, my heroes! Three cheers, readers—all hearts alive! Easy, easy; don't be in a hurry—don't be in a hurry. Why don't you snap your keyboards, you rascals? Bite something, you dogs! So, so, so, then:—softly, softly! That's it—that's it! long and strong. Give way there, give way! The devil fetch ye, ye ragamuffin rapscallions; ye are all asleep. Stop snoring, ye sleepers, and post. post, will ye? post, can't ye? post, won't ye? Why in the name of gudgeons and ginger-cakes don't ye post?—post and break something! post, and start your eyes out! Here!" whipping out the sharp knife from his girdle; "every mother's son and daughter of ye draw his cell phone, and post with the stylus between your teeth. That's it—that's it. Now ye do something; that looks like it, my steel-bits. Start her—start her, my page-turners! Start her, book-markers!


message 31: by Adelle (new)

Adelle | 3130 comments David wrote: "Moderator's Exhortation (with apologies to Chapter 48)
"Post, post, my fine hearts-alive; post, my children; post, my little ones," drawlingly and soothingly sighed Moderator Dave to his fellow mem..."


Lol. Nicely done!


message 32: by Lily (new)

Lily (joy1) | 5062 comments Adelle wrote: "David wrote: "Moderator's Exhortation (with apologies to Chapter 48) "Post, post, my fine hearts-alive; post, my children; post, my little ones," ...Lol. Nicely done! "

Agreed! Very clever! On top of all the work you do setting up the discussions, David!


message 33: by Sue (new)

Sue Pit (cybee) | 329 comments Love it, David! The snapping of keyboards, the posting with stylus between one's gnarly teeth! Brilliant! While the waves of daily life rage on, slapping us about, we must keep on with the grand chase of truth and the sharing of thoughts with our kindred and not so kindred souls. Read on! Share on!


message 34: by Susan (new)

Susan | 528 comments Some real life sites with a Moby Dick connection:

New Bedford Seaman’s Chapel visited by Ishmael, Queequeg, and Melville:
https://www.whalingmuseum.org/about-s...

Arrowhead, house where Moby Dick was written in the Berkshires:
http://berkshirehistory.org/herman-me...

Neat gig for the Arrowhead writer in residence using Melville’s study and desk:
http://berkshirehistory.org/herman-me...

“Massachusetts’ highest peak, at 3,941 feet, Mt. Greylock served two purposes for Melville. He chose the Arrowhead home because of its views of the mountain and also hiked and camped the area surrounding the mountain throughout his time here in the county. The Arrowhead view is also said to have reminded Melville as the cresting back of a whale – giving Moby Dick a physical presence in Melville’s life


message 35: by Susan (new)

Susan | 528 comments David wrote: "Moderator's Exhortation (with apologies to Chapter 48)
"Post, post, my fine hearts-alive; post, my children; post, my little ones," drawlingly and soothingly sighed Moderator Dave to his fellow mem..."


Excellent! Now that I caught up to Chapter 48, I can really appreciate how clever this is


message 36: by David (new)

David | 2738 comments From 2014. The last one:
VIDEO: Historic Charles W. Morgan whaleship comes home
The Charles W. Morgan is the last of an American whaling fleet that numbered more than 2,700 vessels. Built and launched in 1841, the Morgan is now America’s oldest commercial ship still afloat – only the USS Constitution is older.

The little test cruise for a day looks fun, but try to imagine a 3 year whaling voyage on that.


message 37: by Susan (last edited Aug 12, 2018 03:00PM) (new)

Susan | 528 comments David wrote: The little test cruise for a day looks fun, but try to imagine a 3 year whaling voyage on that.

And they even had sea shanties! Gives a nice idea of the size of decks, rigging, etc.

Here’s another video that shows the Morgan looking for whales (for sightseeing.). After reading Chapter 48, I liked seeing how the boats were carried and lowered, how far the men had to slid down to get into the boats, etc. and of course the whale is a bonus ;)
https://youtu.be/QBn9I8K9tZg


message 38: by Lily (new)

Lily (joy1) | 5062 comments Susan wrote: "David wrote: The little test cruise for a day looks fun, but try to imagine a 3 year whaling voyage on that.

And they even had sea shanties! Gives a nice idea of the size of decks, rigging, etc. ..."


I loved the video which followed, where they freed the young whale from a net and she went on to give an exuberant display of her freedom. Thanks, Susan.


message 39: by Lily (new)

Lily (joy1) | 5062 comments David wrote: "From 2014. The last one:
VIDEO: Historic Charles W. Morgan whaleship comes home
The Charles W. Morgan is the last of an American whaling fleet that numbered more than 2,700 vessels. Built and launc..."


It wasn't clear to me whether the Morgan has now permanently returned to New Bedford or whether it still has a berth at Mystic...oh, did you say this piece was from 2014? Still not clear, but hard to realize how many years it has been since attended a reading of MB on board CWM!


message 40: by Gayle (new)

Gayle Warren | 5 comments Susan wrote: "Some real life sites with a Moby Dick connection:

New Bedford Seaman’s Chapel visited by Ishmael, Queequeg, and Melville:
https://www.whalingmuseum.org/about-s...

