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Moby-Dick or, the Whale
This topic is about Moby-Dick or, the Whale
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Herman Melville Collection > Moby-Dick: LVIII - LXXXII (58 - 82) Spoilers

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Trisha | 492 comments I am a little behind, so I am hoping to catch up and post some a few comments. Anyone else this far yet??


Trisha | 492 comments I found the superstition surrounding the giant squid to be pretty interesting, and they have managed to catch two whales, but no signs of Moby Dick yet...still only rumours from other ships...the search continues...


Maggie | 125 comments I'm at chapter 73 now, and I have to say that, despite my initial criticisms, I'm starting to enjoy this book. I'm not sure if the first half was really that boring, or if it just wasn't what I was expecting. But now, instead of treating it as merely an action story, I'm thinking of it both as an exposition on whales and the whaling industry, and as the story of one particular whaling journey. Seen in that light the chapters that I initially thought were irrelevant become interesting. And really, there's so much that Melville teaches about the whaling industry and attitudes in that century, and it's really quite fascinating!

The action bit is starting to pick up too. I particularly enjoyed the other ships' stories. There's a fair bit of humour injected here and there too.


message 4: by Katy, New School Classics (new) - rated it 1 star

Katy (kathy_h) | 9692 comments Mod
Oh good to know. I am still reading slowly but surely getting closer.


message 5: by Bob, Short Story Classics (new) - rated it 1 star

Bob | 5009 comments Mod
When the action is on whaling or ship life the book is very good.


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Nargus | 567 comments I'm up to chapter 61 one now. The reality of what the book is about and whaling really hits you - whales being slaughtered, and apparently for their oil. A barbaric pursuit. I admit though, that there can be much to admire of Melville's writing, wit and philosophy, which entices the reader. Goes to show, you can really disagree with things in books but still read them.

Is anyone else having misgivings? I kinda feel guilty for enjoying reading this. Poor whales, so aggressively pursued and handled.


Pink | 6554 comments Ah yes, the descriptions of the poor whale being caught and killed! With all the adventures and whale descriptions I'd kind of forgotten the purpose of their voyage and the brutality of their mission.

I loved chapter 64 - Stubb's supper, in which Fleece delivered his sermon to the noisy sharks! I thought that was brilliant.


Bat-Cat | 1299 comments I agree with both of you, Nargus and Pink. Amid all my enjoyment of the book, I found that the descriptions of the brutality and slaughter of the whales not only sobering but also disgustingly hard to stomach. It makes me realize that, in certain ways, things have not changed all that much with regard to cruelty toward animals. I find that very sad.


Phil J | 627 comments I thought it was interesting that the last whale they caught- the one with the lame fin- was made to be pitiful. I think Melville was deliberately making us uneasy about the slaughter of that one, whereas the first two were more matter of fact.

So, how come nobody talks about the Queequeg/Ishmael thing going on here? The subtext in the Monkey Rope chapter is pretty strong. It starts with Ishmael leering at Queequeg in his "Highlander costume" and then precedes to compare their tying-together to a marriage. Then, during the action of the chapter, Ishmael controls Queequeg by thrusting his pelvis around.

I read that the Inn chapters from the beginning of the book got censored, and I'm a little surprised that this one didn't.


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Melanti | 2384 comments Phil wrote: "I thought it was interesting that the last whale they caught- the one with the lame fin- was made to be pitiful. I think Melville was deliberately making us uneasy about the slaughter of that one, ..."

A very eerie scene. Not only do they kill an elderly, crippled whale - they are competing to do so against a ship so poor and empty that they don't even have enough oil to light their lamps at night - capsizing the other ship's boat in the process.

And they were so impolite and greedy to no effect - the whale sinks so quickly it nearly pulls the Pequod down with it.

Phil wrote: "So, how come nobody talks about the Queequeg/Ishmael thing going on here? The subtext in the Monkey Rope chapter is pretty strong. ..."

Hee hee. That was so wrong! Not sure what Melville is up to with all the marriage imagery, though. Not yet, at least.

And I agree on the censoring thing. This was just as risque as the Inn scene, if not more so.



Lots of sexual imagery going on though.

There's the Monkey Rope scene, then there's the whale's head giving birth to Tashtego, delivered by Queequeg,

Then you have the poor Virgin who is unsullied by any sperm wales so far. (Will the ship have to change her name once she manages to catch one?)


message 11: by George P. (last edited Apr 23, 2017 06:39PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

George P. | 579 comments I'm currently at chapter 59, around half way through the book now- point of no return...
I have both a text copy and an audiobook [anthony Heald reading] and have found it helpful to read the text while listening when convenient. At work I just read the Kindle at lunch or when nothing's going on.

I see only one other post has been added to this section this year, so perhaps I'm ahead of some others doing the "spring of 2017 Long Read" who will get here soon? The last few chapters I found somewhat dull, with talk of how poorly whales have been depicted in paintings going on a very long time. Melville laments that you must see a live whale in the water to really know what they look like, and even then they are mostly below the surface. He had a great imagination but not enough to imagine underwater video cameras that we now take for granted!
Hopefully the next few chapters will have more action, and Ishmael will figure in it more.
My daughter lives in Hawaii (Maui) and not infrequently sees Humpback whales just offshore. I rather wish I were living there as well to help inspire my reading of this classic


message 12: by Katy, New School Classics (new) - rated it 1 star

Katy (kathy_h) | 9692 comments Mod
Some people are posting everything in the Entire Book Spoiler Thread -- so don't worry if there are not too many posts per chapter section.


