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I conquered the white whale

I finally finished reading Moby Dick (after putting it aside several times.) Thanks to all who put up with my commentary on each chapter when I first started reading it. I discontinued posting about it here and switched over to making handwritten notes in each chapter as I finished it. Doing that helped me stay engaged with the book. I've heard that's a good approach to tackling any challenging novel. I might try that when I make another attempt at Ulysses.

TV Tropes summaries Melville's work this way:

"Described by many as the greatest American novel, Moby-Dick; or, The Whale, by Herman Melville, is either a story about the hunt of a wicked whale by a madman that shows Melville's work, or an encyclopedia on whaling and cetology with a Framing Device. You choose."

That's a valid observation. The seemingly endless chapters on whale biology are where I get bogged down in the book and not because I'm not interested in the topic. I'm fascinated by whales and actually took a class in marine biology in college.

It is also a strongly masculine book. There are no female characters of any consequence. That can sometimes make it a little difficult for me to get into a book.

Overall, though, I am pleased to have read it. The parts that focus on Ahab and his obsession and Melville's existential musings make it unforgettable.

This entry was originally posted at http://ladychapel.dreamwidth.org/26918.html. I have invite codes if you need one.



( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
Aug. 5th, 2011 04:58 pm (UTC)
To me it was totally the encyclopedia with story as framing device. To me, it's more a novelty than the "greatest American novel". I enjoyed the novelty, though.
Aug. 5th, 2011 06:02 pm (UTC)
It's a strange novel. It's like he wanted to write "Whales and Whaling for Dummies" at the same time that he had an idea for a great existential novel so he decided to combine them in one big doorstopper of a book. It's by turns extremely compelling or extremely boring with little middle ground. That was my experience with it anyway.

( 2 comments — Leave a comment )