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Moby-Dick or, the Whale
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Weekly Discussions (Moby-Dick) > Week Two: Chapters 12 - 23

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Sarah (sarahj) | 121 comments Mod
Happy Friday sailors!
Today begins our discussion of chapters 12 through 23, from "Nightgown" through "The Lee Shore." In these chapters we meet a number of Quakers, sample some tasty chowders, and finally get to see Nantucket. We also set sail....

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Ken One general question for this stretch is the build-up of meeting Ahab. Boy, howdy -- is this suspense or what? Let me answer the "or what." If I sent a novel in with a wait this long for a major character, it'd be one of the first reasons my manuscript would be returned with puke stains on it (which may exactly be what happened to ole Herm).

What about you? Is over a hundred pages too long to wait for a character this integral to the plot?

(And I just know some wise guy is going to say the wait for Moby is even longer, but still, I thought there might be debate over the relative literary merits of such a delay....)

Carol I accept the author's decision to write how he pleases. I liked the suspense. Twiddledee and Tweedledum(ship's owners) was a comedic relief and sister was even funnier. It seems these first chapters are filled with black humor and outright hilarity. It gets serious upon the open sea.

JenniferD (jooniperd) Newengland wrote: "One general question for this stretch is the build-up of meeting Ahab. Boy, howdy -- is this suspense or what? Let me answer the "or what."..."

Heh heh heh.

I was actually so engaged with the story that I wasn't the least bit irked by waiting so long to meet Ahab. I feel Melville's pacing is wonderful (at this point).

As far as literary merit...I am not sure I know (or can ascribe) the value this delayed introduction adds to the story? It certainly enhances the sense of mystery about the Captain and keeps us, perhaps, a little off-balance?

Carol I am getting the sense that this book is three books in one. Each story could stand alone. You have the adventure story , the travelogue, and the documentary.

Charles In a sense, though, Ahab was introduced long ago, as a lurking presence and a threat, long before he appears embodied.

JenniferD (jooniperd) Charles wrote: "In a sense, though, Ahab was introduced long ago, as a lurking presence and a threat, long before he appears embodied."

This is the sense of mystery and keeping the reader off-balance that I was referring to, Charles. We get hints of Ahab but still have to wait and see if what we have intimated is in keeping with the man.

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Donald (donf) | 86 comments Kitty - and I would add a 4th, a deep philosophical musing into the nature of reality.

Concerning the entrance of Ahab,I think Melville paces it quite nicely. Both Ship Owners and Elijah foreshadow his appearance and create tension. My question is has anyone ever read if Ahab was supposed to be based on any historic person? Andrew Jackson would have been my guess – his shadow on that era loomed quite large.

Carol I could see Melville basing Ahab on Jackson ,it is definitely feasible. If he actually did I haven't read anything .

message 10: by Charles (last edited Nov 12, 2011 12:32PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Charles A brief troll of the literature turned up two recent items -- M Byrd "Captain America" Wilson Q 2009 and Edward Stone "Ahab and Old Hickory" Prospects v4 30 July 2009. There are undoubtedly others. Donald's supposition would appear correct -- I couldn't see the whole of the second article, but Stone seems to be claiming that Melville did this intentionally, a stronger claim than Byrd's, but Stone's documentation I couldn't see. The list of possible sources for Ahab looks to be quite long -- probably this is an academic game.

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Donald (donf) | 86 comments Charles, thanks for doing the Google legwork I should have done before posting. I don't know about an academic game, it just seemed natural to me that Melville might have parodied Jackson, since the later crusaded so vehemently against the National Bank(the precurser of the Federal Reserve Bank) that it took on an Ahab-like monomania.

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Donald (donf) | 86 comments I came across the articles Charles mentions during a search and also found this interesting extract from the the review of Jon Meachem's "American Lion."

Early in “Moby-Dick,” Melville announces his intention to celebrate the “democratic dignity” of ordinary men. To them he shall “ascribe high qualities, though dark.” For support in this endeavor, Melville appeals to the “great democratic God!” the deity “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!”

Jon Meacham, the editor of Newsweek and author of “Franklin and Winston: An Intimate Portrait of an Epic Friendship,” discerns a similar democratic dignity in the seventh president of the United States. But he underplays the consequences of his subject’s darker qualities, especially the fact that, like Captain Ahab, Jackson was willing to destroy everything in order to exact revenge.

Carol Donald I read that book a few years ago also. That was why I could see Melville equating Ahab to Jackson. Thanks for refreshing my memory .

