Tuesday 27 October 2015

Moby Dick Readalong: Week Two

I meant to write this post on Monday but instead I wrote about Nonfiction November. I almost forgot to write it today because I got caught up in NaNoWriMo research, but finally here we are! I am intensely proud of myself for not having fallen behind with the reading yet. This week was tougher going than last week but it still wasn't anything like as awful as the experience of reading The Pickwick Papers last year *shudder*. 

Because Hanna is lovely and helpful she has provided us with questions which prevent me from having to formulate coherent paragraphs. Here they are!

1) We've met Captain Ahab now. What do you think of him? Did he meet your expectations? Who would you cast to play him in a movie?

Honestly, so far he's a lot less angry and a fair bit less mad than I was expecting. I know he paces a lot and is unnaturally fixated with a whale but he seems to know what he's doing, which is pretty much what you want from the captain of your ship I guess? I feel like he's only going to get madder as prospects of the white whale get closer though...

As for the movie, I'd have to agree with Hanna that Geoffrey Rush would be a good call (and yes I am just basing that on Captain Barbosa). Otherwise maybe someone like Ian McKellen? (Gandalf Ian McKellen, not Magneto) Or we could make it an entirely different interpretation of the text and go for Brian Blessed, the king of big - bearded madness...

2) Some chapters seem to focus on action and attempt to move the story along, whilst others seem to ponder the concept of a whaling and life. Do you find one type easier to follow than the other?

All of this week was kind of a trial for me if I'm honest. Not that I disliked it, I just kept finding that I'd read half a page without taking anything in or having any idea of what was going on. The chapter which defined all the different types of whales was my favourite (with heavy sarcasm) this week, although it was made better by the fact of reading it sitting on a bench staring at the sea with a large number of big fishing boats in it. Atmosphere can do a lot for a book. 

Also, what was up with some of the chapters being written as if they were plays? I kept having major flashbacks to secondary school Shakespeare classes...

3) Keeping in mind everything we've learned about whaling this week, has it changed your views on it at all?

I didn't really have any knowledge about whaling prior to reading this book beyond that it was bad and I loved the Free Willy films as a kid and did various campaigning to stop people treating whales badly in my younger years. From that perspective I'm actually finding it quite interesting to learn about the realities of whaling. I can't remember now where week 2 left off and week 3 began but there's been some pretty intense stuff happening in the last couple of chapters which has pulled me right back into the book. 

4) Why do you think Herman Melville suddenly branches off into lectures about how acceptable/difficult/clean whaling is? 

I feel like Melville had probably had people telling him their views on whaling a lot and this was him being like 'look, shut up, you don't know anything'. Because obviously Melville would say that. I kind of a get a bit of a 'stop saying what I do/am writing a book about is unacceptable/easy/dirty' feeling from it, which is more mature than what I would do in his shoes, which is pretty much to put my fingers in my ears and sing...

5) Do the scientific misconceptions bother you at all? i.e. that whales are fishes etc. 

Hanna, I love that you are clearly so upset by the whole 'whales are fish' thing that you wrote a question about it so we can all share our annoyance. Whales are mammals! I was also extremely proud of knowing this as a child and I feel like every time he talks about whales as fish he's trying to take that childhood pride away from me. Dammit, Melville, whales aren't fish

 Yeah so week two was a bit rubbish, but I'm already fairly far into week three's reading and it's muuuuuuch better. Queequeg is back, and so's the action! Yay! 


  1. 1) I can't really take seriously a man who has to stand in a special spot because it has a little leg-shaped hole for him! I wasn't sure about Geoffrey Rush because he may be a little old.... Oh god, Brian Blessed would be AMAZING. I'd watch that.

    2) Damn it, I meant to write a question about the play-style part, but I forgot. Well, that, and I couldn't formulate a question that wasn't '.... THE HELL IS THIS!?'

    5) YES. I knew that I wasn't the only crazy one! :D If 5 year old Hanna and Bex can know that whales aren't fish, SO CAN YOU, MELVILLE.

  2. Oh my gosh, now I can't stop thinking of Ahab as Brian Blessed. I would pay to see that, I really would :)