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Authors > Herman Melville

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message 1: by Martyn (last edited Jan 30, 2011 02:06PM) (new)

Martyn | 299 comments I've tried to read Moby Dick but never got beyond the first three words for some reason. Mostly because I've seen John Huston's film and think why bother... which is incredibly lazy and most unlike me. I also saw the t.v. movie with Patrick Stewart as Ahab. I will definitely read it one day. I promise!

A new book has been written about the mysterious life of Herman Melville. It's a novel from the point of view of his wife. It's by Jay Parini who wrote The Last Station about Tolstoi.

Anyway, here's an article about Melville from The Guardian. Melville. Let me know your general thoughts and ideas on Melville. Thanks!


message 2: by João (new)

João Camilo (jcamilo) | 259 comments The thing about Melville is that he also wrote Benito Cereno, Bartebly, Billy Bud and a few poems that are all on top of Henry James or Poe best works...


message 3: by Jonathan, the skipper (new)

Jonathan | 609 comments Mod
. . .yeah, the shorter novels rul, especially benito cereno . . . i think you'll LOVE moby dick, actually, martyn . . .


message 4: by Neil (new)

Neil McCrea | 204 comments I used to obsess a bit over Melville, I even once had committed Father Mapple's sermon from Moby Dick to memory. Such a heavy sense of doom and foreboding in that passage.


message 5: by Christopher, Swanny (new)

Christopher Swann (christopherswann) | 189 comments Mod
Moby-Dick rules. It's got Shakespearean undertones (well, okay, overtones in some parts), it's part postmodern novel about a hundred years before postmodernism, it's got epic and humor and doom, it's got philosophy and adventure and violence and cannibals. And it's got two great characters in Ishmael and Ahab.

Never seen Huston's film but understand it's very good. (Hey, Ray Bradbury co-wrote the screenplay with Huston--how could it be bad?)


message 6: by João (new)

João Camilo (jcamilo) | 259 comments The truth about the movie... It is fine, but it is like an adaptation of abrigaded version of Moby, there is no undertone (They should have used Orson as the voice of the whale, even if she does not talk at all), it is like... lets remove the whaling encyclopedic part because it bores.

Then spielberg made Jaws from a mediocre text and all is done.


message 7: by Ry (new)

Ry (downeyr) | 173 comments Moby Dick is amazing! Ahab is without a doubt one of the greatest characters ever written and Ishmael is definitely one of my favorite narrators. The chapters on whaling are usually what get people stuck...if you want my honest opinion about them, skip ahead if you feel bored to get back on with the story, but be sure to go back and read them anyway. Melville didn't put them in for no reason--it illustrates a lot of the boredom on whaling vessels between moments of action, among other things.

"Bartleby, the Scrivener" is a great short story of Melville's, too.


message 8: by João (new)

João Camilo (jcamilo) | 259 comments The whaling chapter? Without them it would be a novel just about hunting the big white dick.


message 9: by Ry (new)

Ry (downeyr) | 173 comments Jcamilo wrote: "The whaling chapter? Without them it would be a novel just about hunting the big white dick."

Definitely more than one chapter on whaling, but I was talking about the chapters on cetology and whatnot that get people stuck, not the chapters where they are doing actual whaling.


message 10: by Shel, ad astra per aspera (new)

Shel (shelbybower) | 946 comments Mod
As I read through this thread, something surprised me: the similarity between Moby-Dick and some of the structure, and meandering, of Infinite Jest.


message 11: by Jonathan, the skipper (new)

Jonathan | 609 comments Mod
. . . that's giving wallace too much credit, at least in my mind . . .moby dick was truly a groundbreaking work, way ahead of its time . . . IJ is more like kurt vonnegut finally wrote a long book . . .


message 12: by João (new)

João Camilo (jcamilo) | 259 comments Ry wrote: "Jcamilo wrote: "The whaling chapter? Without them it would be a novel just about hunting the big white dick."

Definitely more than one chapter on whaling, but I was talking about the chapters on c..."


