Since 1997, you’ve been coming to BarnesandNoble.com to discuss everything from Stephen King to writing to Harry Potter. You’ve made our site more than a place to discover your next book: you’ve made it a community. But like all things internet, BN.com is growing and changing. We've said goodbye to our community message boards—but that doesn’t mean we won’t still be a place for adventurous readers to connect and discover.

Now, you can explore the most exciting new titles (and remember the classics) at the Barnes & Noble Book Blog. Check out conversations with authors like Jeff VanderMeer and Gary Shteyngart at the B&N Review, and browse write-ups of the best in literary fiction. Come to our Facebook page to weigh in on what it means to be a book nerd. Browse digital deals on the NOOK blog, tweet about books with us,or self-publish your latest novella with NOOK Press. And for those of you looking for support for your NOOK, the NOOK Support Forums will still be here.

We will continue to provide you with books that make you turn pages well past midnight, discover new worlds, and reunite with old friends. And we hope that you’ll continue to tell us how you’re doing, what you’re reading, and what books mean to you.

Reply
Frequent Contributor
Posts: 3,107
Registered: ‎10-27-2006
0 Kudos

message in a bottle



fanuzzir wrote:Your idea is even more poignant given the message in a bottle nature to this novel.




Hmmmm.... it would take a demijohn.

ziki
Inspired Contributor
Choisya
Posts: 10,782
Registered: ‎10-26-2006
0 Kudos

Re: Moby Dick: Dramatic Personae, Flask

Thanks Fanuzzir - I will read that story from the link of works that Ziki gave us.




fanuzzir wrote:
But ere stepping into the cabin doorway below, he pauses, ships a new face altogether, and, then, independent, hilarious little Flask enters King Ahab's presence, in the character of Abjectus, or the Slave.' (Chapter 34 The Cabin Table.)

I love Flask too, as it reminds me of Babo, the famous slave in Melville's celebrated short story, "Benito Cereno." You will not find a more twisted masquerade of authority.


Inspired Contributor
Choisya
Posts: 10,782
Registered: ‎10-26-2006
0 Kudos

Re: Moby Dick: "Call me Ishmael"

[ Edited ]
Super story Laurel. It is amazing how educated some of our old people are considering that they did not have the advantages (?) of modern education. Are there libraries on board ships Laurel? I ask because I guess that sailors must have a weight limit when they go on board and when they go to foreign ports they would probaby not be able to get English translations of books.




Laurel wrote:
Ishmael reminds me of my father, who turned 90 in July. He graduated from high school at 14 and was not able to go to college, because he had to help support his younger sisters. As soon as he was old enough, he joined the Merchant Marines (his eyes were too bad for the Navy) and set off for several years in the Pacific, which turned out to be war years. Anyway, there's a lot of down time at sea, and he spent his down time reading. He didn't have quite the variety of reading as Ishmael, but he certainly became a self-educated man. His little sisters ("the kids") told me recently that whenever he came home he would try to teach them all he had learned. Ishmael possibly had a year or two at Normal School to become a teacher, though not necessarily; most of what he knew came from voracious reading and traveling the watery part of the world.



fanuzzir wrote:


Choisya wrote:
Melville himself went to sea when he was 20 and came back four years later. He started to write MD when he was 31. Perhaps Ishmael is written from the point of view of his young life when at sea? I find Ishmael to be older, however, because he knows so much and is quite wise. Could a young man be so erudite?



friery wrote:




And our Ishmael is certainly a chatty young man.




And that leads to the next question: is "Ishmael" young or not? One commentator I read on the web argued that he was obviously middle-aged.

Melville, in the second sentence of the book, states, "Some years ago - never mind how long precisely - having little or no money in my purse, and nothing particular to interest me on shore, I thought I would sail about a little and see the watery part of the world...."

This is deliberately obscure. But my overall impression after reading the book is that Ishmael is younger, rather that older. Maybe it's because I perceive him as being an innocent.







