PDF/EPUB Herman Melville ´ Moby Dick or The Whale PDF ´ Moby Dick PDF or or The ´

It is the horrible texture of a fabric that should be woven of ships' cables and hawsers A Polar wind blows through it and birds of prey hover over it So Melville wrote of his masterpiece one of the greatest works of imagination in literary history In part Moby Dick is the story of an eerily compelling madman pursuing an unholy war against a creature as vast and dangerous and unknowable as the sea itself But than just a novel of adventure than an encyclopaedia of whaling lore and legend the book can be seen as part of its author's lifelong meditation on America Written with wonderfully redemptive humour Moby Dick is also a profound inquiry into character faith and the nature of perceptionThis edition of Moby Dick which reproduces the definitive text of the novel includes invaluable explanatory notes along with maps illustrations and a glossary of nautical terms


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    LISA Dad you can't take revenge on an animal That's the whole point of Moby DickHOMER Oh Lisa the point of Moby Dick is 'be yourself' The Simpsons Season 15 Episode 5 “The Fat and the Furriest” Ahoy Matey Thar be spoilers aheadThere there Stop your crying You didn’t like Herman Melville’s Moby Dick? You didn't even finish it? I’m here to tell you that’s okay You’re still a good person You will still be invited to Thanksgiving dinner You won’t be arrested incarcerated or exiled You will not be shunned except by English majors they will shun you Your family and friends will still love you or at least stand you Your dog will still be loyal your cat though will remain indifferent Moby Dick can be a humbling experience Even if you get through it you may be desperately asking yourself things like “why didn’t I like this” or am I totally missing something” or how long have I been sleeping? See Moby Dick is the most famous novel in American history It might be the great American novel But in many ways it’s like 3 D movies or Mount Rush it’s tough to figure out why it’s such a big deal I suppose any discussion about Moby Dick must start with thematic considerations It is after all “classic” literature and must be experienced on multiple levels if at all So what’s the point of Moby Dick? Is it about obsession? The things that drive each of us in our ambitions whether they be wealth hate prejudice or love? Is it a deconstruction of Puritan culture in colonial America? Is it a Joseph Campbell style hero’s journey? Is it a good ol' yarn of men against the sea? Is it all of these things?PerhapsIs it a colossal bore?Decidedly Now I hate to use that word the b word Boring It means so little It means nothing It is the ultimate grade school criticism subjective vague and expressing annoyance at having been forced to experience the thing at all To say something is boring implies that nothing happens when in fact something is always happening Whether or not that happening is exciting is another question Having said all that I found Moby Dick boring in the purest sense of the word On just about every page I felt a distinct lack of interest And this is not a response to the subject matter I love sea stories I enjoyed Nathaniel Philbrick’s In the Heart of the Sea and Steven Spielberg’s adaptation of Jaws Normally a novel about an obsessed man trying to harpoon a terrifying monster would be right in my wheelhouse What was the problem? More specifically what was my problem? Because despite what I say most people are going to blame me rather than Melville It all comes down to density I’ve never actually harpooned a whale or anything for that matter but I can only assume that it is slightly easier than finishing this turgid mammoth work of literature I found it almost impenetrable Like reading Hawthorne except it doesn't end ever I tried reading it three different times and failed In a meta turn of events the novel became like my white whale elusive and cagey an arch opponent I would get through the first few chapters all right The dinner at the Spouter Inn The homo erotically charged night two men share in bed Melville’s exquisitely detailed description of his breakfast companions You could plainly tell how long each one had been ashore This young fellow’s healthy cheek is like a sun toasted pear in hue and would seem to smell almost as musky he cannot have been three days landed from his Indian voyage That man next to him looks a few shades lighter you might say a touch of satin wood is in him In the complexion of a third still lingers a tropic yawn but slightly bleached withal he doubtless has tarried whole weeks ashore But who could show a cheek like Queequeg? which barred with various tints seemed like the Andes’ western slope to show forth in one array contrasting climates zone by zone Somewhere in the neighborhood of the fortieth page when Father Mapple starts to give his sermon I’d start to get a little restless A few pages into his fire and brimstone screed my mind would wander By the end of the chapter I’d realize that instead of paying attention to the text I’d actually started to amuse myself by trying to calculate my income taxes in my head And then I’d quit During one of my periodic bouts of self improvement which I regularly intersperse with bouts of day drinking I decided to finish this damn thing once and for all To do this I hit upon a plan I brought it to work and forced myself to read twenty pages a day at lunch No surfing the internet or listening to podcasts No chatting with coworkers Until I finished I would dedicate the hour to 20 pages of Melville As a result I 1 finished the book and 2 grew to hate lunch which is really quite a sad turn of events What did I learn? Not too much Moby Dick is about a milquetoast named Ishmael who sets out on a whaling ship called the Pequod Like many literary heroes he is a bit of an outcast Also following in the tradition of Charles Dickens’ tedious first person narrators he is a bit of a cipher Ishmael doesn't do much except offer endless exegeses on every aspect of whaling as well as stultifying digressions on topics too numerous to count don’t miss the chapter about how the color white can be evil Ishmael's