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Donald (donf) | 86 comments Kitty, thanks for you interesting post. I believe Jackson comes under the "broken clock" theory (a broken clock is right two times a day.) He was right about the National Bank and about the initial dangers of secession - he was wrong about just about everything
else. And he was pretty much a scary, scary man! And like Ahab, it was "my way or the highway."

Carol Jackson carried a gun at all times and didn't think twice about using it either from what I understand.

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Donald (donf) | 86 comments Yup! He sent the American Indians on the "Trail of Tears" and he was involved in a lot of land schemes stolen from the American Indians. Slave owner also, which was hardly unusual for the early Presidents.

message 17: by Bill (last edited Nov 12, 2011 08:59PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Bill (BillGNYC) | 184 comments Moby-Dick is highly unusual in that the two main antagonists, Ahab and Moby-Dick, spend relatively little time on stage.

And yet, it works.

I don't miss Ahab although he is conspicuous by his absence. I've learned to accept Melville's choices -- this is an exceptional novel, really one of genius, I've never read one like it -- and I've just learned to go with where ever it leads.

I'm happy enough to be in Ishmael's company.

By the way, Donald (or was it Stephen?) I think we were talking about whether Melville stays in limited third person or moves to omnisicient? I don't think he does, which I've said before. But he doesn't stay strictly within Ishamael's head. At some points he lets us see the world through the eyes of other characters -- but it's a limited third in that case too.

As for models for Ahab, in reading the Hardwick biography, she doesn't see a specific model for him.

Donald you said you were interested in three themes this time around -- Jackson, capitalism and one other? That was you, right? :-)

I think exploitation is a theme, certainly, and Melville was highly conscious of it. In this regard, Captain Bildad is quite wonderful. In the early chapters it's all quite amusing -- but the humor gets blacker as we go on.

Remember that Melville sailed before the mast -- and his family had sailed as officers. But Melville also jumped ship.

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Donald (donf) | 86 comments Bill, yes, here's what I originally wrote:

The first is Melville's depiction of Capitalism through the Whaling Industry. Two, how do the "Extracts" relate to the body of the text. Three, does Andrew Jackson appear in Moby Dick under some guise, even possibly as a model for Ahab.

I would classify exploitation under Capitalism - hoping, of course, not to offend anyone!

I'm keeping an open mind about Melville's family and his attitude towards the "common man."

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Sue | 88 comments Charles wrote: "In a sense, though, Ahab was introduced long ago, as a lurking presence and a threat, long before he appears embodied."

I'm actually enjoying the multi-staged introduction, with the increasing aura of worry, concern, built on to Ahab's pre-existing reputation. It just adds to the momentum of the story, keeping the "star" in the wings.

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Donald (donf) | 86 comments Sue, I agree. I am going to keep an eye on how Ahab's leg is described. In a book I mentioned in an earlier thread, "The Game of Creation," the author devotes an entire chapter to Ahab's leg, another to his name. (Haven't gotten that far in that book yet. I realize that that degree of detail is not everyone's cup of tea!)

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Bill (BillGNYC) | 184 comments Donald,

One interesting thing is that, if we didn't all know that this was a book about a hunt for a specific whale named Moby-Dick, we wouldn't yet know what the book was going to be about beyond a whale hunt.

Actually, I think economic exploitation is the real issue, which is not the came thing as capitalism (okay that's a debate). I think Melville is interested in Christian ideals versus Christian behavior -- and he is having a great deal of fun with Bildad who's a comic figure, a great small part for an actor.

I've been looking at (view spoiler)

This isn't a huge spoiler, it's not a major plot point, but it does discuss material we won't get to for another two or three weeks. And I was addressing this to Donald who's read the book twice already. :-)

Sarah (sarahj) | 121 comments Mod
There is a lot about Christianity and Christian behavior, and one interesting thing is how comfortable Ishmael is throwing off the Christian cloak and be a idolator with Queequeg. "The Ramadan" chapter was again very comic.

There is indeed a lot of build-up to Ahab's actual appearance. I am sure we'll get better acquainted with him. It's true that if the book wasn't called Moby Dick, we wouldn't know yet that it's about a particular whale.

Quakers have a great reputation for being stingy businessmen back in the 1800s. Bildad and Peleg make a good example, with their miserly calculation of Ishmael's lay. As I mentioned elsewhere, the whole scene with them discussing what Ishmael would be paid seemed like a classic good cop/bad cop routine.
(I was brought up going to Quaker meeting in the 70s, by which time the businessman breed of Quaker had all but died out, replaced by pacifist hippies. smile.)

