Even kings and queens rely on whale oil for their coronations. Commentary This is the first of more than forty chapters in which Ishmael halts the flow of the narrative to discuss some aspect of cetology the study of whales , the whaling business, or the whales reputation. Modern read- ers might well wonder why he does this. First, Ishmael tells us early on that he is going to sea to learn more of whales and whaling.
He hopes to establish this as a worthwhile topic; that is why he refers to biblical sources such as the Book of Job or the Book of Jonah, here and throughout the novel, which add to the whales reputation. Further enhancing the status of whales, he alludes to Alfred the Great A. D, king of Wessex who ended the Danish conquests in Eng- land; promoted English culture; and, Ishmael argues, wrote about whales. In addition, Melville grounds his story in reality by his sections on cetology. He wants to create at least the illusion of fact in the novel, and he does an admirable job of convincing the reader that these events could occur.
Finally, the reader should notice that the narrator is having a good time. For the most part, these chapters on cetology are not dull, dry, tedious accounts. The tone is light-hearted and sometimes even silly. In the chapter Postscript, Ishmael argues that the whaling industry provides royalty with coronation stuff because the oil used to anoint a new king or queen probably is whale oil: Think of that, ye loyal Britons! Ishmael argues like a formal debater or a lawyer speaking to a jury, but his goal is to entertain as well as to inform.
We might remember that Melvilles audience in the s consisted of more patient readers; they almost certainly had longer attention spans than we have today. A good book might last the winter, and Ishmaels wit would provide a wel- comed break. Glossary superfluous excessive, more than is needed. Summary Ishmael introduces some of the crew, beginning, in descending order under Ahab, with those in command. Chief mate is Starbuck, a thirty- year-old Quaker whose father and brother were killed in whaling acci- dents.
Second mate is Stubb, [g]ood-humored, easy, and careless, rarely seen awake without a pipe in his mouth. Third mate is Flask short, stumpy, and pugnacious. Each will command an open boat when in pursuit of whales and have his own harpooner. The rest of the crew is a widely varied mix representing many parts of the world. Commentary One of Melvilles consistent literary devices is the use of contrast.
Here he employs it to distinguish character. The first mate is a devout Quaker, no hypocrite like the Pequods co-owner Bildad. He is calm, prudent, steady, and courageous, but he tempers his courage with a healthy respect for danger and an allowance for fear. As the novel pro- gresses, Starbuck will contrast strikingly with Ahab, who is volatile, obsessed, wildly mad at times, and irreverent.
Having first choice of harpooners, Starbuck takes Queequeg. In a different light, Stubb and Flask also contrast with Starbuck and each other. Second mate Stubb is carefree, even careless. He loves a good joke and can be insensitive or deceitful, but he is a reliable seaman and whaler. Tashtego, an American Indian, will be his harpooner.
Third mate Flask is stumpy and unattractive while Starbuck is tall and hand- some ; more importantly, Flask lacks Starbucks intelligence and eleva- tion of character. The third mate is an adequate seaman but possesses none of Stubbs imagination or humor.
Flask thinks whales are his per- sonal enemies, contrasting with Starbuck who simply sees them as a means to a livelihood, but anticipating Ahabs more complicated hatred of Moby Dick. All the harpooners are especially proud men, understandably so because of their prestigious positions aboard ship. Isolated as it is, and carrying a crew representing many parts of the globe, the Pequod serves as a microcosm of our planet. Ishmael observes that many of the crew are ignorant or even evil men, but he recognizes that each also has the capacity for exceptional valor, dignity, or demo- cratic nobility.
Most are not stereotypes; their virtues contrast with their vices just as they do in real people in the real world. Glossary squire an attendant, especially to a medieval knight; here a reference to a harpooner. Critical Commentaries: Chapter 28 Summary After the Pequod has been at sea for several days, Ahab finally makes his first appearance. Ishmael tries to convince himself that Ahab has simply waited until the ship, sailing south, reached warmer climes. He describes the captain in emblematic ways. From that morning on, more is seen of Ahab. Commentary Suspense is an effective literary device that Melville employs to develop an atmosphere of uncertainty or anticipation in the novel.
The mystery surrounding Ahab and the voyage of the Pequod increases daily with Ahabs absence.
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Elijahs diabolical comments haunt Ishmael as he wonders about the captain and visually checks the rear of the ship, where the officer is quartered, whenever Ishmael is on duty. He tries to rationalize that Ahab is just waiting for warmer weather before he comes out of his cabin, but the captains absence increases the narra- tors sense of ominous concern. When Ishmael finally does see Ahab standing on his quarter-deck one morning, foreboding shivers run over the crewman.
He describes Ahab in emblematic terms that add to the mystery of the man. The language is especially effective here. The first we learn of the captains appearance is that he does not seem to be ill but looks like a man cut away from the stake, when the fire has overrunningly wasted all the limbs without consuming them.
Next we are told that Ahab looks like a sculpture of solid bronze; he is compared to an oak or some other sort of great tree. The captain has a prominent scar, lividly whitish, running from the top of his head down his face and neck until it disappears beneath his clothing. There is a grim look on the captains face, an infinity of firmest fortitude, a determinate, unsurrenderable willfulness in his visage.
This is all so overpowering that it takes Ishmael a few seconds to notice the lega barbaric, white, ivory prosthesis fashioned from the pol- ished bone of the sperm whales jaw. The lower tip of the artificial leg is anchored in a hole in the quarter-deck, apparently bored for that purpose. There is another such hole on the other side of the ship. The description indicates a man larger than life; touched by heavens bolt, for good or evil; and partly carved from a sperm whales jaw.