There is a type of young man of philosophical temper who is old before his time. So I think his age is deliberately kept vague--he cannot be a grizzled lifer on board boats, and he has to be old enough to have lived through some disappointment. I would say an idealistic and weathered 25. That's a hump to get over, if I remember correctly: that life was not going to be like you thought it was.




Message Edited by Choisya on 01-03-200704:10 AM

Scribe
Laurel
Posts: 5,747
Registered: ‎10-29-2006
0 Kudos

Re: Moby Dick: "Call me Ishmael"

[ Edited ]

Choisya wrote:
Super story Laurel. It is amazing how educated some of our old people are considering that they did not have the advantages (?) of modern education. Are there libraries on board ships Laurel? I ask because I guess that sailors must have a weight limit when they go on board and when they go to foreign ports they would probaby not be able to get English translations of books.






I was wondering about libraries, too. I know the captains in the old stories always had a lot of books aboard. Perhaps they lent them out. I've started collecting Anthony Trollope's novels in the old Oxford Press "The World's Classics" series (the ones in the dark blue cover. They're just 4 inches by 6 inches and very light. There's a list of the Oxford series in the back of my 1939 edition of "Framley Parsonage" that includes anthologies, biographies, Greek and Roman classics, drama, essays, novels, history, letters, literary criticism, philosophy, poetry, political theory, religion, short stories, and travel, with quite a few books in each category. I guess a sailor could take 50 or 100 of these books at a time and get a better education than what is available in most universities. As Ishmael says, "a whale-ship was my Yale College and my Harvard." (ch. 24)


Here's a man I found in one of ziki's links:

"Curiously, he found a number of crewmates with literary interests. The most notable was Jack Chase, captain of the maintop: " . . . Jack Chase was a finer gentleman and better scholar than anyone [Melville] had actually known to claim these titles. He had a kinder heart than usually went with the soft palms of a conventional gentleman; and he was a master of languages who could recite long passages from Camoens' sailors' epic, The Lusiad, in the original Portuguese, and talk in English of Rob Roy and Don Juan, Macbeth and Ulysses, and Bulwer's Pelham." [Howard, p. 74] Such a companion no doubt reinforced the burgeoning interest in literature which Melville soon exhibited. And, as we shall see, Jack Chase would remain in the author's memory for a very long time."

http://www.serve.com/Lucius/Melville.index.html

Message Edited by Laurel on 01-03-200710:09 AM

"Truth must of necessity be stranger than fiction, for fiction is the creation of the human mind, and therefore is congenial to it." ~~G.K. Chesterton
Inspired Contributor
Choisya
Posts: 10,782
Registered: ‎10-26-2006
0 Kudos

Re: Moby Dick: "Call me Ishmael" : Worker's education

Yes, many of the old books carried lists like that - the Everyman editions do I think. In the UK the Trade Unions and the early Labour Party did a lot to promote reading and education and many branches had little lending libraries. There were also a lot of educational pamphlets produced on politics and economics and these were cheap enough for quite poor people to buy. They established a Correspondence College where working men could take courses in all kinds of subjects. The history of this college is very moving because there are letters in the archives from hard working, sometimes sick men, struggling to bring up their families yet still trying very hard to keep up with their course work. The college also had summer schools and many famous people attended to give lectures - H G Wells, G B Shaw, John Ruskin, Bertrand Russell, Beatrice Webb, V Woolf etc etc. The Worker's Education Assocation was also established, and still exists. Lectures are given in the evenings on a very wide range of subjects by university lecturers who only receive their travelling expenses. I still attend these myself, especially the ones on art and music. My father used to lecture for the WEA on economics and I have lectured for them on the history of gardening. Education was more prized then than now I think and it was against this background that Moby Dick was read more in the UK than in the US.



Laurel wrote:

Choisya wrote:
Super story Laurel. It is amazing how educated some of our old people are considering that they did not have the advantages (?) of modern education. Are there libraries on board ships Laurel? I ask because I guess that sailors must have a weight limit when they go on board and when they go to foreign ports they would probaby not be able to get English translations of books.