I equate those encyclopedia-like chapters with the opening chapters of Brother K, the description of the cellling, the slowness that is nothing but a preparation to the contemplative nature of Aliocha necessary to deal with the 3 personalities of the other Karamazovs.

The best hollywood thraillers have similar momments in the middle of narrative, a pause, a breathing momment, a kiss, something that apparently brothers washowski or that guy from transformer has no idea what is.


message 13: by Ry (new)

Ry (downeyr) | 173 comments Jcamilo wrote: "Ry wrote: "Jcamilo wrote: "The whaling chapter? Without them it would be a novel just about hunting the big white dick."

Definitely more than one chapter on whaling, but I was talking about the ..."


That's a good point about the pause in the narrative. I was just saying that for the random reader coming to Moby-Dick for the first time, they may want to skip the encyclopedia parts if they find them boring and come back to them. However, for Martyn's sake, he's a sophisticated enough reader to find something of value in the whaling chapters rather than being bored with them.

And that's a really interesting thought about equating the whaling chapters with the opening chapters of The Brothers Karamazov...now you made me want to go back and read Moby Dick again.


message 14: by Shel, ad astra per aspera (new)

Shel (shelbybower) | 946 comments Mod
It would be fun to read Brothers K here but I don't think we'd get through Moby Dick...


message 15: by Ry (new)

Ry (downeyr) | 173 comments Shel wrote: "It would be fun to read Brothers K here but I don't think we'd get through Moby Dick..."

That's funny, Shel. For some reason I would have thought the exact opposite! But I'm up for reading either one.


message 16: by João (new)

João Camilo (jcamilo) | 259 comments I suggest we to make a mix. Pick 5 chapters from each. Them we can have 4 from Sentimental Education, 3 from Notredamme Paris, 7 from Doctor Jekyll and Mister Hide and we have a new book.


message 17: by Jonathan, the skipper (new)

Jonathan | 609 comments Mod
. . . fuck, i would love to do a reading of moby dick or the brothers karamozov . . . no matter what, i'm down for the discussion . . .


message 18: by Christopher, Swanny (new)

Christopher Swann (christopherswann) | 189 comments Mod
Might have said this before somewhere in the FF, but I read Moby Dick in high school--for summer reading, no less--and, while I disliked it then, I could still sense its strange power. Ten years later, I got a very nice leather-bound copy of the novel from one of those specialty book clubs--"buy one American classic and buy six more for only $19.99 each!" I got the novel, canceled my membership in the book club, and started reading, and couldn't stop. It's not an easy novel, but it's pretty amazing for what it does and especially considering when it was written. I teach it to my AP students in the spring, and I'd love to get insights from you all...plus it would be fun to geek out on Melville for a bit.

Long story short: I'm up for a Moby Dick discussion.


message 19: by João (new)

João Camilo (jcamilo) | 259 comments Since albino fat people are being called Moby, we should discuss the edition where Moby word was replaced by Huge.
Then we can discuss.


message 20: by Shel, ad astra per aspera (new)

Shel (shelbybower) | 946 comments Mod
I'm in, no matter what the book. I have a refreshed commitment/focus to both writing and reading


message 21: by Neil (new)

Neil McCrea | 204 comments Since the inception of the Fiction Files I have missed every group reading in favor of my commitment to my own reading list. But now you're considering doing a group read of either the Brothers Karamazov or Moby Dick? Don't tempt me with my two favorite novels of all time! My reading list is already huge and not shrinking any time soon.


message 22: by Christopher, Swanny (new)

Christopher Swann (christopherswann) | 189 comments Mod
We live to tempt, Neil.


message 23: by Martyn (last edited Feb 02, 2011 03:27PM) (new)

Martyn | 299 comments I read a really neat thing this evening. I got this book from the library called Death, Sex and Words. It's a non fiction book highlighting important occasions in literature. There's some wonderful passages.

But one really stood out: Herman Melville and Nathaniel Hawthorne took a walk on a beach near where I grew up when Hawthorne was Consul at Liverpool and Melville was travelling Europe and called in on his old buddy. The idea of Melville and Hawthorne taking a stroll on the beach at Southport just blew my fucking mind. I mean, that's crazy! Two famous American writers walking on a shitty beach in England... weird.