Glossary peremptory final, absolute, decisive. Cellini Benvenuto Cellini , Italian sculptor also known for his autobiography. Summary Ahab spends less and less time in his cabin. It feels like going down into ones tomb, he is heard to mutter. His nightly pacing on deck, his whale-jaw leg thumping, disturbs some of the crew below. When Stubb humorously asks the captain if the noise might be muffled, Ahab calls the second mate a dog and ten times a donkey, dismissing him.
Ahab finds no comfort in a smoke and hurls his lighted pipe into the sea. Stubb has a disturbing dream. Commentary These chapters cast further illumination on the character of Ahab. As the Pequod sails farther south and nears the area where whales might be found, its captain grows increasingly restless. His habit of walking the deck at night is particularly disturbing to some of the crew who are trying to sleep below. Stubbs cautious, good-natured attempt to have the captain somehow muffle the constant thumping of his artificial leg is met with hostility from Ahab.
Aboard a whaler in the mid-nineteenth century, Ishmael points out, the captain is king. We see further into Ahabs troubled soul after Stubb is dismissed. Lighting his pipe by the binnacle lamp, the captain sits for an apparent moment of serenity; his mind, however, takes no pleasure in peaceful contemplation. It is driven toward a single goal.
He casts the pipe into the waters as brusquely as he dismissed Stubb and resumes his pacing on the planks. We also learn more of Stubb. In addition to the biblical Ten Com- mandments Exodus ; Deuteronomy , Stubb has an eleventh Think not and a twelfth Sleep when you can. But this night, sleep brings no respite to Stubb. He dreams that Ahab kicks him with the old mans ivory leg. Ahab suddenly turns into a pyramid; as Stubb kicks at that, a hunchbacked badger-haired old merman calls him to desist and says that its an honor to be kicked by a man as wise as Ahab.
Like most of the rest of the crew, Stubb is confused and troubled by his captains behavior; but he is also drawn to the monomaniacal commander, respects him, sees him as a great man, and will follow Ahab anywhere. Glossary aught to any degree. Queen Mab in folklore, a fairy queen who controls peoples dreams.
Summary In one of many considerations of cetology the study of whales , Ish- mael tells us of various types of leviathan, of which he values the sperm whale most highly. His attention then shifts to life aboard ship as he discusses the chain of command and some of the ways in which this hierarchy is demonstrated in daily life. The narrator considers the beau- ties and dangers of serving watch at the masthead.
Commentary Melville breaks the intensity of Ahabs introduction with these informative chapters in which Ishmael considers types of whales as well as life aboard ship. Ishmaels discussion of the hierarchy of whales demonstrates his pride in, and the importance he places on, whaling. He has deepest admira- tion for the sperm whale. It is, he says, the largest denizen of the globe and the most formidable to encounter, earning any experienced whalers respect.
More important to the whaling business, it is also the most valuable type of whale because it is the leading source of spermaceti, a white, wax-like substance taken from the oil in the head and used to make cosmetics, ointments, and candles. To Ishmael, the sperm whale is a noble creature, adding significance to the business of whaling but also to Ahabs quest, of which we are just beginning to be informed. A whaling vessel also has a kind of hierarchy, a chain of command that is essential to discipline and efficiency.
Its effect can be seen in the daily lives of the men aboard. The crew on a whaler is quartered at the front of the vessel; the captain, mates, and harpooners sleep at the back of the ship. Of special interest is the respect shown the harpooners. In the old days, two hundred years before our story, authority aboard Dutch whalers was divided between the regular naval captain and a Specksynderliterally, a Fat-Cutter, but in fact the chief harpooner who controlled the whale hunt.
While this office no longer exists in the industry of Ishmaels time, dominated by Ameri- cans, harpooners are quartered with the officers, eat at the captains table after the other officers have finished, and receive considerable respect. Whaling is dangerous for all aboard, especially those posted to watch for whales in the masthead, the highest point on the ship. While the view can be awe-inspiring on a beautiful day, merely climbing to the masthead is dangerous.
Nor is this perch on a southern whaler, such as the Pequod, a protected crows nest as one might find on a ship in northern waters. It is an open perch with bars for holding on but no protection. When rough weather hits, the hapless sailor on masthead watch must fend for himself. Glossary penem. The narrator quotes this scholarly defini- tion of a mammal for the purpose of ironic humor.
He thinks a whale is a fish either way. Critical Commentaries: Chapter 36 Summary A few days after the incident with his pipe, Ahab spends a restless day in his cabin or pacing the quarter-deck. Near the end of the day, he issues an unusual order: The entire crew, even the masthead watch, is to assemble before him. Ahab briefly discusses procedure for announc- ing the sighting of a whale and offers a Spanish ounce of gold to the first man to spot the White Whale. He enlists the crews support in a mission to kill Moby Dick; only Starbuck objects. Ahab and the crew celebrate. Commentary In one of the most significant chapters in the novel, Melville employs a dramatic techniquecomplete with brief stage directions, dialogue, and rousing speech, as well as narrative intervention.
This is one of sev- eral dramatized chapters in the novel. The method is especially effec- tive here because it allows the reader to see how charismatic and forceful Ahab can be as a leader and speaker. As the day wears on, it is clear to Stubb that something important is stirring in Ahab. The second mate tells Flask that the chick thats in him [Ahab] pecks the shell.