I was wondering about libraries, too. I know the captains in the old stories always had a lot of books aboard. Perhaps they lent them out. I've started collecting Anthony Trollope's novels in the old Oxford Press "The World's Classics" series (the ones in the dark blue cover. They're just 4 inches by 6 inches and very light. There's a list of the Oxford series in the back of my 1939 edition of "Framley Parsonage" that includes anthologies, biographies, Greek and Roman classics, drama, essays, novels, history, letters, literary criticism, philosophy, poetry, political theory, religion, short stories, and travel, with quite a few books in each category. I guess a sailor could take 50 or 100 of these books at a time and get a better education than what is available in most universities. As Ishmael says, "a whale-ship was my Yale College and my Harvard." (ch. 24)


Here's a man I found in one of ziki's links:

"Curiously, he found a number of crewmates with literary interests. The most notable was Jack Chase, captain of the maintop: " . . . Jack Chase was a finer gentleman and better scholar than anyone [Melville] had actually known to claim these titles. He had a kinder heart than usually went with the soft palms of a conventional gentleman; and he was a master of languages who could recite long passages from Camoens' sailors' epic, The Lusiad, in the original Portuguese, and talk in English of Rob Roy and Don Juan, Macbeth and Ulysses, and Bulwer's Pelham." [Howard, p. 74] Such a companion no doubt reinforced the burgeoning interest in literature which Melville soon exhibited. And, as we shall see, Jack Chase would remain in the author's memory for a very long time."

http://www.serve.com/Lucius/Melville.index.html

Message Edited by Laurel on 01-03-200710:09 AM




Frequent Contributor
fanuzzir
Posts: 1,014
Registered: ‎10-22-2006
0 Kudos

Re: Moby Dick: "Call me Ishmael" : Worker's education

Yes, many of the old books carried lists like that - the Everyman editions do I think. In the UK the Trade Unions and the early Labour Party did a lot to promote reading and education and many branches had little lending libraries. There were also a lot of educational pamphlets produced on politics and economics and these were cheap enough for quite poor people to buy. They established a Correspondence College where working men could take courses in all kinds of subjects. The history of this college is very moving because there are letters in the archives from hard working, sometimes sick men, struggling to bring up their families yet still trying very hard to keep up with their course work. The college also had summer schools and many famous people attended to give lectures - H G Wells, G B Shaw, John Ruskin, Bertrand Russell, Beatrice Webb, V Woolf etc etc. The Worker's Education Assocation was also established, and still exists. Lectures are given in the evenings on a very wide range of subjects by university lecturers who only receive their travelling expenses. I still attend these myself, especially the ones on art and music. My father used to lecture for the WEA on economics and I have lectured for them on the history of gardening. Education was more prized then than now I think and it was against this background that Moby Dick was read more in the UK than in the US.

Choisya, this is a beatiful testimony to an artisan/intellectual ideal that flourished throughout 19th century Britain (Chartists to William Morris) and obviously into your own experience in the 20th and 21st. It is important for all of us Americans to know the alternatives to labor patterns and to politics in the US--for instance, in the US, there was no corresponding alliance between intellectual life and labor--such labor leaders as Gompers always made sure that the labor movement in the US was going to get its piece of the pie, nothing more and nothing less. And from the American 19th century, reformers and intellectuals had a compassionate attitude at best toward (immigrant) labor and a patronizing attitude at worst. For instance, in the late 19th century, so called Progressives sought to reform working people's lives as a matter of social hygiene, as it was called. Leftism and socialism, meanwhile, thrived in the universities and particularly in Harvard's American Civilization program of the 1930s, where Moby Dick's greatness was birthed in this country.
Bob
Inspired Contributor
Choisya
Posts: 10,782
Registered: ‎10-26-2006
0 Kudos

Re: Moby Dick: "Call me Ishmael" : Worker's education (Off topic)

[ Edited ]
Fanuzzir wrote:
'...in the US, there was no corresponding alliance between intellectual life and labor--such labor leaders as Gompers always made sure that the labor movement in the US was going to get its piece of the pie, nothing more and nothing less.'


