Herman Melville discussion

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Group Read > First selection

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message 1: by Azaghedi (new)

Azaghedi | 19 comments Mod
Anyone interested in a group read?

If so, there's a poll on the group's main page, toward the bottom, where you can vote for what book you'd like us to read first.

After we decide just what it will be, we can work out the time-frame, discussion leader, and all those sorts of details.


message 2: by Donald (new)

Donald (donf) | 26 comments Count me in.


message 3: by Charles (new)

Charles Kell (goodreadscomkell) | 3 comments Sounds good.


message 4: by Donald (new)

Donald (donf) | 26 comments I looked at my copy of "Confidence Man" last night and would certainly change my vote to it. Melville has fairly short chapters which like in Moby Dick was a godsend for keeping up with Group reading.


message 5: by Azaghedi (new)

Azaghedi | 19 comments Mod
If we end up with a tie--which looks possible at this point--we can switch your vote to "The Confidence-Man" if you'd like to.


message 6: by Donald (new)

Donald (donf) | 26 comments Yes, that would be fine.


message 7: by Azaghedi (new)

Azaghedi | 19 comments Mod
"The Confidence-Man" it is!

It'd seem logical to begin on the first of March, and end naturally with the same month (or the following, if consensus so desires). Anyone have opinions on the matter?


message 8: by Charles (new)

Charles Kell (goodreadscomkell) | 3 comments I think this sounds like good idea; as we sift through the text throughout the month we can decide how to set up discussions, etc.


message 9: by Donald (last edited Feb 25, 2012 07:47AM) (new)

Donald (donf) | 26 comments Steve - I think it would be nice and symmetrical to end on April 1, the day the novel begins, BUT, I think that would be a bit rushed. Like many of the Group members, I'm juggling 3 or 4 books at once. I think at least 6 weeks would be best, that would average out to 37 pages a week in the Norton Critical Edition. (Hate the font size in this edition and will try to get a large print version from the Library, if they have one.) The Moby Dick Group was very well paced about 10 chapters per week. Many were 1 or 2 page chapters. I will also see if there's any interest from members of that Group for CM.


message 10: by Azaghedi (new)

Azaghedi | 19 comments Mod
Thanks, Donald and Charles, for the responses. I have no problem extending our reading period into April. Is everyone at least alright with starting next week?

If so, although March 1st would be a good date, it is a Thursday, and may afford members less time to read than if we started on a weekend. Let's officially start on the 3rd, then, which is exactly one week from today.


message 11: by Donald (new)

Donald (donf) | 26 comments March 3 is fine with me. Funny thing, I do more reading on the weekdays than on the weekends - Bus and subway ride dedicated to reading!


message 12: by Donald (new)

Donald (donf) | 26 comments While reading the Forward to my copy of CM, by Hershel Parker, I came upon this intriguing comment: "...the scrupulous reader of CM is rewarded by an intensity of intellectual and aesthetic exhilaration comparable to almost nothing else in our literature except some early Swift (such as "A Tale of a Tub") and some late Nabokov (such as Pale Fire). To share that exhilaration is the purpose of this Norton Critical Edition."


message 13: by Carl (new)

Carl | 3 comments I am in. The third is fine with me, that gives me time to finish up some other stuff. I looked through my copy tonight and it is 45 chapters, if we read a chapter a day, 5.5 pages each on average in my edition, that is 6 weeks. Finish on 4-17?


message 14: by Donald (new)

Donald (donf) | 26 comments Carl, 6 weeks was my guesstament also.


message 15: by Azaghedi (new)

Azaghedi | 19 comments Mod
6 weeks is fine with me.

