Monday, July 22, 2013
Starting Moby-Dick, #1
Does anyone these days read Moby-Dick outside the context of a college classroom? I don’t know. But if you’re thinking you might want to try, here’s the first of a series of notes that might help you get going – even if this first one does start as on a cautionary note.
Moby-Dick is a big book. Big books can scare us. Perhaps we're right to be a bit afraid of this one. Though this is only reading, you will be gone several months. Prepare to say goodbye to familiar landscapes, family, and friends – to all landmarks (there being none at sea).
You’ll sail from New England to the western Pacific. If you’re in a hurry, think patience – it will take 20 chapters before you even arrive at “Going Aboard.” If you don’t want the company of a troubled narrator, don’t start, for this one can’t speak until he invents that speaking voice. Likely he’s been silent about his story for a long time. After all, it’s not a story you’d want to negotiate in casual conversation: “Hello, I’m a lone survivor.” (In fact, he’s a narrator who we’d describe today as suffering from Post-Traumatic Shock Disorder.)
Will your reading be worth the trouble? Many have thought so. It’s your call. You can keep reading these entries awhile yet before you decide.