Sunday, October 7, 2018

Moby Dick, or The Whale

Moby Dick, or The Whale by Herman Melville, 507 pages.
Melville's classic novel, written in 1851 stands up well to the test of time. Sure it has the racism and sexism of its time, but less so than many works written much later. The broad strokes of the book reflect the prejudices of its time more than the more detailed portraits of the principle characters. Queequeg, Tashtego, and Daggoo are judged by the author (to paraphrase the great MLK) more for their character as whalers than for their color of their skin.
Among these characters, Ishmael, the narrator, and Ahab, the obsessed captain have entered the shared consciousness, as have Starbuck, and Queequeg to a lesser degree. In the book itself we find the other wonderful characters that are also deserving of our attention and acclaim, Pip, Stubb and Flask, are there, as are Tashtego and Daggoo.
Melville's language is as strong as the characters he has drawn. Attributing the formality and cadence of his characters' speech to the Quaker roots of the Nantucketers among them, we encounter  many resounding, colorful, and hyperbolic speeches that jump off the page. Likewise, in his lengthy discourses on "cetology," and other nautical topics, Melville keeps the lengthy narrative flowing.
Not the slog I was expecting at all; a joy to read and / or listen to. The audio, narrated by Anthony Heald, is a lengthy, but enjoyable listen.

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