Moby Dick Monday: January 25, 2010 (Week 11)

Welcome to Moby Dick Monday! This is where we read four pages a day and then post about what we’ve read. Consider it an adventure of sorts!

My Story Re-Cap:

This week I read chapters 56-64. Melville goes to great lengths to explain, once again, the different portrayals of whales. If you think this re-cap resembles last week’s re-cap then you would be correct. Melville continues to discuss whales in paint, in wood, etc. I’m not 100% sure of his purpose in doing this, but I imagine he is trying to say that one cannot accurately depict the whale unless one has seen one up close, in battle.

The crew encounters a large mass:

In the distance, a great white mass lazily rose, and rising higher and higher, and disentangling itself from the azure, at last gleamed before our prow like a snow-slide, new slid from the hills. Thus glistening for a moment, as slowly it subsided, and sank. Then once more arose, and silently gleamed. It seemed not a whale; and yet is this Moby Dick? thought Daggoo. Again the phantom went down, but on re-appearing once more, with a stiletto-like cry that startled every man from his nod, the negro yelled out—”There! there again! there she breaches! right ahead! The White Whale, the White Whale!”

However, it is not the White Whale Moby, it is instead a giant squid.

A couple of chapters later, the crew does encounter a whale and Stubb sets to killing it. This chapter is especially gruesome but I secretly loved it. Not the actual act of course, but the details…oh the details! Melville is really good with details. When there is a little bit of action, I can almost feel the sea spray upon my face.  I say “when there is” because it’s not often that there is action. At least, not at 64 chapters in.

There was one chapter in this week’s reading that I found very humorous. Chapter 64, Stubb’s Supper. In this chapter, Stubb’s has a word (or two) with Cook over how whale is supposed to be cooked. Apparently Cook cooked it much too long. Here’s what Stubb has to say about it:

Well then, cook, you see this whale-steak of yours was so very bad, that I have put it out of sight as soon as possible; you see that, don’t you? Well, for the future, when you cook another whale-steak for my private table here, the capstan, I’ll tell you what to do so as not to spoil it by overdoing. Hold the steak in one hand, and show a live coal to it with the other; that done, dish it; d’ye hear? And now to-morrow, cook, when we are cutting in the fish, be sure you stand by to get the tips of his fins; have them put in pickle. As for the ends of the flukes, have them soused, cook. There, now ye may go.

My Rambling Thoughts:

I know many readers studied this book in college and dreaded the required reading but I sort of wish that I had had that experience. The opportunity to pick it apart and to discuss it as a group would have been very worthwhile. We are doing this in a sense with this read-along, but a real life conversation would be so lively, don’t you think?

Reading Along With Me:

Jill of RhapsodyinBooks
Dar of Peeking Between the Pages
Eva of A Striped Armchair (completed!)
Wisteria from Bookworm’s Dinner
Gavin from Page247
Claire from kiss a cloud
Sandra from Fresh Ink Books

For those that are participating, share your post links in comments. What do you think so far? Oh, and if anyone wants to join us just leave me a message below.

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4 Responses

  1. I thought Stubb’s Supper was humorous in a way, but I also didn’t like the way he treated the cook. For example, I loved the sermon to the sharks that the cook gave, but I hated that Stubb made him do it.

    I agree with you, this book would be totally fun to study and would definitely yield up a whole semester’s worth of discussions!

  2. how much longer will this go on?!?! lol. seriously, i feel for you. sometimes it’s easier to read a classic like this with a group so you can have the give and take of conversation and discussion about it. keep on keeping on! :)

  3. More power to all of you continuing to read this classic. O my.

  4. That passage is great! I love the “show a live coal to it with the other.” So funny! And giant squid really freak me out. I think it’s a throw-back reaction to watching 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea as a young child.

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