This is the time that Ahab chooses to announce his true intentions to the crew and attempt to persuade the men to join him in a singular effort to hunt down the White Whale. Like a speaker at a political rally, Ahab first unifies the group by ask- ing a series of emotionally charged questions that call for unified responses: What do you do when you spot a whale? What do you do next? What tune do you pull to in pursuit? The men are increasingly excited, almost as if they are in the blood lust of a real hunt. Ahab then employs his prop, a Spanish gold ounce, offered to the man who first sees raises the White Whale.
He dramatically holds up the coin to the declining sun and nails it to the mainmast. The harpooners are the first to recognize the whales description the white head, wrinkled brow, crooked jaw, three holes in the starboard flukeas that of Moby Dick. Their enthusiastic confirmations, and the revelation that Moby Dick took off the captains leg, lead Ahab into an emotional appeal to the crew to join him in chasing the whale over all sides of earth, till he spouts black blood and rolls fin out. The men shout their enthusiastic approval.
The only abstention is from Starbuck who wants to stick to the business of accumulating whale oil and thinks it blasphemous to seek revenge on a dumb brutethat simply smote thee from blindest instinct! Ahab responds that he would strike the sun if it insulted me. This scene clarifies the primary difference between Starbuck and Ahab: Starbuck attributes no meaning to how and why things happen; Ahab interprets meaning in everything.
Scholars dispute whether Ahab considers Moby Dick to be a rep- resentative of evil or whether the captains vanity is so great that he wants to take on the structure of nature, even God himself. Is the whale evil, or is the evil in Ahab? The captain seems half-mad as he rants about attacking the inscrutable thing behind the mask, the force behind the faade that is the whale.
To understand Ahabs obsession, we must try to understand what he really wants to kill. Is it the whale or a power he sees behind the whale? These are questions to consider as the novel progresses. A convincing argument can be made that Ahab wants to be God and is offended that he should have to bear the insult of any authority beyond himself. The inscrutable thing dares to limit Ahabs role in the world. Ahab thinks that he is filled with a superhu- man power, an interior electricity that would kill mere mortals.
As he offers wine to the three harpooners, ceremonially celebrating a com- mitment to a unified cause, the scene has the impact of a diabolical black mass. Ahab is a powerful man, charismatic, obsessed, even mad, and he has all but one of the crew under his control. Glossary perdition damnation, Hell. Summary As evening turns into night, various characters react to the events of the day.
At sunset, Ahab, in his cabin, is pleased with the ease with which he swayed the crew and is outspoken in his determination. At dusk by the mainmast, Starbuck feels incapable of changing his cap- tains plan and is resigned to his role. At the nights first watch 8 p. At midnight, in the forecastle some of the crew and harpooners are still partying and drinking wine.
Commentary In these chapters, Melville continues to present dramatic scenes, using brief stage directions, soliloquy, and dialogue. There is no narra- tion from Ishmael. In addition to progressing the plot, Melville is able to offer the reader character insights through the thoughts and speech of Ahab, Starbuck, Stubb, and assorted crewmen. Through his cabin windows at the back of the ship, Ahab can see the white and turbid wake of the ships passing and thinks of it as his own momentous impress on the world. His vanity includes an appar- ent pride in being what he calls demoniac; as he says, he is madness maddened!
He mocks the gods and is determined to be both the prophet of his revenge and its executioner. Starbucks response contrasts with most of the crews in a revealing way. The first mate recognizes that he is no match for his captain and is resigned to Ahabs Heaven-insulting purpose; yet he fears the omi- nous future. Stubb typically tries to laugh at the predestinated situation and sings a drinking song. An excep- tion is young Pip, the cabin servant who finds terror where the rest see cause for jollies. We will learn more about his insights in Chapter Glossary turbid thick, dense, and dark.
The ringing of a bell marks each half hour of the watch. Summary Ishmael returns as narrator to tell us what he has heard of the White Whale. Because his information is all hearsaysomething he has heard from others but cannot yet provehe concedes that much of it may be exaggerated. In fact, Moby Dick has already become a sort of legendary figure, reputedly omnipresent he supposedly appears at different places at the same time and perhaps immortal and eternal, which Ishmael explains as being omnipresent in time.
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We learn more details of Ahabs loss of leg, and Ishmael considers the meaning of whiteness. Commentary Having presented Ahabs proposal and the crews reaction in dra- matic form, Melville returns the telling of the story to Ishmael. The nar- rator admits that he, like most of the crew, was overpowered by Ahabs charismatic appeal, although Ishmael anticipates the rest of the voyage with dread in his soul.
We already know a fair amount about the White Whale, which we might think of as a key character in the novel. In these two chapters, Ishmael expands on its physical description and considers reports that range from likely to fanciful. From Ahab and the harpooners Chap- ter 36 , and now from Ishmael, we learn that Moby Dick is an excep- tionally large sperm whale with a snow-white head, a wrinkled brow, a crooked jaw, an especially bushy spout, and three holes in the right fluke of his tail.
His hump is also white and shaped like a pyramid. The rest of his body is marbled with white. He fantails oddly before he submerges. One of Moby Dicks favorite tricks is to seem to be flee- ing but suddenly turn on his pursuers and destroy their open boats. Sailors attribute great intelligence and malignity to the White Whale. What is the White Whale to Ahab? Ishmael thinks that Ahab views the whale as an embodiment of all evil. It may be helpful to consider Ahabs comments in Chapter The irrepressible captain there sees Moby Dick as a mask, behind which lies a great power whose dom- inance Ahab refuses to accept.
