50 Books- Moby Dick

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Moby Dick By Herman Melville

Where did I get the book and how many pages?

I bought the book from Amazon for this challenge, and it clocks in at 589 pages.

Have I read this book before?

No.  This is one of those books I have kept in the back of my mind to read eventually. but had not gotten around to it.  It isn’t exactly a short book, so I have put it off until now.

What do I already know?

Moby Dick is the name of a great white whale, who is being chased down by a very obsessive Captain Ahab.  The opening line is one of the most iconic, in spite of it’s simplicity.  It does not have a happy ending, unless you are viewing it from the perspective of the whale.  Additionally, this book is considered to be filled with homosexual metaphors and symbology and is part of the evidence presented to indicate that Melville was bisexual.

What do I think now?

This book has some amazing writing.  The homosexual undertones are generally subtle in my opinion; I didn’t see the instant penis metaphor in the great white whale.  Maybe there is still some innocence left in me after all.

The biggest thing that struck me was the difference in publishing from when Moby Dick came out to now.  While the writing was good throughout, and there are interesting and compelling characters, if this book was published now, much of it would be cut.  There was no technical need for the book to have many chapters on the anatomy of a whale, or the random tangents that are not really related to the action of the story.  Realistically, I would imagine at least two hundred pages of this would have been cut before it would be published now.  Wouldn’t that have been a shame to lose?

The industry has changed and there is little that highlights that so much as reading books that were published a long time ago.

Should you read this book before you die?

I didn’t think I would care too much for a book about whaling.  I’m not much for fishing, or boats.  I was slightly afraid that even reading the book would make me seasick.  However, I fell in love with this book at the end of Chapter 13 when Queequeg, the lovable cannibal, says, “We cannibals must help these Christians.”  It was a sign that this book was much more than a simple book about a whale.  There would be greater stories, and symbolism involved.  Events would have greater meaning than the simple words and the stories.  Homosexual symbolism and penis metaphors or not, it would be something better than expected.  If that wasn’t clear, I would answer, yes read this book before you die.

Moving on to the next book, I will be reading The Color Purple by Alice Walker followed by The Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens.

Happy Reading!

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