This time around, the idea that stood out most for me was how very different Ahab’s and Ishmael’s reactions to adversity were. Ahab lost his leg (and more) to Moby-Dick so he turns into a monomanical beast driven to try to destroy, only to lose not only his own life, but the lives of his entire crew. Ishmael’s ship and best friend and shipmates are all attacked by Moby-Dick, Ishmael watches all the terror, floats about the sharks for a day or so, surely knowing he would torn apart at any instant, but rather than be spiteful or hateful or even depressed, he takes it upon himself to write this fantastic book and learn all he can about whales, whaling and consider everything else the book unfolds for us. Lovely.
Greetings Moby readers–so, while I’ve meant to post again for months, I’m just now getting back to it. But I wonder how the reading went for you? Did you finish? What were your thoughts?
Also, if you have suggestions for how we might better conduct these book discussions online, I’m all ears. I tried not to pester people, but then it was easy to just lose track of it, and I wasn’t sure if anyone was still following it.
Do you think it’s better that the moderator go ahead and post, and let folks lurk, or do you think there would be other options to get more folks involved and posting?
Where are we all at on the voyage? Want to talk about the book as a whole? Various passages? Parts that are perplexing? Beautiful? Infuriating?
I have to recommend listening to Moby-Dick via audiobook. This is the first time I’ve done that, and while I’ve read the book many times, I never really experienced the characters–particularly the characters of Starbuck and Stubb so intensely.
Of all the characters in Moby-Dick, an argument can be made that Pip is one of the most important. Bright and goodnatured, Pip survives a most terrible event, and is obviously never the same after he is left behind to confront the infinite indifference of the ocean, and of the world.
“The sea had jeeringly kept his finite body up, but drowned the infinite of his soul. Not drowned entirely, though. Rather carried down alive to wondrous depths, where strange shapes of the unwarped primal world glided to and fro before his passive eyes; and the miser-merman, Wisdom, revealed his hoarded heaps; and among the joyous, heartless, ever-juvenile eternities, Pip saw the multitudinous, God-omnipresent, coral insects, that out of the firmament of waters heaved the colossal orbs. He saw God’s foot upon the treadle of the loom, and spoke it; and therefore his shipmates called him mad. So man’s insanity is heaven’s sense; and wandering from all mortal reason, man comes at last to that celestial thought, which, to reason, is absurd and frantic; and weal or woe, feels then uncompromised, indifferent as his God.”
What did you all think of what happened to Pip? And what, exactly do you think happened to him? Is it more than just losing one’s mind after being left for dead on the ocean? (As if that isn’t enough?)
Any comments on this chapter? Of all the chapters, this one is particularly wild and over-the-top. In amazing ways. Any thoughts?
Our rescheduled presentation on why Moby-Dick is still the great American novel by Dr. Elizabeth Schutlz will occur this Sunday, Jan. 24 at 2 p.m. at the Central Resource Library in Overland Park, KS. More information is below. I will be doing an audio recording of Dr. Schultz’s presentation, so that I can post it digitally to the Web for all to hear. For all of you in the Kansas City area, I hope to see you on Sunday!
Special Presentation: Why Moby-Dick is Still the Great American Novel
Presenter: Dr. Elizabeth Schultz
Date: Rescheduled for Sunday, Jan. 24, 2010
Time: 2 p.m.
Location: Central Resource Library
Renowned Melville expert Dr. Elizabeth Schultz discusses why Moby-Dick, published in 1851, remains the great American novel. This program will kick-off the Library’s all-online Moby-Dick book discussion and will be followed by a hands-on tutorial on how to easily join and participate in the online discussion occurring Jan. 3 through March 31, 2010.
Erica asks, “Why don’t more people revolt and throw Ahab overboard?” Hmmm, good question! I never thought of that regarding this book, though mutiny has always been a possibility for sailors. Perhaps people don’t revolt because of fear of the unknown? Perhaps they feel inaequate to lead themselves so even poor leadership is better than the unknown? I have posed this question to students when we’ve studied oppression of one race over another. Especially where there examples of a minority of oppressors and a large number of the oppressed group. The students usually came to this conclusion: fear.