Ahab himself says Chapter 41 that his means are sane but his motive and object are mad. However, Ahab may not be the best judge. We are told that he was attacking the White Whale with only a six-inch blade, like an Arkansas duellist, the day that Moby Dicks lower teeth sliced away the captains leg as a mower would a blade of grass. That method of attacking the whale seems insane, driven by the captains excessive determination. Many scholars, including most notably Harold Bloom in Moby- Dick: Modern Critical Interpretations consider Chapter 42, The White- ness of the Whale, to be the visionary center of the novel and perhaps of all of Melvilles writing.
Students might note the rich ambiguity of Ishmaels inquiry into the significance of the whales visible absence of color. In that whiteness, Ishmael sees innocence and evil, glory and damnation in a nine-page chapter that is one of the most rewarding in the novel. We are not spoon-fed meaning by Melville. As with most great writers, he allows the reader to form his own conclusions. Ahab appears to be a great man but a madman; but what is Moby Dick? Glossary malignity intense ill will, a quality of being harmful or dangerous.
Summary One quiet night while working near the rear of the ship, one of the seamen hears a mysterious sound, perhaps a human cough, beneath the hatches of a part of the ship where the crew never is allowed. The source of the sound remains unidentified. Meanwhile, Ahab spends his evenings poring over charts of the worlds oceans, searching for patterns in the movement of whales. Ishmael feels it is time to swear certain facts to the reader so that we might believe the story that he is telling us. Commentary Some of the mystery of the voyage is still unexplained.
What were those shapes that Ishmael thought he saw entering the boat on Christ- mas morning? Are they related to the strange sounds heard below the hatches near the captains quarters? Ahab may know, but he is not talk- ing. The captain spends most evenings trying to guess where Moby Dick might be. Ishmael assures us that whales do migrate in certain patterns, but the sperm whales routes vary more than most, and its a big world.
In Chapter 45, Ishmael attempts to convince the reader that the story he tells is consistent with possibility. As if he were swearing an oath, Ishmael reveals that Ahab is justified in believing that his own harpoons still ride Moby Dick and that he may well be the one to kill the White Whale; such odd things have happened. Nor is it unique that Moby Dick is recognizable; so are several other sperm whales, some given names. Foreshadowing events later in the novel, Ishmael warns that hunting whales in an open boat is very dangerous and that sperm whales have even been known to attack and sink large ships.
Ishmael is concerned that, without these plain facts, historical and otherwise, the reader might scout at Moby Dick as a monstrous fable or, worse, an allegory. He asks us to suspend our disbelief, we must suspect, because this is a grand, mythic journey with so many tempting, hidden meanings. Ishmael asks us to stick to the story. Glossary scuttle-butt a container for drinking-water aboard ship; information passed at such a place.
Summary Ishmael speculates on Ahabs motivation for continuing to look for whales other than Moby Dick. As Queequeg and Ishmael work on a mat to lash to the boat, Tashtego spots a school of sperm whales and sounds the alarm, There she blows! Almost immediately, the men spring into action and begin lowering boats. Suddenly, five dusky phan- toms surround Ahab. Ishmaels boat is swamped in the ensuing whale chase, but all aboard escape with their lives.
Commentary Ishmael offers further insight into the captains character as he sur- mises that Ahab may continue to seek other whales because it is in his fiery whalemans nature or because he resents all whales. More likely, he suggests, Ahab realizes that his men need short-term goals and are interested in pursuits that will fill their purses. They also need some practice. As a wise leader, he encourages the hunt.
Ahab is also a very private man who tells the crew only what he thinks it should know.
Moby-Dick and Melville’s Anti-Slavery Allegory
The mystery of the shadowy figures on Christmas morning and the sounds below deck are solved when five aboriginal natives of the Manillas suddenly surround the captain at the first lowering. A whal- ing captain usually stays aboard ship during the actual hunt; during this voyage, Ahab will join the chase with the aborigines as his crew.
Their leader is a white-turbaned old man named Fedallah, of whom we will hear more later. There is a continuing aura of secrecy and per- haps even evil about the aborigines. Ishmael points out that some white mariners believe that natives of the Manillas are paid spies and secret confidential agents on the water of the devil, their lord.
Ishmael has previously discussed the dangers of pursuing whales in an open boat; here they are demonstrated. Chapter 48 is an exciting account of an unsuccessful whale chase, culminating in the loss of Star- bucks boat on which Ishmael is part of that days crew. Ishmael is amazed at the other mens light-hearted response to this near-death expe- rience. When he returns to the ship, he promptly draws his will.
Glossary surmises conjectures, speculations, guesses. Summary Without the owners knowledge, Ahab has brought aboard his own private crew of four oarsmen and the harpooner Fedallah. Except for Fedallah, their mystery soon fades; the Pequod crew works with and accepts the aborigines as able seamen. Weeks pass, and the ship approaches the southern tip of Africa. On a moonlit night, Fedallah spots a silvery spout in the distance. Commentary These chapters provide further insight into the character of Fedal- lah, who still remains an inscrutable figure. He moves about like a phantom and seems to have an odd influence over Ahab.
Ishmael com- pares him to a type of ancient, ghostlike figure, which one might find among the unchanging Asian communities. He may even be a demon. The silvery spout, which Fedallah first spots in the distance while standing mainmast watch at night, adds to the mysterious atmosphere. Try as it might, the Pequod can never catch up to it.