pedagogic ramblings will soon have you pleading for the whale – or a squid or an eel or a berserk seagull – to eat him and eat him quickly but painfully so the book will end The Pequod is commanded by Captain Ahab the one legged nut who is obsessed with finding the whale that ate his now absent limb He's sort of the 19th century version of the psycho ex boyfriend who just can't seem to let go the past Ahab is an interesting character in the abstract Profoundly almost suicidally driven The obvious progenitor of Robert Shaw’s captivating performance as Quint in Spielberg’s Jaws However in the context of the book's thees and thous and utterly excessive verbiage and arcane sentence structure the sheen wears off mighty quick It’s one of those instances in which I’d much prefer someone to tell me about Ahab rather than read about him myself In other words I need an interpreter to translate from Ye Olde English to English The challenging language permeates Moby Dick Melville writes in a overly verbose grandiloquent style His book is packed with symbols and metaphors and allusions and nautical terms There were very few pages in which I didn't have to stop reading and flip to the back of the book to read the explanatory notes or consult the glossary There are digressions and soliloquies and even at certain points stage directions It is also a primer on whaling in case you wanted to learn The Pequod’s whale being decapitated and the body stripped the head was hoisted against the ship’s side – about half way out of the sea so that it might yet in great part be buoyed up by its native element And there with the strained craft steeply leaning over it by reason of the enormous downward drag from the lower mast head and every yard arm on that side projecting like a crane over the waves there that blood dripping head hung to the Pequod’s waist like the giant Holofernes’s from the girdle of JudithMaybe you are familiar with the giant Holfernes and Judith’s girdle Maybe you want to be familiar with them If so by all means proceed Melville’s other notable character is Queequeg the South Seas cannibal with whom Ishmael shares a bed at the Spouter Inn a scene that has launched a thousand dissertations Ishmael’s best friend on the Pequod Queequeg expresses the duality of man outwardly a tattooed savage he is also purveyor of what might be termed Christian ethics he gets along with people he turns the other cheek and he’s willing to jump into the ocean to save a stranger’s life The rest of the cast is too large to get into Besides they all run together in my mind For example I can’t tell you off the top of my head whether Starbuck or Stubb was the first mate Frankly I don't really care They all end up in the same place Hint think Jonah Melville really harps on this Biblical allusion as he harps on everything None of this is to say that Moby Dick lacks any charms There are passages of great beauty For instance there is a moment when Pip the black cabin boycourt jester falls out of one of the longboats and is left in the ocean Upon being rescued Pip is changed The sea had jeeringly kept his finite body up but drowned the infinite of his soul Not drowned entirely though Rather carried down alive to wondrous depths where strange shapes of the unwarped primal world glided to and fro before his passive eyes and the miser merman Wisdom revealed his hoarded heaps and among the joyous heartless ever juvenile eternities Pip saw the multitudinous God omnipresent coral insects that out of the firmament of waters heaved the colossal orbs He saw God's foot upon the treadle of the loom and spoke it and therefore his shipmate's called him mad I’m not going to lie and say I have the slightest idea of what that all means but it sure is pretty I suppose that was part of the allure that Moby Dick held for me Even though I often wanted to quit every once in awhile a passage would jump out at me and smack me across the face with its classicalness Unfortunately you have to wade through so much the mind becomes numb Moby Dick is quite simply a slog It is tedious Detail laden Attention demanding Then after 56 billion pages the climax comes in an instant and in a matter of a few pages everything you learned about the ship the knots that held the sails the crewmembers Ahab – everything – is for naught because it's all gone and the sea rolls on as it has for a thousand years In a way it's kind of cool to do it that way I mean that's life You don't always get a great death scene But on the other hand what a gypI realize my tone is preemptively defensive After all I consider myself a high functioning individual Like you I assume I don’t like being told “You just don’t get it” Oh no I get it At least I tried very hard to get it I just didn't like it And I’ll admit I didn't like having to try so hard This complaint is not simply a function of having my brain rotted by soda pop candy and first person shooter video games Rather there is an important argument to be made for clarity Some say Melville’s stylized prose is elegant I think it’s tortured Some find his allusions illuminating I find them hopelessly outdated Some discover a higher pleasure in unpacking each complex theme I just wanted to push Ishmael over the gunwale or hang him from the yardarm Melville can gussy things up as much as he wants He can toss off references to 19th century prizefighters Schiller’s poetry and the Bible he can discourse on civilization and savagery on man and God he can teach you every knot needed to sail a whaler and he can draw out enough metaphors to keep SparksNotes in business for the next hundred years Melville can do all these things but he can’t hide the fact that this is a story about some guys going fishing That’s it That simple story is the vessel for Melville’s explorations Upon this he heaps his complications Whether Melville’s technique is effective or not or whether Melville has convinced you that it’s effective is an open question Well not to me I think I’ve answered the question In short I would rather be harpooned fall off my ship get eaten by a great white shark and then have the great white shark swallowed by a whale then read this book ever again I can’t get any clearer than that