Moby-Dick, or The Whale
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Bestselling and beloved classic now with apparatus including: images, chronology, filmography, and essays spanning the themes of whaling, sermons, and cannibalism in Melville's novel. "It is the horrible texture of a fabric that should be woven of ships' cables and hawsers. A polar wind blows through it, and birds of prey hover over it." So Melville wrote of his masterpiece, one of the greatest works of imagination in literature. In part, Moby-Dick is the story of an eerily compelling madman pursuing an unholy war against a creature as vast and dangerous and unknowable as the sea itself. But more than just a novel of adventure, more than an encyclopedia of whaling lore and legend, the book can be seen as part of its author's lifelong meditation on America. Written with wonderfully redemptive humor, Moby-Dick is also a profound inquiry into character, faith, and the nature of perception.
reserved for the scientific Frederick Cuvier, brother to the famous Baron. In 1836, he published a Natural History of Whales, in which he gives what he calls a picture of the Sperm Whale. Before showing that picture to any Nantucketer, you had best provide for your summary retreat from Nantucket. In a word, Frederick Cuvier’s Sperm Whale is not a Sperm Whale, but a squash. Of course, he never had the benefit of a whaling voyage (such men seldom have), but whence he derived that picture, who can
blubber-room, and have a long talk with its inmates. This place has previously been mentioned as the receptacle for the blanket-pieces, when stript and hoisted from the whale. When the proper time arrives for cutting up its contents, this apartment is a scene of terror to all tyros, especially by night. On one side, lit by a dull lantern, a space has been left clear for the workmen. They generally go in pairs,—a pike-and-gaff-man and a spade-man. The whaling-pike is similar to a frigate’s
the bow, and, without staving a hole in it, so suddenly canted the boat over, that had it not been for the elevated part of the gunwale to which he then clung, Ahab would once more have been tossed into the sea. As it was, three of the oarsmen—who foreknew not the precise instant of the dart, and were therefore unprepared for its effects—these were flung out; but so fell, that, in an instant two of them clutched the gunwale again, and rising to its level on a combing wave, hurled themselves
familiar with its inhabitants, having spent several years of his youth as a whaleman in the South Pacific. At the core of the dazzling rhetorical display of Moby-Dick’s Nantucket is an imperishable historical truth. What I didn’t realize then was how long it was going to take to discover just what that truth meant to me. I would write two books of Nantucket history before I turned my undivided attention to the story I had first heard as a child. By that point I’d begun to appreciate the
impatience at what seemed like mystery in him, so imperfectly as he was known to me then. However, my thoughts were at length carried in other directions, so that for the present dark Ahab slipped my mind. CHAPTER 17 The Ramadan As Queequeg’s Ramadan, or Fasting and Humiliation, was to continue all day, I did not choose to disturb him till towards night-fall; for I cherish the greatest respect towards everybody’s religious obligations, never mind how comical, and could not find it in