This attitude and the right wing prejudices of Margaret Thatcher were what brought the Trade Union Movement down here in the 1970s IMO. Instead of continuing to press for more social reforms in the way that my father and his comrades had done (my father was a Trade Union leader) the newer TU leaders only pressed for wage rises, against a background of the oil crisis and rising inflation. This enabled Thatcher to denigrate their work and to bring in legislation weakening their power. In Scandinavia TU leaders and successive Labour Governments continued with the social reforms which brought in better working conditions, maternity leave, paternity leave etc., which we subsequently followed but to our shame did not lead. The result has been to 'throw the baby out with the bathwater' and the Trade Union Movement which led the world, and which Marx said was the reason why the UK would never have a revolution, is down on its knees, letting capitalism run riot here as it has done in the US. We are fast turning into The Jungle too:smileysad: Our only saving grace is that Unionism is still strong in mainland Europe, especially in France and Germany, and EEC legislation has continued with quite a few social and environmental reforms. (If you can get hold of it Fanuzzir, for it is out of print, please try to obtain 'The History of the T.U.C. 1868-1968 - A Pictorial Survey of Social Revolution. Illustrated with Contemporary prints and documents and photographs. Published by the TUC (Trade Union Congress) in 1968 and distributed by Hamlyn.'. It is a moving testament to the achievements of the ordinary men and women who worked in the Union movement. I have, from time to time, uploaded photographs and sketches from this book onto the old BNU website, to illustrate our discussions on British history.)

Another important educational achievement by Labour, and again one in which my family have been (and are) active in, was the establishment by the Cooperative Party of The Woodcraft Folk in the 1920s. A breakaway movement from the (then) more militaristic Scouts & Guides, the Woodcraft Folk is a coeducational, pacifist youth organisation which teaches children responsible citizenship, and the value of cooperation throughout the world. Here for instance is a report of the 2006 International camp, which my children and grandchildren attended and a bit about the Folk's history:-

http://sustnable.woodcraft.org.uk/index2.htm

http://www.woodcraftheritage.org.uk/


Fanuzzir wrote:
Choisya, this is a beatiful testimony to an artisan/intellectual ideal that flourished throughout 19th century Britain (Chartists to William Morris) and obviously into your own experience in the 20th and 21st. It is important for all of us Americans to know the alternatives to labor patterns and to politics in the US--for instance, in the US, there was no corresponding alliance between intellectual life and labor--such labor leaders as Gompers always made sure that the labor movement in the US was going to get its piece of the pie, nothing more and nothing less. And from the American 19th century, reformers and intellectuals had a compassionate attitude at best toward (immigrant) labor and a patronizing attitude at worst. For instance, in the late 19th century, so called Progressives sought to reform working people's lives as a matter of social hygiene, as it was called. Leftism and socialism, meanwhile, thrived in the universities and particularly in Harvard's American Civilization program of the 1930s, where Moby Dick's greatness was birthed in this country.
Bob





Choisya wrote:
Yes, many of the old books carried lists like that - the Everyman editions do I think. In the UK the Trade Unions and the early Labour Party did a lot to promote reading and education and many branches had little lending libraries. There were also a lot of educational pamphlets produced on politics and economics and these were cheap enough for quite poor people to buy. They established a Correspondence College where working men could take courses in all kinds of subjects. The history of this college is very moving because there are letters in the archives from hard working, sometimes sick men, struggling to bring up their families yet still trying very hard to keep up with their course work. The college also had summer schools and many famous people attended to give lectures - H G Wells, G B Shaw, John Ruskin, Bertrand Russell, Beatrice Webb, V Woolf etc etc. The Worker's Education Assocation was also established, and still exists. Lectures are given in the evenings on a very wide range of subjects by university lecturers who only receive their travelling expenses. I still attend these myself, especially the ones on art and music. My father used to lecture for the WEA on economics and I have lectured for them on the history of gardening. Education was more prized then than now I think and it was against this background that Moby Dick was read more in the UK than in the US.

