“Now the Lord had prepared a great fish to swallow up Jonah.”
My edition of “Moby-Dick” is as battered as a paperback can get. Dinged, dented, creased, and folded over. It’s lived inside my briefcase and computer bag for weeks and joined me on a couple of business trips and on a sub-tropical vacation.
The first trip was to
It seemed an apt setting for the topic of quarter decks on whaling vessels.
I read another whale-sized chunk returning to
But I did learn about the Specksynder – which means “chief harpooner.”
Next was a business trip to
But I did get to experience the Pequod’s first kill as the second mate, Stubb, harpooned a Sperm whale. Except for the first 30 pages, it was the best part of “Moby-Dick” so far in the novel. When Melville focuses on the “story” of “Moby-Dick” his prose is wonderfully rendered. The words sing.
Then it was off on a week-long vacation to
But I made a major dent in the book. I ate up a lot of the story and also hit the most difficult and irritating part (which made the mind-numbingly boring “Cetology” chapter seem refreshing and breezy).
Chapters like “The Fountain” (all about the whale’s spout) and “The Tail” (yes, it’s an entire section on a whale’s tail) were bone-jarringly technical and contained more detail about whaling and whales than anyone in his right mind would want. I nearly tossed the book into the swimming pool.
But I got muddled through it.
It has taken me much longer than I had hoped to get this far along in “Moby-Dick” and despite strong urges to put it down or burn it or start something new (I’ve got a stack of new books on my shelf calling my name), I’ve been doggedly determined not to let Melville beat me this time.
I keep telling myself that the third time will be the charm. So I’m going to finish – even if I have to harpoon myself. The good news is that I see the end now. And the chapters about boiling whale meat and the critical review of what kind of whale may have actually swallowed Jonah appear to be behind me.
Soon Ahab and Moby-Dick will meet.
I’m eagerly awaiting that encounter and praying it lives up to Melville’s frustrating and hyper-detailed build up.
Progress to date: Page 530 of 655.StumbleUpon | Digg | del.icio.us | Reddit | Technorati | E-mail