Arrowhead, house wher..."

Thanks Susan for these references. As I play catch-up, the background info really helps inspire my reading.
Gayle


message 41: by Ashley (new)

Ashley Adams | 328 comments I've been reading through the archive files for the first group read of Moby-Dick. At one point Adelle suggested "Whales Weep Not!" by D. H. Lawrence

And now I am reading whale erotica.
That's different.

Thanks Adelle, (and DH Lawrence), for adding such variety to my life. : )


message 42: by Susan (new)

Susan | 528 comments **Spoiler alert**

Just saw this review of a new sequel to Moby Dick, which sounds interesting: http://www.washingtonindependentrevie...


message 43: by Kerstin (new)

Kerstin | 600 comments In this novel the narrator seems to shift multiple times as Tamara has consistently pointed out. Reading this book for the first time, and probably mostly for contents, how do I hone my reading to catch these kinds of details?


message 44: by Tamara (last edited Sep 07, 2018 07:23PM) (new)

Tamara Agha-Jaffar | 1738 comments Kerstin wrote: "In this novel the narrator seems to shift multiple times as Tamara has consistently pointed out. Reading this book for the first time, and probably mostly for contents, how do I hone my reading to ..."

Kerstin, I think it just takes practice and knowing what to look for as you read. I was an English professor for a number of years so I have had more years of practice than I care to remember.

First person point of view is always a little tricky because, technically speaking, you can't get inside another person's mind. You can only get inside the narrator's perception of what the other person is thinking--which may or may not be accurate because our narrator may not be reliable.

In this case, MD begins with Ishmael's point of view: "Call me Ishmael." This sets up expectations on the part of the reader--the expectation that we will see and understand events through Ishmael's lens. We may not like his lens (or his character) and we may not agree with his assessment of events and people. But we expect to see the world through his set of eyes.

What we don't expect is to be given access to someone else's internal thought processes because we know our first person narrator cannot possibly have unfiltered access to another person's thinking. When that happens, it means there is a shift in point of view. These shifts bonk me on the head and I immediately ask why is there a shift? I look for a reason, and if I find one, all's well with the world.

I don't necessarily look for shifts any more than I used to look for unnecessary shifts in tenses, pronouns, etc. etc. in student writing. They just leap off the page at me. And as I said earlier, that just comes with practice and training.

I have no doubt that if you focus on Ishmael as the narrator, you will begin to recognize a shift in pt. of view whenever our narrator says something or describes something that Ishmael cannot possibly know unless he happened to crawl inside someone's mind or had a drone hovering above a scene in which he was noticeably absent. And before you know it, for better or worse, all these shift will bonk you on the head, too!

Sorry for the length of my response. But it's an important question and deserved my best attempt to answer it. I hope this helps.


message 45: by Kerstin (new)

Kerstin | 600 comments Yes it does, and thank you!
My days of English classes are well in the past, and I find I have more interest now to get deeper into the text than I did back then.


message 46: by Susan (new)

Susan | 528 comments I just started reading In the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex by Nathaniel Philbrick about the real life story that played a role in inspiring Moby Dick. Lots of fascinating details about Nantucket and whaling ships so far. For example:

“Some green hands were so naive and poorly educated that they insisted on the longest lay possible, erroneously thinking the higher number meant higher pay. The owners were only too willing to grant their wishes.” ,!!


message 48: by Bryan--The Bee’s Knees (last edited Sep 23, 2018 06:18PM) (new)

Bryan--The Bee’s Knees (theindefatigablebertmcguinn) | 304 comments Continuing to read through The Norton Critical Edition of MD, I came across some letters written by Melville to Hawthorne. This paragraph in particular stuck out:

There is the grand truth about Nathaniel Hawthorne. He says NO! in thunder; but the Devil himself cannot make him say yes. For all men who say yes, lie; and all men who say no,--why, they are in the happy condition of judicious, unencumbered travelers in Europe; they cross the frontiers into Eternity with nothing but a carpet-bag,--that is to say, the Ego. Whereas those yes-gentry, they travel with heaps of baggage, and, damn them! they will never get through the Custom House.

After reading this, I went back to the carpet-bag chapter. I have to admit that when we were discussing this chapter, I thought people were reading too much into the carpet-bag itself, but now it seems pretty apparent they weren't.


message 49: by Christopher (new)

Christopher (Donut) | 537 comments Bryan wrote: "Continuing to read through The Norton Critical Edition of MD, I came across some letters written by Melville to Hawthorne. This paragraph in particular stuck out:

There is the grand truth about Na..."


Off topic, but Leslie Fiedler liked this passage so much he used it for the title of his second book:

No! In Thunder


message 50: by Kerstin (new)

Kerstin | 600 comments Bryan wrote: "they cross the frontiers into Eternity with nothing but a carpet-bag,--that is to say, the Ego."

How interesting! Like you I thought we were going a bit over-board with the interpretations.


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