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book-nut
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Re: What's the official start date?



matthieu_78741 wrote:
Several posts talk about books not having arrived yet, and the 26th being the start date. Discussions are obviously underway though. Are these eager group members, or is the 26th canceled? If the group started weeks ago, I don't want to join now. I just started reading Moby Dick yesterday. If it's still scheduled to start on the 26th, though, I'll come back and join then.




Hello,

From what I understand, we are officially starting on the 26th; however, some of us have started reading and discussion early. These threads will be ongoing, so you can read at your own pace.

Cheryl
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leakybucket
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Re: What's the official start date? - December 26

[ Edited ]
Matthieu, I am going to move this discussion to another thread so we can leave this thread free for book discussions.
-----------------------------

The start date by group agreement is December 26. That was the original date and then B&N opened the board early and moved it up. That left a lot of people scrambling and having to get the book. So we agreed to wait as a group. We had started soom discussion on the book but then we decided to wait. What we have been doing is introducing ourselves, chatting, and having preliminary discussions on subjects related to the book until December 26th.

Don't worry about being too far behind. I'm only up to page 60 myself and many others do not have the book yet. You might want to aim for the first 100-150 pages for the week after Christmas. Considering the volume of "pre-reading" discussions, I think we are going to have a lot to say on just the first 100 pages. We already had a lengthy discussion on the first sentence! I think it will even take us awhile to get beyond the first 12 chapters (through the sermon). I'm going to re-read those just before the book discussions open. So take your time. We are going to be here for awhile.

Good to have you with us Matthieu. Join in the the preliminary discussions and learn a lot about whales and get to meet the rest of the group.

Bucky




matthieu_78741 wrote:
Several posts talk about books not having arrived yet, and the 26th being the start date. Discussions are obviously underway though. Are these eager group members, or is the 26th canceled? If the group started weeks ago, I don't want to join now. I just started reading Moby Dick yesterday. If it's still scheduled to start on the 26th, though, I'll come back and join then.

Message Edited by leakybucket on 12-16-200612:09 PM

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mef6395
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Re: Moby Dick: Ishmael meets Queequeg

I laughed when I read, right at the beginning of Chapter 4: Upon waking next morning about daylight, I found Queequeg's arm thrown over me in the most loving and affectionate manner. Another favorite moment is when Ishmael watches to see where Queequeg kept his razor, when lo and behold, the latter takes the harpoon and starts shaving his cheeks with it!

fanuzzir wrote:
I hope I can enlist you all in an extended discussion of the most striking chapters of this first section, the comic encounter of Ishmael with his new roommate. It is funny, it is self-mocking, it is profoundly reflective on the white imagination, and it is not half as erotic as I thought it to be. The most delicate subjects and wrenching encounters are pulled off with such a jaunty tone. What are your favorite moments? I like Queequeg and his harpoon.


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Re: Moby Dick: On Dry Land

Considering Qeequeg was selling heads, and Ishmael had no understanding of Qeequeg's culture or background, isn't it naive of Ishmael to have befriended Qeequeg so quickly? Wouldn't he have had to abandon all instinct and judgement to be able to fall asleep? And why didn't he ever ask about the heads? Is the message here one of tolerance and understanding, even at the expense of reason and self preservation?
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fanuzzir
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Re: What's the official start date?

Please don't wait. Join right in; the BN people ushered this discussion before the official start date. Feel free to continue this discussion, though I will try to keep it centered on the early stages of the novel until the week of the 26th. Bob
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fanuzzir
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Re: Moby Dick: Ishmael meets Queequeg

I love that too. Melville clearly has a respect for a man who knows a good shave. He's so light on his feet here, so generous, so whimsical. It's hard to believe that readers think of him as ponderous. I really wish he had kept this social satire tone throughout--the joke is always on the befuddled New Englander. Glad you've joined us, by the way. Bob
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fanuzzir
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Re: Moby Dick: On Dry Land

Mathieu, I actually found Melville paying quite alot of attention to the male panic mode--the touching of the other man bit that skeeves quite alot of men not on the athletic field. And then there's the purple skin obsession. He really unloads on the landlord for putting him in that position too. I guess I find his "conversion" a little too easy. I don't know if people like Queequeg were ever given the hearty respect he is given here. Melville wants comedy and good humor here clearly, with the only loser being the bigot.
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Choisya
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Re: Moby Dick: On Dry Land

Different places, different times Matthieu! It isn't Ishmael by the way - it is the Narrator/Melville. He was in a seaman's town in a seaman's lodgings house/inn - where else would he go and how much better would other chaps be? The landlord knew Queegueg and would not have put a paying guest in with someone likely to do him harm. And yes I think is is a message of tolerance and understanding, which can also aid survival.




matthieu_78741 wrote:
Considering Qeequeg was selling heads, and Ishmael had no understanding of Qeequeg's culture or background, isn't it naive of Ishmael to have befriended Qeequeg so quickly? Wouldn't he have had to abandon all instinct and judgement to be able to fall asleep? And why didn't he ever ask about the heads? Is the message here one of tolerance and understanding, even at the expense of reason and self preservation?


