I picked up a copy cause I heard it said that Moby Dick’s one of those books that everyone knows, but no one’s read. Those same folks say the book’s about Obsession, but– after having devoured most of the novel– I might take them to debate.
Melville’s masterwork is as much dry literary travelogue as it is tale of one Captain’s obsession with the Leviathan. The frothy white inner conflicts of the crew is pitched into a tempestuous squall of sentences, only to mix– disenchantingly I do say– with an oft laborious reporting of the workaday details of a whale ship (as interesting and exotic as the theme of those chapters can sometimes be).
Herman would have done well to have listened to his contemporaries who similarly criticized his bipolar inability to maintain the story’s narrative thread. Tatooed savage Queequeg, pipe happy Stubb, and of course, ol’ Ivory legged Ahab are all too often tossed overboard & forgotten in the face of Melville’s monomaniacal quest to immortalize every anecdote & observation that ever crossed the bow of his being.
The glorification of self thru ‘storytelling’, the memorialization
of the soul of one man’s life’s story in all it’s unneccesary detail, this is the gentle tugging undercurrent of Moby Dick. And it just so happens to be an obsession I understand.