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A deep tale of the mighty deep.
on 6 June 2016
An extraordinary novel. I am sure I could not have read it through as a young man. This is a laborious read. There is a mixture of anatomy, physiology, poetry, philosophy and - of course - adventure. Melville even throws in comments on species preservation by discussing whether the whale will be hunted to near extinction as had happened with the American buffalo. Sometimes it is hard to realize that this book was written 150 years ago, but the style of writing is clearly from a bygone age. We are not familiar or comfortable with the rather turgid and over- detailed prose. References to ancient Roman and Greek literature and multiple references to the Christian bible are hard to relate to in the middle of the 21st century. Against this rather dense backdrop, the book does contrive to tell a nautical tale of drama, terror and ultimate disaster. The final three days of the hunt for Moby Dick make for compelling reading, but these are the pages I will remember while much of the earlier complexity will be forgotten. It is rather odd that the first mate should have the name of Starbuck , a name with which the whole world is now familiar while Captain Ahab is remembered by relatively few. The bloody encounter between man and whale is vividly depicted and in the present era of conservation and preservation, makes for rather gruesome reading.
I was left not knowing whether to admire the whalers or despise them.