Sometimes it dis- appears for days at a time. The vision, if thats what it is, seems to appear and vanish at will, repeatedly, but is seen only at night. Some of the men claim that it is Moby Dicktaunting, luring, beckoning them to follow, again and again, until the White Whale can at last turn and destroy them.
Rounding the Cape of Good Hope, at the southern tip of Africa, the ship finally loses the silvery specter, which is replaced by very real winds and rough seas. Glossary vicissitude a condition of constant change or alternation, mutability. Beelzebub a chief devil; sometimes used for Satan. Summary Ishmael defines gam and comments on the Pequods first two gams of this voyage. The initial opportunity for communication with another ship is aborted when the captain of the Albatross drops his speaking trumpet in strong winds.
The second ship, the Town-Ho, oddly features a crew that consists, primarily, of Polynesians. There is a long story behind this, and Ishmael delights in telling all the details. Commentary We learn more about sailing customs of the time in these chapters. Of equal interest are the continuing insights into the characters of Ahab and Ishmael. But first we must understand the definition of a gam.
In the chapter of that name, Ishmael explains that a gam is a social meeting of two or more ships, generally on a cruising ground. The crews visit each other, the two captains on one ship and the chief mates on the other. Newspapers might be passed from the ship most recently in port. Likewise, the outward-bound vessel might have letters for some of the other ships crew.
In exchange, the ship longer at sea reports its sightings of whales. The area around the Cape of Good Hope is popu- lated by more ships than any other similar region in the world, we are told, and the American whalers especially enjoy a good gam. An excep- tion is Ahab who is interested only in the answer to one question: Hast seen the White Whale? The Pequod meets several other whalers on its journey halfway around the world; the monomaniacal Ahab has only the one interest in each. But he does allow a gam with the Town-Ho, which has seen the whale. Ishmael enjoys repeating the Town-Hos story just as he once told it, he says, to a group of Spanish friends at the Golden Inn at Lima, Peru.
This allows two interesting insights regarding Ishmael. In addition, we see in the Golden Inn an Ishmael who is much more mature, expe- rienced, and sure of himself than the rookie whaling sailor who is on the Pequod. The story itself is a yarn within a yarn, told within the framework of the novel, involving a crisis at sea for the Town-Ho.
During its cur- rent journey, the ship sprung a leak. In an attempt to keep it afloat, the crew was driven unreasonably. Suddenly Moby Dick appeared. Being stalwart whaling men, the crew took after the White Whale but harvested only disaster. A nice touch in Ishmaels story telling occurs when Moby Dick rises to expose a bit of the red woolen shirt of one of his victims, stuck between the White Whales teeth like a bit of tomato. Most of the crew survived the episode with the White Whale but abandoned ship and were replaced at a nearby island: thus the mostly Polynesian crew.
Summary Ishmael considers assorted depictions of whales in art, disapproving of most but conceding that some are more nearly accurate. Returning to the story, the Pequod comes upon vast meadows of brit, upon which the right whale feeds.
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As the ship heads for Java, Daggoo, on watch, spots a great white mass in the distance and cries out that it is the White Whale. It turns out to be a giant squid. Ishmael discusses the strength and usage of the whale line in open boats. Commentary Ishmael is annoyed by the inaccurate manner in which whales and whaling are depicted in art. He recommends going a whaling your- self if you seek even a tolerable idea of his [the whales] living contour. Of course, that can be a dangerous venture, resulting in ones death, so perhaps it is best to leave it alone.
Only a couple of French engravings come close to depicting the whale and whaling scenes accurately, accord- ing to Ishmael. He also respects the paintings of an artist he calls Gar- nery Louis Garneray, ; the mistaken spelling may be intentional, to add authenticity to Ishmaels riff; he claims not to know who the then-famous artist is. Ishmael informs us further of life at sea. He considers the ecology of the ocean as he discusses vast areas of brit, a minute, yellow substance that collectively looks like fields of ripe and golden wheat.
The scene is peaceful enough as the right whales feed on the brit, reminding Ish- mael of mowers cutting a meadow. But there is also a terrible violence in the sea. Creatures feed upon each other, and even the great sperm whale is subject to a cruel fate from nature or man. Again Ishmael warns that the ocean is an especially dangerous place for people.
The chapter on the line, or rope, returns to an immediate consid- eration of the whaling industry. Manila ropes are only two-thirds of an inch thick, but they are amazingly strong, due to their quality and tight weave, and bear a strain nearly equal to three tons, the narra- tor tells us. On one end is secured a harpoon.
During the hunt, the rope is carried coiled in a tub on the open boat. The lower end is free but can be linked to another boats line if the whale sounds dives deep underwater ; or it can be secured to the boat so that a fleeing whale carries the boat with it. With even a slight error, the line can take a sailors arm, leg, head, or entire body with it, which foreshad- ows a key event at the end of the novel. Glossary extant still existing, not extinct.
Vishnu in Hinduism, the second member of the trinity, called the Preserver. Summary In these chapters, Ishmael gives an account of a successful hunt and its immediate aftermath. Spotting a large sperm whale about yards from the boat, the crew springs into action. Stubbs boat makes the kill, and the second mate celebrates with a whale steak for supper.
Stubb harasses Fleece, the African-American cook, and prods him into deliv- ering a sermon to sharks who are attacking the whale carcass. Commentary Melville uses idiomatic dialogue to provide character insight in this section of the novel. This is part of a realistic portrayal of a successful whale hunt, but a modern audience may question the effect. It begins with Queequeg, from whom we have not heard much since the ship set sail.