Message Edited by Choisya on 01-04-200702:26 AM

Inspired Contributor
Choisya
Posts: 10,782
Registered: ‎10-26-2006
0 Kudos

Re: Moby Dick: "Call me Ishmael" : Worker's education 2007 (Off topic)

[ Edited ]
Further to the posts on 'Worker's education' I would like to draw attention to an article in the Guardian today by our Chancellor of the Exchequer, who will possibly be our next Prime Minister, on the subject of education for the world's children. I think Melville would have approved of his sentiments. (Gordon Brown, incidentally, has his roots deep in the Labour Movement, unlike Tony Blair who is an arriviste. I find it amusing that he is now Chancellor of the Exchequer because my daughter taught him how to use a computer.:smileyhappy:) As Guardian links rarely work, I will copy and paste his article for your perusal and comment:-

'Our 2p pledge to all children
I want to mark the end of the slave trade in 1807 by tackling the modern slavery - ignorance

Gordon Brown
Thursday January 4, 2007
The Guardian

This year marks the 200th anniversary of Britain voting to end the slave trade. There could be no better commemoration than to abolish all child labour, and ensure that all young children go to school. I want every parent, student and school in Britain and the developed world to become campaigners, calling on every government to give every child access to schooling.

Today Hilary Benn and I are publishing a pamphlet telling teachers and pupils about our "Education for every child" initiative. Ten million children will benefit as, for the first time, we bring together all the support British schools need to build links with developing countries - including teacher exchanges. These networks will enable teachers and children to lead the fight in achieving education for all - a fight that draws its inspiration from links built across the generations. Truly a world classroom - in time backed by the world's biggest petition.

In 1807 men and women who had no vote - Liverpool dockers, Sheffield metal workers, Manchester textile workers, Hull seamen - petitioned the government for an end to slavery. In 2007 the Global Campaign for Education is asking schoolchildren to press those in power to ensure that all children in developing countries go to school.

A few months ago I went with the Comic Relief team to Mozambique to meet Nelson Mandela and launch this education initiative. With pupils Jenade and Lily, Hilary Benn and I visited a school outside Maputo. It had so many pupils - 4,000 - that it operated in four shifts, the last often sent home because there was no lighting. There were only a few dozen qualified teachers, no desks or chairs, and a leaking roof. Yet the teachers struggled on in this least prosperous of places, educating children who looked forward to school every day.

I visited Africa's largest slum - Kibera, near Nairobi. Primary education in Kenya is now free, and in the week it became free an astonishing one million children turned up to register. The ones I met were chanting the slogan that had changed their lives: "Free education". Free education has made a huge difference elsewhere, too. In Uganda and Tanzania pupil numbers grew by 2 million, and I know other countries could benefit. So Britain has pledged £8.5bn over 10 years, enough for 15m school places.

But we must do more. In the last few months, 22 African countries have committed to developing plans to ensure all their children have the facilities and teachers to complete primary education by 2015. The cost is not prohibitive - an extra $10bn a year by 2010 is probably the most cost-effective investment the world could make. This is only 2p a day for each person in the richest nations.

Education could be the greatest gift the richest nations make to the poorest. The alternative is what I saw outside Abuja, in Nigeria: madrassas created by religious extremists, offering free education but fundamentalist indoctrination, filling the void created by our failure to act. Today education for all makes not just moral and economic sense, but strategic sense too.

So the best way to commemorate the end of the slave trade in 1807 is to end the slavery of ignorance in 2007. Our goal is to ensure free education for every child, building the foundation of a truly free life for every adult, and we will commit to every child being at school, and achieve it within 10 years.

Let us heed the call of faith groups and NGOs committed to making "free education" not just a slogan in Kenya, but a global reality for every child.'

