I did it. Actually two weeks ago, but I thought I’d give myself time to think up something to say. Didn’t work. I got nothin’. Except, yay, me! for finishing it. I finally get the line about the whaling chapters – how it would be good if it weren’t for the whaling chapters. Ha! It wouldn’t be anything without whaling chapters. Though I could live without 1) Bad pictures of whales in existence 2) good pictures of whales in existence 3) the list of whales known at the time. Though all in all, good digressions outweighed bad.
Photo by Jenny Dean
I didn’t find Moby Dick that bad. Once I buckled down and gave it serious attention, it’s quite readable most of the way and in the beginning even funny. Is it the greatest American novel as many claim? Mmm, I dunno. It certainly seems to make a fine coatrack for many interpretations – the whale is God, Ahab is man destroying the environment, I don’t know what-all. Melville himself thought it a blasphemous book, so maybe the whale is God. I don’t know. It could be a lot less significant than that. Ahab says stuff that I believe counts as blasphemy. I’m not really into that so you’ve got to be pretty blatant for me to pick up on it. It has some weird passages which for some people I think make the book.
I would like to say something interesting about Moby Dick, something to give you a clue as to whether you would like it or not. Or something amusing. Or clever. I think the first third or so when you meet Ishmael and Queequeg and get their different takes on various things and interactions is more enjoyable than the rest. Ishmael’s voice sort of disappears for the most part and Queequeg does too. Ahab and his men become more central and they aren’t all that interesting. Ahab in particular has but one thought. Of course, that’s the major point of the novel, but other peoples’ obsessions are almost always tedious and Ahab’s is no exception.