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Re: Moby Dick: On Dry Land

Alternative scenario #1: The inn keeper and Qeequeg are partners. The heads are from past travelers that fell asleep. Alternative scenario #2: Qeequeg is good at lulling sailors and taking their heads at sea.

Suspending judgment or discernment of all cultural norms, decisions, or behaviors, having unbridled tolerance and understanding just for the sake of it, could lead to a degradation of society, slavery, or possibly death.

Of course I'm not condoning cruelty or disrespect here, which intolerance connotes. I'm simply saying one has to be able to discern between right and wrong, safe relationships and potentially dangerous ones, and take precautions to ensure life.

I don't think Melville expects us to believe head selling, doll worshiping, or cannibalism are acceptable behaviors. It seems more like he's created an exaggerated cultural barrier to force the reader to reconcile it with Qeequeg's loyalty and compassion. He's saying there is a good man, a loyal friend, beyond what his culture has taught him - right or wrong as it might be.
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Laurel
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Re: Moby Dick: On Dry Land

Matthieu wrote:
"He's saying there is a good man, a loyal friend, beyond what his culture has taught him - right or wrong as it might be."

Right you are, Matthieu!
"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
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Laurel
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Chapter 1: "Loomings"

Here is a good question on the title of chapter one:

3. Explore the multiple meanings of "Loomings," the title of the first chapter. In what ways does the first chapter introduce the reader to key motifs that will resonate throughout the rest of the work? Think about these concepts, many of which will turn up later on:

* The "loom," weaving, and making mats.
* Imagery of lines, interconnectedness, community, and danger
* Water meditations and man's attraction to water
* Ishmael's curiosity about and tolerance for human motivation
* Ishmael as an actor in a drama not of his choosing; the stage as metaphor
* The white whale and foreshadowings of his presence
* Community and isolation; the "Isolato"; solitude
* The quest
* Interpretation, translation, and "reading" correctly
* Madness and monomania
* The nature of God and man
* Finding and losing the self (Narcissus)
* Irony, irreverence, obedience
* Parallels between land and sea
* Mechanical power (Ahab) versus (or as representing) the power of the natural world
* Traditional image of ship as both a factory and a microcosm of society--a "ship of fools"
* Civilization and "savagery"; cannibalism
* Biblical echoes and references: Jonah, Job, Ahab, Elijah, Ishmael, etc.

question source: http://www.wsu.edu/%;7Ecampbelld/amlit/mddq.htm



fanuzzir wrote:
These chapters, 1-27, are some of the most comic and richly observed social tableaus in the entire novel. If he had just kept his novel to these opening scenes on land, he still would have had a masterpiece. The meeting with Queequeg, the minister's sermon, the introduction to the characters; all are priceless pieces of wry, satirical prose.

Message Edited by fanuzzir on 12-10-200610:55 PM



"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
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Re: Moby Dick: On Dry Land, Chapters 1-27



fanuzzir wrote:
These chapters, 1-27, are some of the most comic and richly observed social tableaus in the entire novel. If he had just kept his novel to these opening scenes on land, he still would have had a masterpiece. The meeting with Queequeg, the minister's sermon, the introduction to the characters; all are priceless pieces of wry, satirical prose.

Message Edited by fanuzzir on 12-10-200610:55 PM






Chapter 3 was quite a surprise for me. After reading the Etymology, Extracts, and first two chapters I thought this would be a very serious and dry book. It was a shock to meet Q and very funny. It reminded me of how both Dickens and Austen used very exaggerated and comic characters such as Mr. Collins and Mr. Macawber to make serious points as well as lightening up the story.
The funniest part for me was the final destination of the last embalmed head (ch. 13). I hope my head has a more dignified final resting place. Also Q's table manners left something to be desired. Using his harpoon to spear the meat was funny and reminded me of taking groups of boys to dinners. They could be as innovative in ways to serve themselves.
Frankly I did not know what to make of Father Marple's sermon.
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Chapter 1: "the universal thump"

This is one of my favorite passages:

What of it, if some old hunks of a sea-captain orders me to get a broom and sweep down the decks? What does that indignity amount to, weighed, I mean, in the scales of the New Testament? Do you think the archangel Gabriel thinks anything the less of me, because I promptly and respectfully obey that old hunks in that particular instance? Who ain't a slave? Tell me that. Well, then, however the old sea-captains may order me about--however they may thump and punch me about, I have the satisfaction of knowing that it is all right; that everybody else is one way or other served in much the same way--either in a physical or metaphysical point of view, that is; and so the universal thump is passed round, and all hands should rub each other's shoulder-blades, and be content.
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? bible background



pmath wrote:
This is one of my favorite passages:

What of it, if some old hunks of a sea-captain orders me to get a broom and sweep down the decks? What does that indignity amount to, weighed, I mean, in the scales of the New Testament? Do you think the archangel Gabriel thinks anything the less of me, because I promptly and respectfully obey that old hunks in that particular instance? Who ain't a slave? Tell me that. Well, then, however the old sea-captains may order me about--however they may thump and punch me about, I have the satisfaction of knowing that it is all right; that everybody else is one way or other served in much the same way--either in a physical or metaphysical point of view, that is; and so the universal thump is passed round, and all hands should rub each other's shoulder-blades, and be content.





