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Author Topic: Moby Dick / Melville  (Read 3029 times)

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Offline Parturition Squeeze

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Moby Dick / Melville
« on: February 25, 2009, 01:56:20 PM »
How is it possible that one of the greatest writers in American History (The Confidence-Man, Bartleby the Scrivener) is world famous because of one of the worst books ever published?

Towel, please.


Offline Tripe

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Re: Moby Dick / Melville
« Reply #1 on: February 25, 2009, 01:58:16 PM »
This is true, Bartleby is excellent.

Could be worse, he could be remembered for Typee




Offline mrbasehart

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Re: Moby Dick / Melville
« Reply #2 on: February 25, 2009, 01:59:02 PM »
Oooh...controversy!

Meh, I thought the book was okay.  His digressions into talking about the whaling business bored me to tears though.


Offline Parturition Squeeze

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Re: Moby Dick / Melville
« Reply #3 on: February 25, 2009, 02:37:26 PM »
His digressions into talking about the whaling business bored me to tears though.

And he wouldn't stop doing it

If anyone hasn't read it and wants a sample of the "whaling details," scroll up chapter 14 (http://www.enotes.com/mobydick-text/chapter-14---nantucket), or, God help you, 42 (http://www.enotes.com/mobydick-text/chapter-42---whiteness-whale).

And yes, there are many, MANY similar chapters between, before, and after those.
Towel, please.


Offline mrbasehart

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Re: Moby Dick / Melville
« Reply #4 on: February 25, 2009, 02:41:52 PM »
Heh.  After the first one, I just skipped them.  I think one digression ran for about 20 pages.  It was a little similar in the Hunchback of Notre Dame, where Hugo is giving, IIRC, a history lesson on Paris.  Thanks Hugo, but I'll read a history book for that sort of thing -- next!  :)


Offline Tripe

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Re: Moby Dick / Melville
« Reply #5 on: February 25, 2009, 02:44:02 PM »
Tolstoy does the same thing in War and Peace.

Woody Allen is correct it's about Russia, oh there are characters and a storyline but mostly it's tedious belching about Russia.


Offline mrbasehart

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Re: Moby Dick / Melville
« Reply #6 on: February 25, 2009, 02:45:38 PM »
"Wheat! Fields of...wheat!"

 :D


Offline Jazzman99

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Re: Moby Dick / Melville
« Reply #7 on: February 25, 2009, 03:07:20 PM »
Tastes differ, I suppose.  When I finally got around to Moby Dick a few years ago I found it fascinating, and the same with War and Peace.  Both authors do more than present a straightforward plot; they create an entire world.  You can see that as digressions, or you can see it as adding richness and depth to the work.
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Re: Moby Dick / Melville
« Reply #8 on: February 27, 2009, 05:46:30 AM »
Yea, I LOVED Moby Dick


Offline SJP

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Re: Moby Dick / Melville
« Reply #9 on: February 27, 2009, 09:36:51 AM »
I liked Moby Dick, too...I think it was the only book I was ever pretty much forced to read in high school that I enjoyed, but it is not a quick read.  The funniest is that I mentioned in a later paper in college that it spent two chapters blathering about whales and the whaling industry, and I got a mark saying, "That's not true.  It's only one, right?"  I wasn't about to tell my English Lit professor that they obviously haven't read the damn thing.

The weirdest thing is, a lot of the longest-winded books are also the ones that eventually have the least to say.  I read a book in a college class called Desmond by Charlotte Smith.  It's an incredibly obscure book from the era of Romantic literature (the era that led to in Jane Austen and Mary Shelley), and it is around 430 pages.  Like Poul Anderson's ]Operation Luna, it has 400 pages of pointless diary entries, basically talking about "Oh, I love this guy, but how will the French Revolution (#1, that is) affect us?"  In the last 30 pages, the two main characters suddenly get caught up in something resembling a plot, and she is rescued and they live happily ever after.

On the other hand, in the same class, I also read two books by William Godwin, Mary Shelley's father, which are also long-winded, but are actually sort of cool.  They are from the early 1800s, though, so you have to ready for passages similar to the following:

"I remember that evening, when we all met in the garden, that the world seemed unusually dark for this time of year, a time which, had I not been mistaken, was the end of winter and the beginning of spring, which surely the general, whom had been invited to our get together, would have remarked was similar to the time he had spent in the trenches of the Crimean, when the shells of enemy mortar fire drove him to remember his wife, a pale woman who constantly died of consumption, a disease which had been spreading..."

And so on and so on.
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Offline mrbasehart

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Re: Moby Dick / Melville
« Reply #10 on: February 27, 2009, 05:18:07 PM »
Doesn't like full stops then? :)


Offline SJP

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Re: Moby Dick / Melville
« Reply #11 on: February 27, 2009, 07:52:51 PM »
Honest to God, I know there's a page in one of those books where most of that page is one paragraph...and that paragraph is one sentence.  Don't know why, but people didn't believe in ending sentences in the 1800s.

The book in question, though, is The Adventures of Caleb Williams.  It's been awhile since I read it, but the plot is the Caleb Williams of the title is blamed for a crime he didn't commit, and the guy who actually did it goes on to be very successful.  He escapes from prison, roams the countryside, and eventually confronts the guy in an admittedly silly ending.  Most copies have the original ending as an addendum, though, which is much less optimistic.
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Offline Parturition Squeeze

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Re: Moby Dick / Melville
« Reply #12 on: March 02, 2009, 10:48:45 AM »
I mentioned in a paper in college that it spent two chapters blathering about whales and the whaling industry, and I got a mark saying, "That's not true.  It's only one, right?"  I wasn't about to tell my English Lit professor that they obviously haven't read the damn thing.

?

I didn't count, but I'd guess it spends more like fifty chapters doing... that
 
Towel, please.


Offline Kris

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Re: Moby Dick / Melville
« Reply #13 on: March 08, 2009, 07:18:31 AM »
Moby Dick is in fact my white whale. Every year I try again to read the monster, every year I fail. I was a lit major as an undergrad, and I gravitate toward the classics. Dense. complex, even impenetrable books make me happier than a pig in piles and piles of excrement. Ulysses? Brilliant. Faulkner? Beautiful. Wuthering Heights? Dazzlingly ahead of its time. Moby Dick? Tedious, draining, and thoroughly unpleasant. The only 'classic' I hate more is Kate Chopin's The Awakening.  (Does ANYONE enjoy The Awakening? Or are we all just being punished by its continual presence on high school and college reading lists?)
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Offline Plastic Self-Cleaning Duck

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Re: Moby Dick / Melville
« Reply #14 on: March 22, 2009, 11:53:54 AM »
Honest to God, I know there's a page in one of those books where most of that page is one paragraph...and that paragraph is one sentence.  Don't know why, but people didn't believe in ending sentences in the 1800s.

Like the first sentence of "The Picture of Dorian Gray".....and the description of Lestat's garden in "Interview With A Vampire".