Message Edited by Choisya on 01-04-200705:12 AM

Frequent Contributor
fanuzzir
Posts: 1,014
Registered: ‎10-22-2006
0 Kudos

Re: Moby Dick: "Call me Ishmael" : Worker's education 2007 (Off topic)

This is a true evocation of the spirit of '07--1807, that is--when Britain abolished the Atlantic slave trade. As a scholar of the international antislavery movement, I find it very moving to find a political official invoke that milestone as the mandate for a new global initiative that promises to promote Britain's famed "humanitarian sensibility." Added to that is a democratic reform impulse that took flight with the labor movement of the 19th century that is still paying dividends in the UK. Unfortunately, America lost its democratic rhetoric of the labor movement with the defeat of Eugene Debs internally by Gompers and externally by the US government. Thank you for your invocations of this tradition.
Frequent Contributor
Posts: 3,107
Registered: ‎10-27-2006
0 Kudos

Re: Moby Dick: Dramatic Personae- one comment on Ahab

Oh yes, love is the way. (Yes) Love is the only absolute. More and more I see this. I’ve seen too much hate to want to hate myself; hate is too great a burden to bear. (You bet, Yes) I’ve seen it on the faces of too many sheriffs of the South—I’ve seen hate. In the faces and even the walk of too many Klansmen of the South, I’ve seen hate. Hate distorts the personality. Hate does something to the soul that causes one to lose his objectivity. The man who hates can’t think straight; (Amen) the man who hates can’t reason right; the man who hates can’t see right; the man who hates can’t walk right. (Yeah) And I know now that Jesus is right, (Yeah) that love is the way. And this is why John said, "God is love," (Yes, sir) so that he who hates does not know God, but he who loves (get in the door) at that moment has the key that opens the door (Yeah) to the meaning of ultimate reality. So this morning there is so much that we have to offer to the world. (Yes, sir)

reverend Martin Luther King Jr.
Inspired Contributor
Choisya
Posts: 10,782
Registered: ‎10-26-2006
0 Kudos

Re: Moby Dick: Dramatic Personae- one comment on Ahab

Thanks ziki - yes, a very apt comment on Ahab:smileysad:




ziki wrote:
Oh yes, love is the way. (Yes) Love is the only absolute. More and more I see this. I’ve seen too much hate to want to hate myself; hate is too great a burden to bear. (You bet, Yes) I’ve seen it on the faces of too many sheriffs of the South—I’ve seen hate. In the faces and even the walk of too many Klansmen of the South, I’ve seen hate. Hate distorts the personality. Hate does something to the soul that causes one to lose his objectivity. The man who hates can’t think straight; (Amen) the man who hates can’t reason right; the man who hates can’t see right; the man who hates can’t walk right. (Yeah) And I know now that Jesus is right, (Yeah) that love is the way. And this is why John said, "God is love," (Yes, sir) so that he who hates does not know God, but he who loves (get in the door) at that moment has the key that opens the door (Yeah) to the meaning of ultimate reality. So this morning there is so much that we have to offer to the world. (Yes, sir)

reverend Martin Luther King Jr.


Frequent Contributor
Posts: 3,107
Registered: ‎10-27-2006
0 Kudos

Dramatic Personae-Ahab

[ Edited ]
I hear a lot about captain Ahab ("outside" of the book that is) but nothing much happens with him during the first half of the story. He's presented as a bit obscure character, normal enough to have a wife and child, with whaling experience and ability to comand. Nothing much is actually said or done by him. Apart of igniting his seamen, engaging them in his private pursuit of Moby Dick he doesn't he give much away. He taps around with his whale leg, victim of his insomniac patches of time, studying maps carefully.

Nevertheless, unbeknown to me something is definitely brewing with him and I wonder what will happen and how we get to the climax. In that I am fortunate because there are still many non-fiction chapters left ahead, hidden like icebergs in tropical waters. Enjoy the cruise, don't crash.

The sudden apearance of the "turbaned Fedallah who remained the muffled mystery to the last" and Ahab's own crew of "subordinate phantoms" implies that he doesn't leave anything to a chance. Ahab's determined to seek vengeance as if that could grant him back his leg. He is an opportunist.

No spoilers help me to avoid a mention of the undertow catastrophy and I wonder how Ahab's character will develop during the second part of the book.