Cynda (on semi-hiatus) (cynda) | 3311 comments Wow now I am getting into the story so much that the desire to to do the lightest level of reading of this book has some chapters back left me.
Heheee when I read 19th -century novels, I sometimes start sounding like like a 19th-century scribbler.
So okay, I am going to be fully invested in this book to the best of my reading ability very soon. I stopped being able to read lightly at about the point where the narrator describes the shapes and depictions of whales, The French do it best it seems.
I strive to be okay with that as I am soon approaching the midpoint of chapter numbers! I will finish Moby Dick! Whew....


George P. | 579 comments I'm at chapter 81, The Pequod meets the Virgin (Jungfrau). Melville went on at such great length about the anatomy of whales, his very outdated science tends to be tiresome. Seeing what the level of understanding was in those days is not completely without interest, but for most of us modern readers, I think the extent of it is tiresome at times.
Periodically, he gets back to the narrative of what happened on the Pequod and then my interest level revives. But all this slaughter of these great animals was primarily for oil for people's lamps- I find myself thinking "just use candles, or go to bed earlier, if you can't figure out a better way to make light!"


message 15: by Katy, New School Classics (last edited May 15, 2017 12:03PM) (new) - rated it 1 star

Katy (kathy_h) | 9692 comments Mod
It is impressive how many different things that Melville refers to in this book. Many references to the Bible, Shakespeare, we have Quebec and the fort there, and then also the Heidelberg Tun which I could guess at what it was by the reference in the book, but looked it up anyway -- and was impressed by where it was used in literature.


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Phil J | 627 comments Katy wrote: "It is impressive how many different things that Melville refers to in this book. Many references to the Bible, Shakespeare, we have Quebec and the fort there, and then also the Heidelberg Tun which..."

It adds to the difficulty level and the sinking feeling that I'm just not smart enough to be reading this book. Moby Dick, for me, is an experience of tolerating incompleteness. I have to be at peace with not being entirely sure what the point was or how it was being made. Smarter people than me have come up with such a wide range of interpretations that it's a really wide open question.


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Luffy (monkey-d-luffy) | 396 comments I can't see myself giving more than 2 stars to this book. I'm going to try finish it. I don't usually finish books that are this highbrow/abysmal but I want to read this one through because it's a challenge. And I've been inspired by someone on these threads to do it. I don't remember who.


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Katy (kathy_h) | 9692 comments Mod
Luffy I feel like you do also. However it has put a cramp in my reading. Good luck to both of of. I am close to finishing and people have told me that it really picks up in the end -- still waiting for that to happen.


message 19: by Luffy (last edited Jun 10, 2017 12:44AM) (new) - rated it 1 star

Luffy (monkey-d-luffy) | 396 comments Katy wrote: "Luffy I feel like you do also. However it has put a cramp in my reading. Good luck to both of of. I am close to finishing and people have told me that it really picks up in the end -- still waiting..."

I know that nothing redeeming will happen. I'll do my best to finish the book by next week. Hopefully the book has immunized me somehow with books that I'd hurl against my wall.


Lotte | 196 comments Melanti wrote: Lots of sexual imagery going on though.

There's the Monkey Rope scene, then there's the whale's head giving birth to Tashtego, delivered by Queequeg,

Then you have the poor Virgin who is unsullied by any sperm wales so far. (Will the ship have to change her name once she manages to catch one?)


I thought the delivery of Tashtego was hilarious and very tender at the same time, but I can see why it fits in with the sexual imagery. Great reflexion on the Virgin being untouched by sperm whales, I did not make the connection, but it makes sense!

Pink wrote: "Ah yes, the descriptions of the poor whale being caught and killed! With all the adventures and whale descriptions I'd kind of forgotten the purpose of their voyage and the brutality of their missi..."

It sometimes pained me to read the details about whale killing, both because I do not agree with it and because Melvilles "scientific" explanation seems outdated nowadays. I think it served a purpose in his time, though. Probably a lot of people did not have the faintest idea about whales and the sea, so he had to describe it (while we can just go on Youtube to get almost as close to whale as Tashtego).


message 21: by Kathleen (last edited Jun 10, 2017 06:35AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Kathleen | 4084 comments It might be because I'm a vegetarian, but what I thought was interesting was after the whale catching and killing details--Ishmael's defense of "feeding upon the creature that feeds his lamp." He seems to be arguing that it is no different than what more "civilized" people do--one evocative example being using a goose feather to pick the goose out of your teeth.

What surprised me was how far Melville took it--"Cannibals? who is not a cannibal?" Although why would this surprise me? Playing things out further than you'd expect seems to be what he does. :-)


message 22: by Melanti (last edited Jun 13, 2017 07:09AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Melanti | 2384 comments Kathleen wrote: "Ishmael's defense of "feeding upon the creature that feeds his lamp." ..."

That chapter made me think of that second set of the ten commandments - the one about not boiling a goat in its mother's milk.


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Katy (kathy_h) | 9692 comments Mod
Luffy wrote: "...Hopefully the book has immunized me somehow with books that I'd hurl against my wall. ..."


LOL


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