Moby Dick support thread

(24 Posts)

Just got Moby Dick out of the library to try AGAIN to read the damn thing. I love books about ships and whaling and sea captains etc, so it should be perfect for me but on previous attempts have always given up in disgust.

Hopefully some of you can encourage me to persevere?

No spoilers please, other than the 'There is a whale and it's bloody big' sort.

LongWayRound Tue 02-Apr-13 21:02:00

I got about 1/3 of the way through Moby Dick last year. Read a bit every night, and then in November I put it aside to read something else, and haven't looked at it since. I'm scared I'll have forgotten everything and will have to start again at the beginning.

I will now try to get back to it. (At least as soon as I finish reading Berlin at War)

Curious to know what other books about ships, whaling and sea captains you love? I started reading Moby Dick after getting interested in whaling via Sylvia's Lovers, which may be an unusual path...

vertex Tue 02-Apr-13 21:09:20

trying reading in the Heart of the Sea by Nathaniel Philbrick which is the true account of what happened to the crew after the boat was struck by the whale that Melville based Moby Dick on

Read and loved, 'In The Heart Of The Sea.' Also loved, 'The Sinking Of The Whaleship Essex' which is the log of one of the sailors who met the 'real' Moby Dick which inspired Melville. Also Tim Severin's 'In Search Of Moby Dick' in which he travels around remote fishing communities asking about white whales.

LongWayRound Wed 03-Apr-13 10:36:41

Thanks for the recommendations. I restarted Moby Dick last night, picking up at the chapters where he describes the three mates and then the different types of whales - which I'd already read before giving up last time. I think it was the digressions and longwinded moral reflections which slowed down the story that discouraged me from going on in the past.

Many years ago I first heard traditional whaling songs on A. L. Lloyds "Leviathan" (LP now reissued as CD). If you don't know them already, you might be interested in listening to some of them...

Thanks, Long. Well, I'm about 200 pages in now. Loved the chapter about different kinds of whales and a few bits have really made me laugh but he doesn't half go on a lot overall.

KatyTheCleaningLady Thu 04-Apr-13 20:39:50

Give yourself permission to skim the blubbery bits. You know: the stuff where he describes in detail exactly how they would process the whales after killing them.

This will speed things up significantly.

I read it for a book club about 18 months ago. I'm glad I read it but I didn't enjoy it.

smile I suspect I'd like the blubbery bits more than the exultation (complete with many !!!!!!!) about Captain Ahab. I did skip the bit written out as a play where all the soldiers talk about Ahab's leg etc.

CaptainNancy Thu 04-Apr-13 21:22:57

I've read it, and I'd have thought if anyone could, it would be you!

I learnt a lot about whales, but I wouldn't read it again (useful though, have answered many quiz questions from the knowledge held within). I didn't really enjoy it, but felt I should finish it IYSWIM, as he'd clearly done so much research, and put so much into it.

No spoilers from me... don't think I can remember the end tbh, though I seem to remember that the end wasn't really the point of the book.

Oh gosh - now you've shown such faith in me, I'll HAVE to finish the damn thing! His 'research' was apparently lifted almost verbatim from the works of others, and his claims to have travelled extensively with whalers was apparently somewhat of an exaggeration!

CaptainNancy Thu 04-Apr-13 21:52:02

grin Ha! I love a good charlatan. If you're going to lie, make it a whopper.

milkwasabadchoice Thu 04-Apr-13 21:57:11

I've read Moby Dick! I couldn't believe that I actually got through it, but I did skip some bits and decided not to feel guilty about doing so.

I think I just got into it somehow - I got sucked in, and loved it. It's definitely one of those books where the end is not the point - it's the journey not the destination! Keep going, Remus.

A Great White Lie maybe, Nancy? smile

Thanks, Milk. I will!

Just noticed my appalling grammar - His CLAIM was / His claims WERE

Okay - am about 250 pages in now. They have just killed a whale. I liked the chapter about the different kinds of whales and loved the chapter about different artistic representations of whales, but there isn't half a load of crap in it too (the section where the old cook is made to preach to the sharks, being a prime example). I need some more encouragement please!

Finished it last night.

Am pretty underwhelmed but I liked the 'fishy facts' bits and the 'blubber stuff' bits. As a story, it was a waste of time though.

CoteDAzur Mon 08-Apr-13 20:01:09

Jeez Remus, you make me want to drop everything and start reading it now grin

LongWayRound Tue 09-Apr-13 09:43:33

I too finished it last night. I feel impressed by the author's achievement in managing to write so much about whales, I learnt a lot, and I liked the descriptions of the ocean, but less impressed by the story itself. After all the build-up to the big confrontation, it was actually over very quickly: and we never got an explanation of the link between Ahab and Fedallah, unless I missed something. (Off-topic, I was distracted by wondering whether Fedallah is a Parsee name at all? It sounds Arabic/Muslim.) But I'm glad I read it.
Sad to find that "In the heart of the sea" is not available on Project Gutenberg, which is where I am currently getting my reading matter... being nowhere near an English library/bookshop.

KatyTheCleaningLady Tue 09-Apr-13 11:15:51

I describe the book as "600 pages of blubber ending in a whirlpool of violence."

HobKnob Tue 09-Apr-13 11:19:09

You're a better woman than I am, That is the only book I've been unable to finish.

MooncupGoddess Tue 09-Apr-13 11:22:00

I read Moby Dick over Christmas. The beginning is great, the end is thrilling and there are some brilliant set pieces like the whale killing. But Lord... what a lot of blubber to slog through.

smile I wasn't thrilled by the end at all tbh. I thought it was a total anti-climax. I did like the bit with the Captain of The Rachel though. Agree that I expected to find out where Fedellah and his crew had come from. I liked the way his predictions unfolded. Overall though, I feel v let down. sad

Cote - don't bother!

KatyTheCleaningLady Tue 09-Apr-13 18:45:20

I have never been able to finish anything by Dostoyevski, and most people I know think he's awesome. But, I think I only finished Moby Dick because it was for a book club.

TeddyMercury Sat 20-Apr-13 22:13:15

Have you read The Voyage of the Narwhal? It might be your sort of thing.

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