Some of the men believe that the giant white squid was an omen of bad luck, but Queequeg takes a practical approach reflecting his considerable experience as a harpooner: When you see him quid,. He is correct; the sperm whale soon appears. Stubb is an able seaman but a coarse prankster. After making the kill, he calls for the black cook, Fleece, to prepare a steak in celebration. Nothing that Fleece does seems to be satisfactory. Stubb apparently thinks of himself as quite a wit and superior to Fleece in every way as he summons the chef: Cook, cook!
Stubb complains that the whale steak, though reddish, is too well done and tender; he wants it tough! Fleece speaks in the stereotypical dialect too often assigned to African Amer- icans in the literature of the day. Preaching to the sharks, he says, Stop dat dam smackin ob de lips! Massa Stubb say dat you can fill your dam bellies up de hatchings, but by Gor! Perhaps we should remember that it is Stubb doing the harassing, not Ishmael or Melville. However, there are no repercussions for the second mates abusive badgering. The publication date of the novel was , almost a dozen years before the Emancipation Proclamation, which technically, if not yet effectively, ended slavery in the United States and its territories.
The extended scene between Stubb and Fleece probably is supposed to be funny. Glossary The Crotch a notched, perpendicular stick that holds two harpoons for quick accessibility. Summary The account of the aftermath of the hunt continues as the crew uses blocks and tackles, harpoons, and other slicing devices to harvest the blanket of blubber from the whale. The whales head is removed because that is where the valuable spermaceti can be found. With a small whale, the head might be taken aboard; with one as large as this days kill, the head is only lifted partially out of the water and worked on from above, at the side of the ship.
Ishmael compares the abandoning of the carcass to a funeral. Commentary The tone of these chapters is objective and businesslike, broken by a further insight into the characters of Ishmael and Ahab. Did you get your certificate from Power Moby Dick? Thanks for all your links. Hayes wrote: "We made it! Jan 29, PM. I posted a link in vikk's group, in the epilogue. You have to take a little quiz and then you can get your certificate.
Oh dear Don't worry, it's not hard. Jan 30, PM. Nice review, Laura. I never thought I'd read the book, let alone enjoy it. This is definitely a book that lends itself to a group situation. I found some of the writing about the whales themselves to be beautiful. Of course there were some chapters I could have done without, but not really very many.
Jan 31, PM. I think the idea of MB's project was splendid in the sense to promote this huge work written by Meville. I've learned a lot and I really admire this masterpiece. Jul 26, PM. Jul 27, AM. Oct 23, AM.
Feb 11, PM. Thanks Robert. Each affordable volume reflects Oxford's commitment to scholarship, providing the most accurate text plus a wealth of other valuable features, including expert introductions by leading authorities, voluminous notes to clarify the text, up-to-date bibliographies for further study, and much more. The most generous one-volume collection ever published of short stories, autobiographical writings, poetry, and essays by the writer Yeats called 'Ireland's Chekhov.
Truly, a literary momument to a great writer. It was Robert Graves's primary reference source when he was writing I, Claudius. Suetonius composed his material from a variety of sources, without much concern for their reliability. His biographies consist the ancestry and career of each emperor in turn; however, his interest is not so much analytical or historical, but anecdotal and salacious which gives rise to a lively and provocative succession of portraits.
The account of Julius Caesar does not simply mention his crossing of the Rubicon and his assassination, but draws attention to his dark piercing eyes and attempts to conceal his baldness. The life of Caligula presents a vivid picture of the emperor's grotesque appearance, his waywardness, and his insane cruelties. The format and style of Suetonius' Lives of the Caesars was to set the tone for biography throughout western literature--his work remains thoroughly readable and full of interest. Indeed, it was Robert Graves's primary reference source when he was writing I, Claudius, and those who have read his book will enjoy the original accounts as set down here.
Alexandre Dumas's epic novel of justice, retribution, and self-discovery--one of the most enduringly popular adventure tales ever written--appears here in a newly revised translation. This newly edited version of the original nineteenth-century English translation speeds the narrative flow while retaining all the essential details of Dumas's intricately plotted and thrilling masterpiece. The classic nineteenth-century translation has been revised and updated by Peter Washington, with an Introduction by award-winning novelist Umberto Eco.
An anthology of the masters of the Russian language, the Everyman's Library Pocket Books series has provided the reader with a comprehensive list. Lermontov, Pasternak, Fet, Tsvetayeva, Esenin, Pushkin, Akhmatova, Nekrasov, Mandelstam, and others round out a list of brilliant poets ranging from a variety of dates and styles. In one volume, a trilogy of brilliant novels - The Sportswriter, Independence Day, and The Lay of the Land - that charts the life and times of one of the most beloved and enduring characters in modern fiction. Not since Updike's RabbitAngstrom, has there been as defined a character of life's evolving, dissolving vicissitudes.
With finely honed prose and an eye that captures the most subtle nuances of the human condition - all its pathos and beauty and strangeness - Richard Ford transforms this ordinary man's life into a riveting, moving parable of life in America today. Major Works By Percy B. Percy Bysshe Shelley was a Romantic poet of radical imaginings, living in an age of change. His tempestuous life and friendship with Byron, and his tragically early death, at times threatened to overwhelm his legacy as a poet, but today his standing as one of the foremost English authors is assured.
