Monday, June 22, 2009

Book Review : Moby Dick - Herman Melville****

Even as I approached this tome, this treatise on the practices and morality of the whaling fisheries, this compendium of the knowledge of men both ancient and modern in the ways of catching the leviathans of the deeps, I felt in myself such an uprushing, an uprising within my very body as if if the foam atop the endless waves was surging through my torso, an effluxtion of elan such as Eve from the rib must have experienced at God's enervation. Still I paused in some trepidation, wiser scholars than I had attempted the task which I had set myself, and on their travels through this literary mammoth, unlike Saul they received no revelation about the deeper secrets and myths contained within, they stumbled on the Damascus road and fell. I girded my very soul, bound it around as if bands of iron could be placed upon it to prevent it straying from this onus, and placed one hand, the right, for it should be remembered that no fair man will place his left hand first upon the cover of a tract of such mighty caliber, only a wild man, a savage, even one as noble as Queequeg himself, but unhallowed for all his learnings might do such a thing and in his guileless fashion not expect the anger of a righteous God to strike him.

And so on and so on for five hundred densely written pages. Oddly, despite Melville's compulsion to always use twenty five words where six would do, I rather enjoyed Moby Dick. As well as the story of anger, vengeance and compulsion which surfaces here and there in the book, you get probably the best historical record of life on a whale ship and the detailing of every part of the business of whales and whaling then known, Melville certainly does not skimp on the detail.

That was heavy going though, I'll think I'll have something a bit lighter for my next read.

1 comment:

  1. i enjoyed the chapter on the differences between manhattan and new england clam chowder