Sarah (sarahj) | 121 comments Mod
(I skipped your spoiler, Bill. Thanks for hiding it!)

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Donald (donf) | 86 comments Bill thanks so much for your post and including the spoiler. I'm not reading Moby Dick as if it were a
mystery novel, so the spoiler won't spoil! I agree that Melville is probably most interested in the Christian belief/vs behavior idea. I will disagree with your Capitalism/exploitation comment with the disclaimer that you can put all I know about Economics in a nutshell. Just going by what I've witnessed since the advent of Ronald Reagan's Trickle-down Reign of Christian Benevolence, I can say quite confidently that UNREGULATED Capitalism ALWAYS leads to slavery of some sort, chattel or wage! Melville most certainly knew that same thing either consciously or subconsciously. The 1850's in the US was a time when everyone had angst over the impending and inevitable train wreck just ahead. They had lost or were in the process of losing all the great compromisers, so they they were left with the same sort of political buffoons that we now see in Congress, the Supreme Court, and as Republican presidential contenders - excepting Rick Santorum of course!

Stephen (havan) | 90 comments All very weighty comments so far...

But I would like to add some levity and trivia to the discussion...

First as to the Try Pot Inn with it's inestimable chowders... From the American Experience dodc on whaling I learned that elsewhere (probably later in this book) Melville wrote of the terrible odor of the try pots when rendering whale blubber into oil. Was this meant as a joke in naming an Inn after so smelly a function?

Second, Bildad was one of the "comforters" of Job. I wonder who was Bildad comforting in this case? Is there a meaning hidden here that I'm missing?

Third is a non-sequiter of sorts... Ishmael refers to Queequeg's religious observance as Ramadan. I'm assuming that he's using that term to mean any foreign religious observance. But that set me to wondering about religious holidays and how they are referred to. The Romans are noted as being good at incorporating pagan religious holidays of the peoples they conquered into their own. Which reminded me that Easter is really a name taken from a pagan festival. And nowhere in the King James Version is Christmas or Easter ever mentioned by name. Is that also true of Ramadan in the Quran?

message 26: by Carol (last edited Nov 13, 2011 12:29PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Carol Ramadan is mentioned only once in the Quran, all other times it is mentioned as fasting. Ramadan is not the holiday it is the month of fasting. The holiday is Eid ul-Fitr which marks the end of fasting in the month of Ramadan.

Al-Baqara 2:185 -The month of Ramadan in which was revealed the Qur’an, a guidance for mankind and clear proofs for the guidance and the criterion (between right and wrong). So whoever of you sights (the crescent on the first night of) the month (of Ramadan .....

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Donald (donf) | 86 comments Very interesting post, Stephen. Interesting and funny about the Try Pot Inn. It's been so long since I read Job, that I can't comment other than to say - I thought no one was successful at comforting Job! Would also be interested in the Ramadan info if you ever find anything on this.

I found something in the commentary I'm reading, "The Game of Creation," that I have not verified in my MB reading. The author said both Peleg and Bildad are always referred to as "Captain," but Ahab, the real Captain is never referred to as such!

message 28: by Ken (last edited Nov 13, 2011 04:06PM) (new)

Ken Some passages I found noteworthy (or just fun):

In Ch.16, "The Ship": I got a kick out of the debate between Bildad and Peleg. They struck me as an Oscar and Felix sort of Odd Couple, for one. Then there's Peleg's name, so reminiscent of "peg leg."

What I enjoyed is when Bildad said to Ishamael "Dost thee?" and Ishmael replied, "I dost."

In Ch. 18, "His Mark": Here Melville mixes serious with humorous. First, the serious. When Bildad insists that Ishmael reveal his church, we get this:

"Finding myself thus hard pushed, I replied, "I mean, sir, the same ancient Catholic Church to which you and I, and Captain Peleg there, and Queequeg here, and all of us, and every mother's son and soul of us belong; the great and everlasting First Congregation of this whole worshipping world; we all belong to that; only some of us cherish some queer crotchets noways touching the grand belief; in that we all join hands."

Embedding a little religious critique, Melville is. I also recognized the words "every mother's son" from Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream. I think it is uttered by one of the clownish characters led by Bottom (perhaps by the old butt of many a joke himself).

Then the funny part. After Queequeg shows his prowess with the harpoon, a wide-eyed Peleg says, "Quick, I say, you Bildad, and get the ship's papers. We must have Hedgehog there, I mean Quohog, in one of our boats. Look ye, Quoghog, we'll give ye the ninetieth lay, and that's more than ever was given a harpooneer yet out of Nantucket."