This freshly edited collection--the fullest one-volume selection in English--includes all but one of the longer poems, from Queen Mab onwards, in their entirety. Only Laon and Cythna is excerpted, in a generous selection. Shelley emerges from these pages as a passionate and eloquent opponent of tyranny and a champion of human possibility. In this new translation the brilliant and impassioned descriptions of Augustine's colourful early life are conveyed to the English reader with accuracy and art. Dispatches Everyman's Library, No. Few have depicted the surreal and littered face of combat with the same vivid and visceral craftsmanship of author Michael Herr.
In his modern classic, 'Dispatches,' Herr takes readers deep into the heart of the Vietnam war and through the seemingly indescribable physical and psychological trauma of war. Told with sharp and poetic prose, this haunting account of despair and disillusionment in the throes of combat was called by The New York Times Book Review 'The best book to have been written about the Vietnam War.
This delightful compendium brings together nineteen stories of love in all its forms, from infatuation and unrequited love to obsession and adultery. Featuring writers including D. Scott Fitzgeral, and more, 'Love Stories' is filled with tales that are perfect for snuggling, arguing, and breaking up,making it an enticing gift idea for lovers at any stage of life. The poetic traditionin Scotland has a long and distinguished history in three languages - English, Scots, and Gaelic - ann all are well represented here.
The most renowned and cherished poets - Robert Burns, Sir Walter Scott, Rober Louis Stevenson, Hugh MacDiarmid, and Muriel Spark among them - mingle with their lesser known but equally distinctive compatriots, including many of those who have emerged from the recent renaissance in Scottish poetry. The poems are organized by theme. This fine edition brings together three of Richard Yates's classic works.
Revolutionary Road, a finalist for the National Book Award, is the story of Frank and April Wheeler, an attractive, intelligent young couple who live on the assumption of their own superiority, with tragic consequences. It is now a major motion picture. In The Easter Parade, the author depicts two sisters, Sarah and Emily Grimes, whose childhood predisposes them to different yet unhappy fates.
In the stories in Eleven Kinds of Loneliness, readers witness men and women striving amid discouragement and diillusion. A literary legacy in one volume! These biographies of the great quattrocento artists have long been considered among the most important of contemporary sources on Italian Renaissance art. Vasari, who invented the term "Renaissance," was the first to outline the influential theory of Renaissance art that traces a progression through Giotto, Brunelleschi, and finally the titanic figures of Michaelangelo, Da Vinci, and Raphael.
This new translation, specially commissioned for the World's Classics series, contains thirty-six of the most important lives. Fully annotated and with a brand new package, Lives of the Artists is an invaluable classic to add to your collection. When Marco Polo returned to Venice after years in the east, few believed the fantastical tales of Mongol-ruled China which he brought back. To this day, 'The Travels of Marco Polo' remains a classic of travel writing.
Peter Harris has revised and updated the Wright and Marsden's translation, adding informative notes to observations which, while they may seem fantastical, were based on the real extravagance of Khubilai Khan's massive empire.
Everyman's Library Contemporary Classics. Included are seminal stories like 'To Room Nineteen,' in which a woman reacts against the oppression of her banal marriage with dreadful results; 'One off the Short List,' which traces the surprising conclusion to a seduction gone awry; 'The habit of Loving,' in which a lonely older man who takes a vivacious, young wife witnesses an unexpected reversal of intimacy. The chilling classic tales gathered in 'Ghost Stories' offer a remarkable variety of approaches to the theme of haunting.
James and Penelope Lively. In the hands of these masters, the ghost story ranges far beyond mere horror to encompass comedy and tragedy, pathos and drama, and even a touch a poetry. Roxana , Defoe's last and darkest novel, is the autobiography of a woman who has traded her virtue, at first for survival, and then for fame and fortune. Its narrator tells the story of her own "wicked" life as the mistress of rich and powerful men.
Endowed with many seductive skills, she is herself seduced: by money, by dreams of rank, and by the illusion that she can escape her own past. This edition uses the rare first edition text, with a new Introduction, detailed Notes, textual history and a map of contemporary London. This edition is the first to present the text as it originally appeared, indicating the changes Carlyle made to later editions. Appendices contain Carlyle's own extensive commentaries on his work. It is a blend of fantasy and realism and describes the shipwrecked Gulliver's encounters with the inhabitants of four places: Lilliput, Brobdingnag, Laputa, and the country of the Houyhnhnms"--Provided by publisher.
Don Quixote, originally published in two parts in and , stands as Cervantes' belated but colossal literary success. A work which has achieved mythic status, it is considered to have pioneered the modern novel. Don Quixote, a poor gentleman from La Mancha, Spain, entranced by the code of chivalry, seeks romantic honor through absurd and fantastic adventures. His fevered imagination turns everyday objects into heroic opponents and stepping stones to greater glory; each exploit serves as a comic, yet disturbing commentary on the psychological struggle between reality and illusion, fact and fiction.
This celebrated translation by Charles Jarvis offers a new introduction and notes which provide essential background information. Alomst every reader in the world knows of Victor Hugo's masterpiece 'Les Miserables. Now, acclaimed translator Julie Rose presents a full, unabridged rendition in a stunning new volume. Experience once again the story of Jean Valjean, sent to prison for trying to feed his family, who flees his chains only to be relentlessly pursued by police detective Javert. This is also the story of Cosette, Valjean's unsolicited charge, and her love for the activist Marius.
