Monday, November 22, 2010
Reading the Classics with Paul- Moby-Dick- Week 10
I really don't think I have a lot to talk about this week as this week's reading remarkably resembled last week's reading. A couple of chapters on whaling, specifically on whale anatomy, followed by a whaling account. This week's whaling account featured being chased by native islanders (who I was secretly rooting for) and a pod of many whales.
The week's reading ended with a chapter about the British practice of the whole, if not all, of any whale captured in British seas belonging to the royal family. An account is given of some poor sailors whose whale is appropriated by a government official. The story is rather blatantly manipulative in its anti-Crown attitude and while there may be truth in the observation, one of the more difficult struggles with Melville and I has been than I don't find Melville to be a particularly interesting thinker. Or an original one by any means. He's a man of his time and he is, in my estimation, inelegant in presenting his thoughts. His metaphors are so close to the surface that you can see their blowhole a mile away. Which I think I find even more discouraging than the repetitiveness.
I read Moby-Dick when I was in college for Professor James "Killer" Miller's American Literature class (the nickname was given him by other students on account of his difficult tests. I never really understood the epithet as I excelled in his classes.) The advent of the internet has been a boon to civilization and here I remark on an extremely micro-level. Try as I might, I have no memory of my reaction from that earlier reading by that earlier Paul. I really wish I did. I am very glad that now I will have a record I can look back on and see how I felt now in times to come. So, I thought I would take a moment and make a brief argument in favor of journaling on what you are reading. Not only may it help others but at the very least it will be there for you fifteen years from now when you think "You know, maybe I should try to read Moby-Dick again."
What I do recall from my earlier reading is the impression that there was a great density of chapters on whaling information. I also remember a few plot points to come which I find myself encouraged to know are still coming. I haven't lost hope that exciting passages may be in my near future.
Next week we shall read through Chapter XCIX which, in my text, brings us up to page 401. If I'm counting correctly, we have four weeks left in this series.