It is said that one most accessible level is just Ahab's character and story. So far he is presented as dark and clearly opposed to the whiteness of the whale. Conlict can't be more evident.

ziki

Message Edited by ziki on 01-07-200711:45 PM

Frequent Contributor
fanuzzir
Posts: 1,014
Registered: ‎10-22-2006
0 Kudos

Re: Dramatic Personae-Ahab

There's one chapter that seems devoted to Ahab lore, Surmises, chapter 46; it pulls alot together. Otherwise, Melville does seem to define his character by what he does to others, or what others do to him; he is more of a spoke of a wheel, or a catalyst, than an idol to gaze on. That's interesting all by itself; his power is not in his being, but in his relations with others (an example being with Starbuck).
Frequent Contributor
Posts: 3,107
Registered: ‎10-27-2006
0 Kudos

Re: Dramatic Personae-Ahab

Both 46 and 50: what I 'dislike'on my first reading is the 'taking about' Ahab. I am disinclined to listen to Melville on those occasions. At the same time it is natural with this distance; Ahab is not exactly the close pal like Queequeg. And this distance also empowers his character of course.There's something you can't reach in him and I think that is very typical for people who function like that, who are obsessed with something and not really in contact with other depth but the depth of their resentment.

If the whiteness of Moby Dick is moving in the depth of the ocean what does that symbolizes for Ahab? Does he perceive any danger from it? Reread the white chapter, heheh. Does he want to prove to himself his superiority? Sometimes the text leaves me only with questions and no answers. In which case I return just to reading the book not analyzing it so desperately.

But it is interesting what you said here. Although in interpretations the focus in on Ahab as a person, in the book itself he exists rather on the more subtle level of the relationship. Maybe that is why I perceive Ahab as somewhat vague so far, it more about his influence on others than effect of his personality. I'll switch focus.

ziki
Inspired Contributor
Choisya
Posts: 10,782
Registered: ‎10-26-2006
0 Kudos

Re: Dramatic Personae-Ahab

Great post ziki - thanks. The sudden appearance of Fedallah & Co was strange and although I can understand why they were smuggled aboard as extra hands, I am puzzled as to why they are Orientals and wonder what significance that has. Did Oriental people have special significance at this the time of writing? Any ideas?




ziki wrote:
I hear a lot about captain Ahab ("outside" of the book that is) but nothing much happens with him during the first half of the story. He's presented as a bit obscure character, normal enough to have a wife and child, with whaling experience and ability to comand. Nothing much is actually said or done by him. Apart of igniting his seamen, engaging them in his private pursuit of Moby Dick he doesn't he give much away. He taps around with his whale leg, victim of his insomniac patches of time, studying maps carefully.

Nevertheless, unbeknown to me something is definitely brewing with him and I wonder what will happen and how we get to the climax. In that I am fortunate because there are still many non-fiction chapters left ahead, hidden like icebergs in tropical waters. Enjoy the cruise, don't crash.

The sudden apearance of the "turbaned Fedallah who remained the muffled mystery to the last" and Ahab's own crew of "subordinate phantoms" implies that he doesn't leave anything to a chance. Ahab's determined to seek vengeance as if that could grant him back his leg. He is an opportunist.

No spoilers help me to avoid a mention of the undertow catastrophy and I wonder how Ahab's character will develop during the second part of the book.

It is said that one most accessible level is just Ahab's character and story. So far he is presented as dark and clearly opposed to the whiteness of the whale. Conlict can't be more evident.

ziki

Message Edited by ziki on 01-07-200711:45 PM




Inspired Contributor
Choisya
Posts: 10,782
Registered: ‎10-26-2006
0 Kudos

Re: Dramatic Personae-Ahab

'That's interesting all by itself; his power is not in his being, but in his relations with others' - like a god....




fanuzzir wrote:
There's one chapter that seems devoted to Ahab lore, Surmises, chapter 46; it pulls alot together. Otherwise, Melville does seem to define his character by what he does to others, or what others do to him; he is more of a spoke of a wheel, or a catalyst, than an idol to gaze on. That's interesting all by itself; his power is not in his being, but in his relations with others (an example being with Starbuck).


