Melville and Moby

I don't get Moby Dick. Why is this book considered a classic? Is it because it's the first time a novella was expanded into a novel by means of inserting a handbook on whaling into the text? Is it because some chapters read like 18th century encyclopedia entries, others read like plays (complete with stage directions), still others read like philosophical treatises, and a few (very few) tell an ocean-going adventure story? Or was this incoherent piece of trash selected in an essentially random process from the several hundred novel-length works published that year. OR is it that the emperor has no clothes, and only inertia and a ego have kept it in it's place? Whatever. It's trash.

OTOH, it _does_ have a few amusing lines in it. For instance:

"[The American whaling fleet] have provided a system which for terse comprehensiveness surpasses Justinian's Pandects and the By-laws of the Chinese Society for the Suppression of Meddling with other People's Business. "
or how about this:
"Oh, won't ye pull for your duff, my lads- such a sog! such a sogger! Don't ye love sperm?"

Ah, yes. The man is a total whack-job. Not only would this atrocity of a book not be published today, but Melville would likely be locked away in an insane asylum. On the plus side, I'm on disc 14 out of 20. The end of 24 solid hours of book on tape is in sight. "Dust jacket, Ho!"


BA said...

Sounds like a lot of time pissed away on a crappy book. Had you spent 1/10th that amount time drinking beer you would been better off. Mmmm...beer. Sunday is fast approaching. I hope you will be attending next year.

Mike said...

Don't worry, I'm not reading the book. I'm listening to it on CD while I drive to and from work. So, if I'd spent 1/10th of that time drinking beer, I'd probably be dead or in jail. And as far as beerfest: Yes, I certainly plan to attend next year. IT was just going to be too much of a pain to do it this year.