Moby Dick by Herman Melville

90 pages left…and the most difficult ‘read’ of my adult life.  I have read the various literary perceptions of the novel, Moby Dick by Herman Melville, and 340 pages in, can’t agree that this is a fine example of American Romanticism!  Perhaps I have been missing something as I’ve been inching my way through this elaborate description of the physical structures of various whales, and the hunting, the harvesting, the hanging and cooking- down of the various whales.  This ‘classic’ has been a struggle.  I would love to know other reader’s perceptions of this novel.  I’ve never thought to ask anyone, “Have you read Moby Dick?”  I just assumed that everyone else had and that I had been ‘late to the bloom’.  Now, I truly wonder who, like me, would invest such time and thought to absorbing and making sense of this. 

Initially, I thought the book was ‘genius’, as Ishmael met Queequeg at the onset and then the two boarded the whaling ship, the Pequod.  To be positive, this book has enlightened my art work, in terms of the complete and exact descriptions about the whaling ships, but this certainly hasn’t been my typical evening reading!  It has been very challenging…given its apparent symbolism and mysticism.  I’m remaining optimistic, now that I’ve read about the Pequod’s blacksmith…and I’m anxious to finally meet Moby Dick. I hope to gain clarity in the remaining chapters.  Your perceptions of the novel are welcomed!

I agree with this…

Moby-Dick contains large sections—most of them narrated by Ishmael—that seemingly have nothing to do with the plot but describe aspects of the whaling business. Melville believed that no book up to that time had portrayed the whaling industry in as fascinating or immediate a way as he had experienced it. Early Romantics also proposed that fiction was the exemplary way to describe and record history, so Melville wanted to craft something educational and definitive. Despite his own interest in the subject, Melville struggled with composition, writing to Richard Henry Dana, Jr. on May 1, 1850:

I am half way in the work … It will be a strange sort of book, tho’, I fear; blubber is blubber you know; tho’ you might get oil out of it, the poetry runs as hard as sap from a frozen maple tree; — and to cook the thing up, one must needs throw in a little fancy, which from the nature of the thing, must be ungainly as the gambols of the whales themselves. Yet I mean to give the truth of the thing, spite of this.[19]

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