Inspired Contributor
Choisya
Posts: 10,782
Registered: ‎10-26-2006
0 Kudos

Re: Dramatic Personae-Ahab

Strange Ziki, I do not see Ahab as vague or missing from the narrative at all. I see him as a looming, perhaps supernatural presence everywhere. Ever since his pagan ritual of 'communion' wine drinking with the men and the crossed harpoons, I have felt a Satanic presence. I also hear the thud of his ivory leg everywhere on the ship. He does not sleep and the men hear that thud at all times of the day and night, like the heartbeat of Moby Dick...




ziki wrote:
Both 46 and 50: what I 'dislike'on my first reading is the 'taking about' Ahab. I am disinclined to listen to Melville on those occasions. At the same time it is natural with this distance; Ahab is not exactly the close pal like Queequeg. And this distance also empowers his character of course.There's something you can't reach in him and I think that is very typical for people who function like that, who are obsessed with something and not really in contact with other depth but the depth of their resentment.

If the whiteness of Moby Dick is moving in the depth of the ocean what does that symbolizes for Ahab? Does he perceive any danger from it? Reread the white chapter, heheh. Does he want to prove to himself his superiority? Sometimes the text leaves me only with questions and no answers. In which case I return just to reading the book not analyzing it so desperately.

But it is interesting what you said here. Although in interpretations the focus in on Ahab as a person, in the book itself he exists rather on the more subtle level of the relationship. Maybe that is why I perceive Ahab as somewhat vague so far, it more about his influence on others than effect of his personality. I'll switch focus.

ziki


Frequent Contributor
fanuzzir
Posts: 1,014
Registered: ‎10-22-2006
0 Kudos

Re: Dramatic Personae-Ahab

The sudden appearance of Fedallah & Co was strange and although I can understand why they were smuggled aboard as extra hands, I am puzzled as to why they are Orientals and wonder what significance that has. Did Oriental people have special significance at this the time of writing? Any ideas?

Can anyone help us with Choisya's excellent question? It would seem Ahab has a brought aboard a secret, personal crew of Asian whalehunters. It's an scenario full of symbolism, historical significance, and dramatic import.
Frequent Contributor
Posts: 3,107
Registered: ‎10-27-2006
0 Kudos

Ahab another way



Choisya wrote:
Strange Ziki, I do not see Ahab as vague or missing from the narrative at all. I see him as a looming, perhaps supernatural presence everywhere. Ever since his pagan ritual of 'communion' wine drinking with the men and the crossed harpoons, I have felt a Satanic presence. I also hear the thud of his ivory leg everywhere on the ship. He does not sleep and the men hear that thud at all times of the day and night, like the heartbeat of Moby Dick...



I think the problem is that I wish the book be certain way rather than reading what is there...I do read,mind you, but Melville drives me nuts at times...and then I slip into telling him what to do instead...LOL..that approach is bound to fail!

ziki
Frequent Contributor
Posts: 3,107
Registered: ‎10-27-2006
0 Kudos

Fedallah & Co



fanuzzir wrote:
The sudden appearance of Fedallah & Co was strange and although I can understand why they were smuggled aboard as extra hands, I am puzzled as to why they are Orientals and wonder what significance that has. Did Oriental people have special significance at this the time of writing? Any ideas?

Can anyone help us with Choisya's excellent question? It would seem Ahab has a brought aboard a secret, personal crew of Asian whalehunters. It's an scenario full of symbolism, historical significance, and dramatic import.




OK, I take a stab at it---I think if it was a Johnny Dope and Perry Scope from Philly it wouldn't have the same dramatic effect.These are yellow savages and one with turban that competes whith full moon! I definitely associate to pirates.Nobody in that crew invites others too close....even if they quickly melted into the crowd after the first chase.

Being visually different race from others they are more likely to be suspect and their characters will gel more easily with Ahab's. Not sure about the last part because the shipcrew as presented during the shakespearian nigth was pretty internationaland I am not sure the seamen were so small-minded.

ziki
Users Online
Currently online: 15 members 467 guests
Please welcome our newest community members: