Moby-Dick Big Read, Chapters 21-35: Discussion

The same narrator has done my whole book. It is the podcast from ITunes. But it is a Librovox recording. They have a website and if this is any indication it is very well done. Very professional. Perfect inflections for all the different characters and situations. Give it a try.

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Brilliant suggestion! I am just past the mat-making chapter - 47 is it? and the extended metaphor used for Necessity - warp- and Free will - weft - is much more what I remember from my first reading of the novel. I studied it at college where the deal was always one author per week ie read the work, read the available critical opinion and then write your own response, covering about ten sides of A4 in handwriting - it was a long time ago.

This is probably why my memories of the actual book are a bit hazy, to say the least, so I am coming to most of it fresh.

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I listen to this book while I’m cleaning. ( I clean houses). So the stuff that doesn’t interest me all that much goes right in and out of my head. I guess the mat making fit into that category. This book is intriguing. So much was boring. But the narrator made me want to hang in there and when the author wasn’t measuring whales or describing some boat thing he was so interesting! I loved how he describes his characters and the personalities he’s given them. But for the love of Pete! 133 chapters before we meet the stupid whale? Were there no editors back then? I know it’s a classic and I’m just a cleaning lady but I’m being totally honest here. Anyway I’m saving the rest for a time when I can give it my undivided attention. I’ve invested too much time to miss a second of the action!

I missed the extended metaphor altogether too. I probably need to read some notes or take a class or something.

I’m sure you don’t! I just noticed that particular comparison because we had gone through so many chapters of factual information. Like you, I prefer the chapters where the action moves forward and the various characters interact. I particularly enjoyed the chapter where they keep seeing the mysterious waterspout.

I’ve just listened to the Town-Ho chapter, with its accounts of a mutiny. But what is it doing in the book at all?

Sometimes, with Nineteenth century novels - Dickens, for example - the wordiness and repetition can be explained by the fact that they were written as serials, in volumes and the writer was paid by the yard. But that does not seem to be the case with Melville - I’ve just consulted Wikipedia.

You are too kind to me! Yes I agree the Town -Ho chapter totally baffled me. I’d actually like to see some notes or commentary on some of this stuff. I just don’t have the background to understand why he wrote like he did. Pretty fun to get my feet wet here! Do you know what’s next?

I’m not sure that anyone knows why Melville wrote the book in this way - it must have been every bit as unusual when it first came out as it is now.
However, he obviously knew a thing or two about whaling and seamanship from his personal experiences, not to mention jumping ship and mutineering.
Then - and I’m remembering back a long time here, so don’t quote me - he seems to have been heavily influenced by the kind of religion in which the things of this world are seen as full of spiritual meaning and messages, so you can read the world like a book.
But it is things like the description of the ship three years at sea, and, indeed, little details like his comments on the character of British whaling ships which continue to entertain.

Thanks for the input. I finished listening to it today. I’m really glad that this group existed and I took the plunge. It truly is a book I won’t ever forget.