(If memory serves, Hedgehog gets a much higher wage than our friend Ishmael.)

Finally, in Ch. 21's "Going Aboard," we have the scene aforementioned where Q. and I. see the old sailor sleeping on his stomach.

"I beat the thing down; and again marking the sleeper, jocularly hinted to Queequeg that perhaps we had best sit up with the body; telling him to establish himself accordingly. He put his hand upon the sleeper's rear, as though feeling if it was soft enough; and then, with out more ado, sat quietly down there.

'Gracious! Queequeg, don't sit there,' said I.

'Oh! perry dood seat,' said Queequeg, 'my country way; won't hurt him face.'

'Face!' said I, 'call that his face? very benevolent countenance then; but how hard he breathes, he's heaving himself; get off, QueeQueg, you are heavy, it's grinding the face of the poor.'"

Nosirree, Bob, I never thought there'd be frat house humor in Moby Dick, but I sit corrected.

Stephanie Bens | 19 comments It does not bother me that Melville is taking so long to introduce Ahab. I suppose that's because I've never really thought of Ahab as important before outside of the fact that he is the crazy captain who purposefully gets everyone into the mess that is MD. I've never read this book the whole way through before, but I am gathering from the few veterans of the novel that Ahab is much more important than I seem to think. My college professor was much more interested in Ishmael than in Ahab, so I suppose that is why I am a little ignorant here.

Donald, I find your comparison of Ahab and Jackson to be an intriguing idea, but I am unsure where this connect is coming from as of yet. I do know about Jackson. Are you making this connection based on other things further in the novel, or am I completely missing something important in the reading thus far? Perhaps you could explain a little more for those of us (i.e. me) who don't follow you here.

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Sue | 88 comments I really enjoyed the religious discussion prior to signing on and Ishmael trying to describe Queequeg's church-going ways. Thankfully his harpoon skill made that irrelevant. Another jab at religious beliefs of the businessmen.

I too found the name Peleg odd and actually found myself reading it as Peg Leg unconsciously Was he the man who first started talking about Ahab having lost a leg? Is this another pointer by Melville?

JenniferD (jooniperd) Newengland wrote: "(If memory serves, Hedgehog gets a much higher wage than our friend Ishmael.)"

The 90th vs. the 300th. share. (So weird the things I remember!)

Stephanie Bens | 19 comments I have a couple questions based on this weeks reading.
First, I found the way Ishmael explains how Captain Bildad reconciles his religion with his occupation very interesting. Ishmael states that Captain Bilhad acts as if "a man's religion is one thing, and this practical world quite another." Yet for many people religion is a practice meant to guide and instruct them through life; in this way they are inseparable. This thought made me question to what extent Ishmael's and Queequeq's religious beliefs will be called into question during the voyage and what the significance of this might be in the novel? Any thoughts?

My second question-- can someone please explain the point of chapter 23? I realize Melville has a habit of being very verbose about absolutely nothing in particular, but I do not understand why he might write a chapter concerning Bulkington, whom he already stated previously was an unimportant character.

Stephen (havan) | 90 comments Newengland wrote: "Some passages I found noteworthy (or just fun) ..."

Would it be too low to mention NE, that in this one post you brought up Shakespeare's Bottom and Queequeg's "perry dood seat" in the same post?

Since you mention these, I must throw in Starbuck's expletive, "ye sons of bachelors.” Rather circuitous way of calling them bastards, no?

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Bill (BillGNYC) | 184 comments Stephanie,

I'm not at all sure what Ishmael's religious beliefs are so I'm not entirely sure how they'll be called into question. More to the point, Ishmael questions everything, looks at every issue from at least two sides. What Queequeg's religious beliefs are, specifically, are hard to say. He worships his idol but what that means to him is uncertain. So as we've gotten and so far as I've gotten, this is not a novel about conclusions, it's a novel about thinking.

Which brings up Chapter XXIII. (And by the way I don't think Melville is verbose. He's not concise, but concision is not his intention. It's digression and poetry.)

Chapter XXIII is not about Bulkington. Bulkington is an instance of an attitude to which he wants to call attention.

Know ye, now, Bulkington? Glimpses do ye see to see of that mortally intolerable truth? that all deep earnest thinking is but the intrepid effort of the soul to keep the open independence of her sea; while the wildest winds of heaven and earth conspire to cast her on the treacherous, slavish shore?
But as in landlessness alone resides the highest truth, shoreless, indefinite as God -- so, better is it to perish in that howling infinite, than to be gloriously dashed upon the lee, even if that were safety! For worm-like, then, oh! who would craven crawl to land!

