Tag Archives: Herman Melville

Moby Dick Slowest Readalong Ever

Actually, this is more of a read-behind for me.   I was supposed to have finished through c. 38 something like three weeks ago.  But I got distracted by Wittgensteins and then coffins and I don’t know what all.   Crushing electronic candies may also have been a problem.  So not much reading has taken place.   I hope to reform.

Oddly enough I was in Vancouver reading Moby Dick when in the text was a mention of Vancouver the Explorer.   In another meaningless coincidence, I saw a white whale while there.   A Beluga, not a sperm whale.  





So in this second part, we finally get to sea, we meet Ahab and we learn about his obsession with the white whale.   Which we knew already.   Because you pick that up just living in society.  It is definitely not as amusing as it was.  Wry observations from Ishmael are few and far between.    Personally I cannot fathom going around the world in a ship like they sailed in then, let alone tracking a single whale.   Does anyone know if they hang out in the same place year in, year out?   If they don’t, the odds of finding him are astronomically bad.   Of course, it is a novel, so he’s gotta find him, but it does seem a ridiculous premise.   Even as big a critter as a whale is a teeny, tiny speck in the broad and vasty deep.

Moby Dick Readalong Part the First

Okay, if you’re new to readalong posts, they’re full of spoilers.   As this is only the first section, chapters 1-20, the spoilers shouldn’t be too spoilery.   This readalong is hosted by Roof Beam Reader.  Many thanks to him, as I’m already further along in M-D then I’ve gotten before.   You’ve probably heard much the same things about Moby Dick that I have.   Classic, long, fascinating, but with long boring whaling chapters,  boring with long, boring whaling chapters, a story of obsession, whaling, and the opening line:  Call me Ishmael.  I have no idea why that’s a great opening line, but it is.   Something in the name.   Call me Fred just doesn’t have the same ring.

But one thing I don’t think I ever heard about Moby Dick is that it is funny.   Not laff riot or Tina Fey funny, but Ishmael is a great narrator and his wry observations are highly entertaining.   He’s also a more evolved person than millions around today.  I never had to read Moby Dick in school, and that’s in a way good as reading things in school frequently ruins them for people, but a whole lot of people could do with reading at least the first part of this book.   

Some of my favorite lines:

and especially whenever my hypos get
such an upper hand of me, that it requires a strong moral principle to
prevent me from deliberately stepping into the street, and methodically
knocking people's hats off--then, I account it high time to get to sea
as soon as I can.

PAID,--what will compare with it? The urbane activity with which a man
receives money is really marvellous, considering that we so earnestly
believe money to be the root of all earthly ills, and that on no account
can a monied man enter heaven. Ah! how cheerfully we consign ourselves
to perdition!
Ignorance is the parent of fear, and being completely nonplussed and
confounded about the stranger, I confess I was now as much afraid of him
as if it was the devil himself who had thus broken into my room at
the dead of night.

THAT was certainly very coolly done by him, and every one knows that in
most people's estimation, to do anything coolly is to do it genteelly.
"Fiery pit! fiery pit! ye insult me, man; past all natural bearing, ye
insult me. It's an all-fired outrage to tell any human creature that
he's bound to hell.

Heaven have mercy on us all--Presbyterians and Pagans
alike--for we are all somehow dreadfully cracked about the head, and
sadly need mending.

Betty, go to Snarles the Painter, and tell
him to paint me a sign, with--"no suicides permitted here, and no
smoking in the parlor;"--might as well kill both birds at once.

Ishmael and Queequeg's friendship, which develops rapidly after Ishmael gets over his initial fears,is charming. Queequeg's insistence upon Ishmael choosing the ship when they get to Nantucket seems unfortunate. Ishmael knows nothing of whaling, but even without that I think he really should have given more consideration to those other ships. I'd be happier knowing they had things wrong with
them more alarming than the behavior of Captain Ahab whom we haven't even met yet. He's not sick, but he's not well either. Really? You want to be at sea for three years with the man in charge
described in this fashion? Ishmael does have some misgivings, but he ignores them and I suppose he has to as otherwise, we wouldn't have this story, but still, I'd feel better if he went to the
other ships and either they wouldn't take him, or they were horribly disorganized or some reason the Pequod seems the best of the lot even with an iffy captain. But they are about to leave at last
and I suppose soon we'll get to the boring bits. So far it's not been dull at all. One last

for I cherish the greatest respect towards everybody's religious obligations,
never mind how comical

Moby-Dick Readalong

I have attempted Moby-Dick twice in the past, once in paperback and once in audiobook when I was sick.   Both times I enjoyed as far as I got, but that wasn’t very far.   Every chapter was read by a different person, some of them very famous:  Tilda Swinton, Stephen Fry, Bandersnatch Cummerbund.   I don’t generally do audio-books, but when I’m sick I usually can’t read and this helped a lot.  But then I got well and kind of let the whole thing drop, sad to say.

It’s here if you’re interested:   http://www.mobydickbigread.com/

I also have a print copy which oddly enough, I know where it is.   I may combine the two formats now as I am signing up for:





Hosted as you can see by Roof Beam Reader.   I flunked out of his Ulysses readalong in January, but I still hope to finish that.   The trouble being all these challenges I signed up for really don’t leave time for previously started books.   Someone should make a challenge like that.   But maybe other people don’t drop as many books in the middle as I do.  But that’s beside the point.

I hereby sign up for the Moby-Dick readalong.   I really hate hyphens.   I think I won’t be hyphenating it.  Hope 45 days is enough time.      It seems like it should be doable, unlike Ulysses which I knew from the beginning was too short a time frame for me.