Thursday, April 26, 2012

Phooey on Moby Dick

Visualize this: a log chipper and my copy of Moby Dick. In she goes. Halleluiah, I've given it up. No more rereading paragraphs that put me to sleep. No more fretting over my lack of enthusiasm. I officially will not, ever, in my lifetime, or within the span of eternity, finish Moby Dick.

Right now, it's sitting at the bottom of a stack of much better books (including Julian Barnes' Pulse, a collection of stories). It languishes alongside several others that I've read or am excited to read. I even added to that stack several self-help titles (which I hardly ever read *yawn*), and they were more exciting than Moby Dick.

I wasn't expecting excitement. I wasn't expecting it to be a page-turner. Heck, I didn't know what to expect, but whatever it didn't deliver, it didn't deliver. I understand everyone has an opinion. Share it if you want. I may go to literary hell for publicly pronouncing my blase attitude about Melville's classic work. It just didn't speak to me. It was self-torture to continue. I give myself permission not to go forth. Ah, that feels better.


  1. I have a colleague, a friend who teaches English Literature at university, who says Moby Dick is her favourite book of all books. Better than any others. So I tried to read it; got about 50 pages in. I had the same response as you. This is rambling, not particularly well written, going nowhere slowly - so I gave up. I agree with you absolutely.

  2. I read it over Christmas break my Senior Year of college because my professor told us we'd need a head start before the semester started. (We were generally expected to read books in about a week for his class, and you can imagine how squeezing Moby Dick in with regular course work might have been an overload.) I'm pretty much sure I'm the only person who did the assignment either over break or during the class. Discussing it made it more interesting, but it basically served to help me survive the most miserable Christmas ever by making it feel even less like a holiday :) You're not missing much.

    1. I pity the college student who has to read it. But, I do have vivid memories or reading Hamlet in the library at the University of Arkansas. When I finished, I jumped for joy. Several people thought I was crazy. I was just relieved.

    2. This is unfortunate, but we don't all vibrate to the same spherical hum.

      Let me recommend the audio recording by Frank Muller. It is a revelation.

      Moby Dick confronts ALL issues of representation in language. It is a seminal work and at the very least, one would confront it as a great challenge.

      Let me recommend two posts. The first is a poem "out of" MD:

      The second is a list of chapters I find intensely interesting:

      Perhaps simply read one chapter multiple times to get the rhythm.

      But, I would agree that no one should waste time on a book. There are many out there after all.

    3. Did anyone take you up on your audio files of MB? That might be more stomachable. How's the blogging?

  3. No'm. But sadly, it is rare to have a "conversation" on the blog. I fear I wear out all the words.

    There actually is an ongoing project committed to various folks reading chapters here:

    Not the best and I'd still suggest you try the Muller--I'd bet your library has it.

    I've been blogging for Schools Matter also so there is a bit more "reach" but no one comments there either.

    I have two poems that came out of chapters of Moby Dick. Have you seen them at the blog?

  4. I have attempted a longer "answer" to your comment on "Clubbed Voices."


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