Stubb, who lead the boat that killed the first whale of their voyage, has peculiar and very specific ideas about how to harvest a dead whale. In addition to pickling the fins and sousing the flukes, he must have a steak from near the tail immediately, and if it’s rare, it’s overdone. He chastises the cook for this and then orders him to preach to the sharks in the water eating said whale too noisily. Fleece the cook puts up with this nonsense and duly lectures the sharks.
You is sharks, sartin; but if you gobern de shark in you, why den you be angel; for all angel is not’ing more dan de shark well goberned.
Fleece missed his calling as a preacher, I think, though the sharks paid him no mind.
As you can see from the foregoing, this is a surreal book. I was supposed to report some chapters ago, but then, I was supposed to have read them last June. I decided to try and make an all out attempt to finish Moby-Dick and have that off my To Do list. Mysteries are fun, but the White Whale is a classic and will, in addition to fulfilling a couple of my increasingly-unlikely-to-be-finished challenges, allow me to have an opinion about Moby-Dick and love it, hate it, or shrug about it, I won’t have only half-read it. We learn in chapter 36 about 150 pages in Captain Ahab’s obsession. Starbuck at least has the nerve to tell him he’s nuts. I’m thinking that leaves 400 pages of tracking this damn whale. The book then goes into some strange chapters written like a play. Ishmael does not stand aloof. “A wild, mystical, sympathetical feeling was in me; Ahab’s quenchless feud seemed mine.”
But now I’m a hundred pages further on and quite a mishmash it is, too. Some of it a normal, well-told story of life aboard a whaler, but then there are odd chapters which were really unnecessary. Does anyone need to know which pictures of whales in 1852 were the bad ones? Or the good ones? Whales suffered as much as lions, probably more, from being depicted by people who had no idea what they looked like, but is it important to list them in this book? I think not. Although someone has helpfully gathered them together on the internet, so if you get to this chapter, it might amuse you to see the pictures discussed
At any rate, it may seem absurd, when it’s taken me since the beginning of June to read this far, to imagine I can finish it in a weekend burst of reading, but shush, if I don’t believe it, I’ll stop again and I really would like to get through it.