That's a tantalizing quote, Donald; now I can't wait to get started!


message 16: by Donald (new)

Donald (donf) | 26 comments Steve - Anything related to Pale Fire piques my interest, it being one of my favorite novels. As for "The Tale of the Tub," I'm ashamed to say I've never read it!


message 17: by Azaghedi (new)

Azaghedi | 19 comments Mod
I'm ashamed to say that I've never read "Pale Fire," though it's one that I'm very desirous of reading. The premise is ingenious and I can only imagine how much Nabokov has done with it.


message 18: by Donald (new)

Donald (donf) | 26 comments If you don't have time to read the novel, just read the Poem - well worth it!!


message 19: by Azaghedi (new)

Azaghedi | 19 comments Mod
Don't worry, I definitely plan on reading the whole book! I just don't own it yet, and when I look at my bookshelves, overflowing with other great books I still have to read, I find it hard to justify that I need to add to them a new companion.


message 20: by Donald (new)

Donald (donf) | 26 comments I was always intrigued by Melville's epigram to CM -
"To the victims of auto-da-fe." (I didn't always know that the Inquisition wasn't officially ended until the early 1800's! So Poe's "Pit & The Pendulum" was written within recent memory of the Inquisition.) When I looked at one of the News sites this morning I was horrified to find out that the religious inspired assault on Women that is going on in the Virginia State Legislature has now spread to Pennsylvania State Legislature.I think we'll find as we read CM that these were the kinds of people Melville was satirizing, and that religious hypocrisy is a constant theme. Maybe this is one reason Melville lost "Market share" when he began bringing up these themes in MD and CM.


message 21: by Azaghedi (new)

Azaghedi | 19 comments Mod
Thanks for the info. I think the ire he drew from the religious began before MD even, though; "Omoo" was pretty critical of missionaries, and "Mardi" seemed little more than a full assault on the very nature of faith. I've got to get to reading Hershel Parker's biography soon; I'm interested in learning more about Melville's own religious beliefs.


message 22: by Donald (last edited Feb 28, 2012 05:35AM) (new)

Donald (donf) | 26 comments Steve you might want to read about Melville's trip to Palestine, I know there are several books about it. And the Poem "Clarel," which he must have devoted much time to writing and probably gives some good idea of his "Theology" in his later years. "Clarel's" on my wish list of books to purchase.


message 23: by Hershel (new)

Hershel Parker | 11 comments Steve wrote: "Thanks for the info. I think the ire he drew from the religious began before MD even, though; "Omoo" was pretty critical of missionaries, and "Mardi" seemed little more than a full assault on the v..."

It's clear that what we would call the Religious Right was out to silence Melville from the moment the Wiley & Putnam TYPEE was published. His having Ishmael claim to be a good Presbyterian was a deliberate affront to the Presbyterians who had attacked him for years. Remember that TYPEE after the middle of 1846 was available in the US only in an edition with all criticism of the missionaries removed. The 2006 Norton CM has a good deal of info about Melville's attitude toward Unitarianism.


message 24: by Azaghedi (new)

Azaghedi | 19 comments Mod
OK, guys, here's the schedule. We'll read "The Confidence-Man" for 6 weeks, though if we find ourselves engrossed in it and unable to prevent ourselves from devouring in much less time that half...there'll be no complaints from me.

But as it is right now, this is how we'll break down the readings week by week:

Week 1 (3/3-3/9): Chapters 1-7
Week 2 (3/10-3/16): Chapters 8-16
Week 3 (3/17-3/23): Chapters 17-22
Week 4 (3/24-3/30): Chapters 23-29
Week 5 (3/31-4/6): Chapters 30-39
Week 6 (4/7-4/13): Chapters 40-45

Since it seems that there's only a few of us reading, I don't think there's a need for a designated "group leader" or anything so dictatorial. We can all pose and answer questions, bring in relevant sources, etc., as we wish. We'll begin reading each block, formally at least, each Saturday. Each week will have its own topic where we can discuss the selection.

I'm creating the topic for the first week's discussion now. I'll post the link in here when I've done that. I'll also send out one final notice to every group member reminding them that we're starting tomorrow.


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