A pre-reading question that might sound weird:

How much knowledge of the Bible do you need to have for reading this book? I am not especially familiar with 'the stories' of the Bible as it is right now.

ziki
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ELee
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Re: Moby Dick: On Dry Land

"It seems more like he's created an exaggerated cultural barrier to force the reader to reconcile it with Qeequeg's loyalty and compassion. He's saying there is a good man, a loyal friend, beyond what his culture has taught him - right or wrong as it might be."

I think Melville's point was twofold. He is basically indicating that you can't "judge a book by its cover" with regards to Queequeg's appearance vs what is considered acceptable for the time and place. Q's customs and general perception of the world as a "headhunter" were deliberately chosen by Melville to provide as "outlandish" and stark a contrast as possible to those accepted by the current society. I believe he is actually poking fun at the high-nosed society/culture that sees Queequeg as a heathen who is "in the wrong": that superior, all-knowing bent that some cultures have when they are belittling something/someone they don't understand and won't take the time to know.
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Re: ? bible background

[ Edited ]




A pre-reading question that might sound weird:

How much knowledge of the Bible do you need to have for reading this book? I am not especially familiar with 'the stories' of the Bible as it is right now.

ziki




I'm not either, Ziki, but I have found there is always someone in the group who can provide the necessary information and point you to the right passage if you want to read it yourself. There are plenty of online Bibles. Moby Dick also has lots of literature and geographical references that are not carried in my data bank.

I found this site that may help you while you read, especially if your Moby Dick edition doesn't have explanatory notes.

http://www.pthompson.addr.com/moby/allusion.htm

Bucky

Message Edited by leakybucket on 12-18-200608:20 PM

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Laurel
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Re: Moby Dick: On Dry Land

It's amazing the things one can learn from and come to appreciate about a person who seems at first and second glance to be radically different from onesself--or maybe not so amazing after all.



ELee wrote:
"It seems more like he's created an exaggerated cultural barrier to force the reader to reconcile it with Qeequeg's loyalty and compassion. He's saying there is a good man, a loyal friend, beyond what his culture has taught him - right or wrong as it might be."

I think Melville's point was twofold. He is basically indicating that you can't "judge a book by its cover" with regards to Queequeg's appearance vs what is considered acceptable for the time and place. Q's customs and general perception of the world as a "headhunter" were deliberately chosen by Melville to provide as "outlandish" and stark a contrast as possible to those accepted by the current society. I believe he is actually poking fun at the high-nosed society/culture that sees Queequeg as a heathen who is "in the wrong": that superior, all-knowing bent that some cultures have when they are belittling something/someone they don't understand and won't take the time to know.


"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
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fanuzzir
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Re: Moby Dick: On Dry Land

Of course I'm not condoning cruelty or disrespect here, which intolerance connotes. I'm simply saying one has to be able to discern between right and wrong, safe relationships and potentially dangerous ones, and take precautions to ensure life.

Mathieu's post everybody just about captures the comic willy-nilly of the first few chapters--we are with a character who invites dangerous relationships his way and throws his arm around the "savage" within the next day. I can't think of a better way to understand the whold drive of the novel: toward the suspension of self-preservation, either under the spell of male fellowship, or under the critical regard of one's own suspicions, and the "higher" impulse to suspend them lest we are not properly immersed in the spirit of the thing. You really captured something there in that bedroom that speaks to a misfired safety switch . . .
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fanuzzir
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Re: Chapter 1: "Loomings"

* The nature of God and man
* Finding and losing the self (Narcissus)

I'm quoting Laurel here to point out the heavy meaning of the first chapter, Loomings, watered down, so to speak, by this come with me, I'm a good companion tone of the narrator. I was surprised at how much Melville wanted to "sneak in" in the first chapter by the way of character confession. The most heavy philosophical themes of the novel are all there but he is trying to build a characterization, and then a plot, in which everyone's motives and views of ocean travel are different. For a narcisstic who thinks he sees his own reflection in the sea to the encounter with the truly other, Queeqeg--surely there is a point here.
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fanuzzir
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Re: Chapter 1: "the universal thump"

I don't know how, but Melville puts these tremendous words in a working class dialect, and speaks to working class needs. And yet they are deeply philosophical and moving in their depiction of a human condition. Thanks so much for this post.
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