This is one of the greatest stories of all time remastered for a new generation's reading enjoyment. In her first published novel, Sense and Sensibility, Jane Austen presents us with the subtle portraits of two contrasting but equally compelling heroines. For sensible Elinor Dashwood and her impetuous younger sister Marianne the prospect of marrying the men they love appears remote.
In a world ruled by money and self-interest, the Dashwood sisters have neither fortune nor connections. Concerned for others and for social proprieties, Elinor is ill-equipped to compete with self-centered fortune-hunters like Lucy Steele, while Marianne's unswerving belief in the truth of her own feelings makes her more dangerously susceptible to the designs of unscrupulous men. Through her heroines' parallel experiences of love, loss, and hope, Jane Austen offers a powerful analysis of the ways in which women's lives were shaped by the claustrophobic society in which they had to survive.
This revised edition contains new notes, appendices, chronology, and bibliography. Four Seasons: Poems By J. In every season exists a wealth of details which help us all to understand not only who we are, and where we are in life. These shifts of falling leaves, glistening snows, blooming flowers, and beating sunlight help us to live and change with the seasons, and in this stunning addition to the Everyman's Pocket Library lovers of poetry will be given a gift that is golden all year around. This gem of a collection will continue to win minds for decades to come. The introduction reviews the few known facts about this early Shakespeare play and discusses the puzzling problems of its date and authorship.
The text has been freshly edited with the aim of presenting the play as revised for the first recorded performance in , with the addition of stage business from the prompt-copy from which the Folio edition derives. Apuleius's Golden Ass is a unique, entertaining, and thoroughly readable Latin novel--the only work of fiction in Latin to have survived from antiquity. It tells the story of the hero Lucius, whose curiosity and fascination for sex and magic results in his transformation into an ass.
After suffering a series of trials and humiliations, he is ultimately returned to human shape by the kindness of the goddess Isis. Simultaneously a blend of romantic adventure, fable, and religious testament, The Golden Ass is one of the truly seminal works of European literature, of intrinsic interest as a novel in its own right, and one of the earliest examples of the picaresque.
This new translation is at once faithful to the meaning of the Latin, while reproducing all the exuberance of the original. Growing up as a clergyman's daughter, Charlotte Bronte astounded the Victorian world with her works of depth and thoughtful characterization. In this volume from the Everyman's Library series, two of Charlotte Bronte's novels 'Shirley'and 'The Professor' come together in this beautiful volume. Both stories explore the complex themes of class, society and love.
Find out why Charlotte Bronte is a master of her art with this book. Compelled by his desire to "prevent the traces of human events from being erased by time," Herotodus recounts the incidents preceding and following the Persian Wars. He gives us much more than military history, though, providing the fullest portrait of the classical world of the 5th and 6th centuries. The Woman in White is the first and greatest "Sensation Novel. This new critical edition is the first to use the original manuscript of the novel. John Sutherland examines Collins's contribution to Victorian fiction, traces his practices as a creator of plot, and provides a chronology of the novel's complicated events.
King Lear, widely considered Shakespeare's most deeply moving, passionately expressed, and intellectually ambitious play, has almost always been edited from the revised version printed in the First Folio of , with additions from the quarto of Now for the first time, this new volume presents the full, scholarly edition to be based firmly on the quarto, now recognized as the base text from which all others derive.
A thorough, attractively written introduction suggests how the work grew slowly in Shakespeare's imagination, fed by years of reading, thinking, and experience as a practical dramatist. This editition consists of a new, modern-spelling text; a full index to the introduction and commentary; production photographs and related art.
The on-page commentary and detailed notes to this edition offer critical help in understanding the language and dramaturgy in relation to the theaters in which King Lear was first performed. Additional sections reprint the early ballad, which was among the play's earliest sources, and provide additional guides to understanding and appreciating one of the greatest masterworks of Western civilization.
This classic story of high adventure, manic obsession and metaphysical speculation was Melville's masterpiece. This edition includes passages from Melville's correspondence with Nathaniel Hawthorne, in which the two discuss the philosophical depths of the novel's plot and imagery. Pride and Prejudice has delighted generations of readers with its unforgettable cast of characters, carefully choreographed plot, and a hugely entertaining view of the world and its absurdities.
In this new edition Fiona Stafford considers the artistry with which Jane Austen creates her best-known story. Everyman's Library, No. With precision and wit, she movingly portrays the obstacles that impeded women's choices at the turn of the century, exposing the truths about American high society that its denizens most wished to deny. New York's Gilded Age was a time in which many, if not all, of the city's residents were forced to locate within themselves a spirit of vitality, survival, and whatever wealth they could muster.
Yet, far above the downtown tenements and working class slums of this new world, three well-to-do young adults were caught in a struggle of their own; to figure out just how love and emotion can prevail among the complexities of high society. The life and career of Kiev-born French novelist Irene Nemirovsky has only recently become known to English readers through the publication of her magnum opus 'Suite Francaise', which has ignited not only a new found respect for a previously untranslated author, but also created an insatiable hunger for more of her work.
Thankfully, the wait is now over and English speaking readers now have access to four of Nemirovsky's magnificent novels. In this volume, beautifully translated by Sandra Smith and introduced by novelist Claire Messud, readers will find the legacy, transcendent grace, and magnitude of this remarkable author's work so that they may finally share its glory. Preface by Robert MacFarlane. Burnsiana: A Bibliography of the William R. Lightest bumping to head of spine. Everyman's Library. With a Select Bibliography and a Chronology. Emil and The Detectives By Kastner.