1) So, first impressions. What do we think of the novel?
Honestly I enjoyed it a lot more than I thought I would, this first section at least. Although not a huge amount happened quite a lot did at the same time, if that makes sense? There was a lot of atmospheric scene setting which at the same time felt far less long winded and dragging than the same amount of scene setting in a Dickens novel. I like Melville's style, I find him vaguely hilarious and I've giggled to myself on more than one occasion so far!
2) What about Ishamel's attitude to Queequeg? Is his tolerance ahead of its time or just a form of casual racism?
I don't think that I would call it racism as such although he definitely does have certain views about 'pagans' and 'cannibals' but I think that he's generally pretty accepting of Queequeg and tries to understand or at least leaves him to get on with his own religious devotions and such. Honestly I think that for the time he's pretty forward thinking and I feel like given the time the book is set in it would feel less realistic if he were to just not mention it at all. That said I did think that the way Queequeg speaks was pretty reductive and a little unnecessary. Really would he suddenly be able to understand things he previously hadn't understood just because you put 'e' on the end of every word? Stereotypes I think, more than racism.
3) Do you think Ishmael should have heeded Elijah's spooky warning?
Probably, but the story would have been waaaaaay shorter if he had and much less fun! Plus it's always great to have someone you can look back on and think 'ah, if only I'd listened to that guy'.
4) Captain Ahab! He's almost with us. What do you expect from him?
From the descriptions of other characters plus the general blurb of the book I'm expecting him to be pretty brooding, introverted, and more than a little bit scary. Also one legged, obviously, and slightly fixation on a certain whale. In general I just have a bit of a feeling of foreboding about him. Nothing good can come of his arrival!
I found it amusing that I also read The Storied Life of A.J Fikry this week, during which some characters have dinner at a restaurant named Pequod and there's a cocktail called a Queequeg which sounds absolutely disgusting, but it was fun to get the reference.
Join the Moby Dick fun here