I can't be certain, but I think Ishamel believes we should be open to all intellectual possibility, not matter how terrifying we are to keep the mind open, to keep God as an idea uncertain and indefinite -- no matter how frightening -- and leave certainty and clarity for the cowards. People of courage take to the intellectual sea.

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Bill (BillGNYC) | 184 comments Donald,

My intent wasn’t to argue economics. When I was suggesting was that capitalism and exploitation were not identical, I wasn’t making a comment on capitalism. I was suggesting that Melville’s interest in exploitation and human rapacity was broader than merely economic.

There’s nothing I've read about Melville to date that suggested he thought about economics much at all as a system -- and thinking about economics was still a relatively new idea. He read widely, but I don't know that included economics. I think Melville's interest is the nature of man, not his systems.

You can, of course, personally offer a Marxist analysis of Moby-Dick , but I don’t think you can attribute any of that to Melville. After all, if it’s your interpretation, you can read Winne the Pooh in a Marxist light and a make case for it. That's quite different from saying it was in the mind of Milne.

On the other – and I mean this affectionately -- if all you know about economics can fit into a nutshell, I don't know if that’s the way you want to go for your senior thesis. I’m just saying… :-)

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Donald (donf) | 86 comments Stephanie: Greetings. Let me try to respond to your question about Jackson and Ahab. Although I'm sure there's tons of information on the internet and in critical studies about Ahab and Jackson, I came to my
decision that they were related purely from common historical sense. Jackson was the most influential American President from the 1830's until the emergence of Lincoln. Jackson, had a very volatile personality - he fought a number of duels - and he had a monomaniac obsession with the National Bank, no less passionately than Ahab with the White Whale. Melville would most certainly would have been aware of this. I'm not saying this is in any way certain - just a possibility.

Here's the Andrew Jackson wiki:

message 37: by Stephen (last edited Nov 13, 2011 06:05PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Stephen (havan) | 90 comments Bill wrote: "Chapter XXIII is not about Bulkington. Bulkington is an instance of an attitude to which he wants to call attention...."

I particularly like the title for this chapter, Lee Shore.

A lee shore occurs when the winds are blowing so as to push your vessel toward the shore. This is considered very dangerous by sailors.

If they are to be safe they must beat against the wind to gain sea room or risk being wrecked on shore.

The title alone conjurs up for me much of what is being said about Bulkington.

On another note...

The story about the ship's captain washing in a punch bowl reminded me of one of my favorite Hornblower stories.

Commodore Hornblower, his first time at the Russian court goes to a lavish supper and, during the cocktail hour that proceeds it, is quite contented to try the vodka and caviar and other such small treats as are served. The generally abstemious Hornblower, thinking that he's eaten well and is just the tiniest bit buzzed is very happy with the meal(if a bit suprised that they'd served it all standing) but is soon dismayed when a gong strikes and the guests all pair off and go in to the real meal.

He'd mistaken the cocktail reception for the main dinner and he'd thought that he was done!

Stephanie Bens | 19 comments Bill wrote: "Stephanie,

I'm not at all sure what Ishmael's religious beliefs are so I'm not entirely sure how they'll be called into question? More to the point, Ishmael questions everything, looks at every is..."

Bill, thanks for clearing up chapter 23 for me. That makes a lot of sense.

As far as my question about religious beliefs is concerned, I had not meant to draw conclusions at this point (we are only through chapter 23 after all); I meant only to point it out as a point of interest worth following in later chapters and to see if anyone had thoughts yet at this point in the reading.

Stephanie Bens | 19 comments Donald wrote: "Stephanie: Greetings. Let me try to respond to your question about Jackson and Ahab. Although I'm sure there's tons of information on the internet and in critical studies about Ahab and Jackson, I ..."

Thanks for the info Donald! I had actually forgotten about Jackson's issues with the National Bank (most of what I learned about him concerned the Native Americans) so that is probably where my confusion came from :)

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Ken As for the role Ishmael's religion will play on the voyage, I say, "What religion?"

OK. To be more concise: "What organized religion?"

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Bill (BillGNYC) | 184 comments Stephen,

I think in general Melville's having fun with using more obscure Old Testament names after the fashion of some New England Protestants. He may mean something, or he may not.