Next time I go to my hometown I'm gonna take a trip out there. I've got Moby Dick from the library today so will try and start it.


message 24: by João (new)

João Camilo (jcamilo) | 259 comments Have you read a children diary Hawthorne wrote for his son? His wife traveled and he had to take care of his kid (Hawthorne seems to nicest father) and at some point they are returning from the city when a dude pass by and salute them. It was Melville just walking, so they decided to take a coffee. Together. Seems like Melville was very funny with kids too.


message 25: by Patrick, photographic eye (new)

Patrick | 133 comments Mod
i read billy budd. picked it up like necessary homework i wanted done before seeing the claire denis film beau travail. ended up enjoying it quite a bit. then i read white-jacket, thinking i'd work my way up to moby. i enjoyed that too, but never went any further.


message 26: by Shel, ad astra per aspera (new)

Shel (shelbybower) | 946 comments Mod
I nominate Swanny and whomever else is available to lead the discussion on MD, since it's a pretty big book and maybe the awesome responsibility of leading a discussion needs to be parsed out.

I'm up for Brothers K and would be comfy helping to run that one, too.

Oh! Wait. I guess we all have to agree to do it, right? ;)


message 27: by Christopher, Swanny (new)

Christopher Swann (christopherswann) | 189 comments Mod
Well, if anyone is up for MD, I'm teaching it in starting at the end of March/beginning of April, so I'll volunteer to help lead a discussion. That would give people a good amount of time to get started.


message 28: by Robert (new)

Robert Corbett (robcrowe00) | 169 comments It's been years since I read the hunting of the white whale. I'd enjoy being a part of its discussion here.


message 29: by Kerry, flame-haired janeite (last edited Feb 08, 2011 08:27AM) (new)

Kerry Dunn (kerryanndunn) | 887 comments Mod
I've never read Moby Dick. I would love to read it for the first time in conjunction with a Swanny led group discussion, however I won't commit absolutely because I have a tendency to fail miserably when it comes to our FF group reads. Well at least when it comes to Faulkner.

I'll try. Let's leave it at that.


message 30: by Dan, deadpan man (new)

Dan | 641 comments Mod
Kerry wrote: "I'll try. Let's leave it at that. "

ditto.


message 31: by Maureen, mo-nemclature (new)

Maureen (modusa) | 683 comments Mod
i'm in! moby dick is not required reading here in canada so i'd love to read it my favourite group! i do know it's a key novel for a lot of great writers. and i have read a lot of speculation about homo-eroticism in this book. :)


message 32: by Maureen, mo-nemclature (new)

Maureen (modusa) | 683 comments Mod
p.s. i haven't bought it yet -- do you recommend any specific edition?


message 33: by Ry (new)

Ry (downeyr) | 173 comments Maureen wrote: "p.s. i haven't bought it yet -- do you recommend any specific edition?"

Maureen, I recommend the Barnes and Noble Classics Series edition because it has a lot of great footnotes accompanying the text that lend lots to the narrative in the way of context.


message 34: by Robert (new)

Robert Corbett (robcrowe00) | 169 comments Norton if available cheap is good as well.


message 35: by Les (new)

Les  (lthmpls) | 116 comments Hey everyone. This is my second post--just introduced myself a few minutes ago. MD has been on my must read list for years and was a major goal for this year. I am excited and definitely in. Thanks for leading it Swanny.


message 36: by Maureen, mo-nemclature (new)

Maureen (modusa) | 683 comments Mod
thanks for the advice ry and robert. i'm not sure if i can get a barnes & noble edition in canada but i'll see what there is to see. i do like footnotes so i will definitely try to track down an annotated edition. :)

p.s. welcome les!


message 37: by Christopher, Swanny (new)

Christopher Swann (christopherswann) | 189 comments Mod
Mo--the B&N edition is nice and what my students read--good cheap paperback with nice notes.


message 38: by Maureen, mo-nemclature (last edited Feb 07, 2011 01:45PM) (new)