I think the most relevant name in these chapters was Elijah who tries to play a prophetic role and who did confront Ahab in the Bible. However, his role here seems to be to warn sailors away from the Pequod -- and he's not really very good at it. He does see things -- and Ishamel sees them also -- but that's the closest to the supernatural I've come across.

But Melville seems to use these names, Biblical echoes to add an epic flavor to his story.

As for Christmas, it's always good to know that Christmas is a name for the holiday invented by the English. Names like "Natale" focusing on the main event are more common.

It's also interesting to notice that they're sailing out of Nantucket on Christmas. You think Bildad might have waited a day.

But then it's not always clear how much of a big deal Christmas was. The Puritans didn't celebrate it. It wasn't commonly celebrated until perhaps the middle of the 18th century in America.

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Donald (donf) | 86 comments Bill - no fear of me going any which way on a senior thesis! I agree with what you're saying. Melville probably did not analyze Capitalism as we might now. I still maintain Capitalism and slavery are inextricably linked and MD certainly touches the slavery issue. Remember that the Revolution of 1848 was almost contemporaneous with the writing of MD. Karl Marx was in London at the time and met with my political hero of the 19th century, Carl Schurz, a veteran of the Revolution of 1848, having been booted out of Germany for his activities towards establishing democracy in Germany. (Schurz would go on to be a Senator, Editor, Secretary of the Interior, friend of Lincoln, the acknowledged leader of the national German-American community and a Corp commander at Gettysburg) Melville would most certainly have known something about Marx.

But, You don't need to be a Marxist to deplore unregulated Capitalism,you just need a sense of decency!

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Petra I haven't read any comments yet. Just thought I'd pop in to say that I haven't completed this week's reading yet due to a very busy week last week.

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Bill (BillGNYC) | 184 comments Donald,

If you can find something in Melville's writings, including his correspondence, the letters of his contempories, in biographies of Melville, that showed Melville was ever interested in a systematic critique of capitalism, I'll be all ears.

Yes, the revolutions of 1848 were nearly contemporaneous with the writing of Moby-Dick. So was the founding of Cartier.

You need to show that Melville had a particular opinion about the revolutions. Karl Marx had only recently come to London, his writings were in German, and neither is New York -- or better yet Pittsfield, Massachusetts. I don't know of any evidence to suggest Melville even knew who Marx was, much less "would have certainly known something about Marx."

And I don't see how your political hero of the 19th century having met Marx is relevant.

But show the evidence. I'm not seeing what you say isn't true. I'm saying you haven't come close to demonstrating it, and I'm inclined to think it's not likely.

Until then, I think you can offer a Marxist interpretation of Moby-Dick, but you can't be convincing that it was Melville's intention.

message 45: by Ken (new)

Ken Petra wrote: "I haven't read any comments yet. Just thought I'd pop in to say that I haven't completed this week's reading yet due to a very busy week last week."

Petra, I'm afraid you'll have to serve some "working detentions" with me so you can catch up. "No time," like "the dog ate my homework," is simply unacceptable.


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Donald (donf) | 86 comments Bill, I agree with you again. So far there is no evidence that Melville thought about Capitalism as we
might think of it today. When I think of Capitalism, I think of the bare-bones actions between Capital and Labor within a business or industry, such as the whaling industry, devoid of any theorizing or philosophy. I didn't initially bring up Marx nor do I even think of him when thinking about Capitalism. So looking at MB through a Marxian lens would not be my cup of tea. I brought up Schurz just to show that Marx was a known entity at the time, by non economists, and was accessible to strangers.

LauraT (laurata) Jennifer wrote: was actually so engaged with the story that I wasn't the least bit irked by waiting so long to meet Ahab. I feel Melville's pacing is wonderful (at this point).

That's exactly how I felt. I don't ermember, whe reading it for the first time, noticing that Achab was still missing. The book is long, and keeps a slow speed; I felt, and feel, something like "all things at their proper time"!!!

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Bill (BillGNYC) | 184 comments Stephen,

I do think Melville (view spoiler).

I think rapacity, cannibalism (real and metaphorical), the abuse of power, civilization's extremely thin veneer and the resulting variety of hypocrisies are themes that interest me so far.

Sarah (sarahj) | 121 comments Mod
I agree with Jennifer and Laura. I had no hankering for Ahab. The story has been good enough without him. Yet, land ho! Here he comes...

Carol Ahab a dreary dark character fraught with a hidden madness. When he appears he is not too scary. Has Ismael describe the hole for Ahab's leg and for that matter Ahab's leg?

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