Maureen (modusa) | 683 comments Mod
it looks like i can get it here:
http://www.amazon.ca/Moby-Dick-Barnes...

i think i would like to be on a level playing field with swanny's students. :)

but! now i am coveting the Penguin edition with the Tony Millionaire cover just for its pretty: http://www.amazon.ca/Deluxe-Classics-...

so I may get both -- at my new job i get 60% off all penguin books, so i may as well take advantage of it.


message 39: by Robert (new)

Robert Corbett (robcrowe00) | 169 comments We may have to talk, Mo. Have "Inherent Vice" yet?


message 40: by Dan, deadpan man (new)

Dan | 641 comments Mod
I snagged a public domain copy and I am going to try out the Kindle which I have had sitting here collecting dust since christmas.


message 41: by Christopher, Swanny (new)

Christopher Swann (christopherswann) | 189 comments Mod
Les wrote: "Hey everyone. This is my second post--just introduced myself a few minutes ago. MD has been on my must read list for years and was a major goal for this year. I am excited and definitely in. Thanks..."

Les--thanks, and welcome!


message 42: by Christopher, Swanny (new)

Christopher Swann (christopherswann) | 189 comments Mod
Maureen wrote: "it looks like i can get it here:
http://www.amazon.ca/Moby-Dick-Barnes...

i think i would like to be on a level playin..."


I so want that Tony Millionaire cover as a poster for my classroom. That and the sketch of Queequeg's tats.


message 43: by Maureen, mo-nemclature (last edited Feb 07, 2011 08:15PM) (new)

Maureen (modusa) | 683 comments Mod
Chris wrote: I so want that Tony Millionaire cover as a poster for my classroom."

!!!! http://us.penguingroup.com/nf/Book/Bo...

only 7.95 (sans tats, but hey! pretty awesome, no? i wonder if i get a 60 percent discount on posters too? :P)

robert: at first i thought, "of course we should talk." then i thought, "i don't know what inherent vice is at all". then i looked it up and realized you want to use me for my discount. :P

we can definitely talk about that but i expect the shipping charges from canada would probably offset any retail price savings. if i do make it to the west coast again in the future, it might make it worthwhile. a local friend of mine is getting a good discount on a mac though -- and i am looking forward to using the company museum memberships when i eventually get to new york, and to london again. :)


message 44: by Christopher, Swanny (new)

Christopher Swann (christopherswann) | 189 comments Mod
Very, very awesome--muchas gracias!


message 45: by Adrian (new)

Adrian | 253 comments You slackers couldn't even deal with a silly woman like Madame Bovary. How are you gonna handle a vindictive whale?

Big Dick will kick your asses!




message 46: by João (new)

João Camilo (jcamilo) | 259 comments Moby Dick: Guy loves girl who run from him. Bovary: Girl is silly and ends without love. See, it is easier to deal with a story about man being rejected than a girl being rejected.


message 47: by Christopher, Swanny (new)

Christopher Swann (christopherswann) | 189 comments Mod
Moby will indeed kick our asses. And we'll be better off for it.

As for Madame Bovary, I know I risk charges of heresy, but I can't stand it. I admire Flaubert's writing ability--he's a truly great writer. But I just heartily dislike the story. I don't want literature to be a Transformers movie, or tie up neatly and happily with a pretty bow, and I'm aware of the dangers of sentimental romanticization, but I'll take a flawed work like Moby-Dick over a beautifully-written work like Flaubert's any day.

And now Martyn is fashioning a voodoo doll of me so he can ram a sword into it.


message 48: by Adrian (new)

Adrian | 253 comments [image error]


message 50: by Shel, ad astra per aspera (new)

Shel (shelbybower) | 946 comments Mod
Chris wrote: "Moby will indeed kick our asses. And we'll be better off for it.

As for Madame Bovary, I know I risk charges of heresy, but I can't stand it. I admire Flaubert's writing ability--he's a truly ..."


I agree, Chris. I love his writing, but I couldn't even start part 3 of Bovary. It's like he gave her a lobotomy at the end of part 2.


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