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Frequent Contributor
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Registered: ‎10-27-2006
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Moby Dick and Shakespeare

I am weak in my Shakespeare but it will be intereresting to explore the connection. As the Shakespeare board opens here on BN maybe we could look into it more.

ziki
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friery
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Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: Moby Dick and Shakespeare


ziki wrote:
I am weak in my Shakespeare but it will be intereresting to explore the connection. As the Shakespeare board opens here on BN maybe we could look into it more.

ziki




I'd also like to explore the connection.

I've seen echoes in Ahab of King Lear's raging against the storm:

Blow, winds, and crack your cheeks! rage! blow!
You cataracts and hurricanoes, spout
Till you have drench'd our steeples, drown'd the cocks!
You sulphurous and thought-executing fires,
Vaunt-couriers to oak-cleaving thunderbolts,
Singe my white head! And thou, all-shaking thunder,
Smite flat the thick rotundity o' the world!
Crack nature's moulds, and germens spill at once,
That make ingrateful man!

Chapter CXIX, the Candles, echoes this.

And, one of the great opening lines in all of Shakespeare appears at least twice that I've noticed: "Who's there?" (Last in the Candles chapter.) That's how Hamlet begins.

And Melville's format often turns theatrical. Chapter CVIII has a stage setting and a soliloquy by the carpenter.

In chapter CXXV, page 597 (B&N ed.), "the skewer seems loosening out of the middle of the world" sounded to me like the "time is out of joint" line from Hamlet.

And I'm sure there's lots more.
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fanuzzir
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American Shakespeare

Shakespeare is an inescapable reference here for Melville, as it represented to him both the high culture to which America aspired and the popular culture at which American already excelled. Adaptations of Shakespeare were nearly universal in American cities of the 19th century, and gave countless audiences the chance to do what we are doing with Ahab: admiring and regretting the tragedy of heroism. Shakespeare's influence in this sense was almost as great as Emerson's in teaching America a taste for great heroic characters. (The only true blue American hero before this, Cooper's Natty Bumbo in The Last of the Mohicans, is actually quite quixotic and courtly).
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the last of the Mohicans?

Will we read The Last of the Mohicans here?
ziki
not sticking to topic, sorry
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fanuzzir
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Re: the last of the Mohicans?

If that's what you want, I could float the idea. But I warn you: though there are gorgeous passages and a thrilling narrative, long portions of that novel are DEADLY.
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Laurel
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Re: the last of the Mohicans?

SNORE!



fanuzzir wrote:
If that's what you want, I could float the idea. But I warn you: though there are gorgeous passages and a thrilling narrative, long portions of that novel are DEADLY.


"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: the last of the Mohicans?

[ Edited ]

fanuzzir wrote:
If that's what you want, I could float the idea. But I warn you: though there are gorgeous passages and a thrilling narrative, long portions of that novel are DEADLY.


Worst than blubber? If so...we forget it.
ziki

Message Edited by ziki on 02-01-200706:56 AM

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friery
Posts: 209
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: Moby Dick and Shakespeare


ziki wrote:
I am weak in my Shakespeare but it will be intereresting to explore the connection. As the Shakespeare board opens here on BN maybe we could look into it more.

ziki




One last Shakespeare allusion from Moby Dick. In the second chase episode, Ahab says, "I'll ten times girdle the unmeasured globe; yea and dive straight through it, but I'll slay him yet!"

This echoes Puck's statement in Midsummer Night's Dream that "I’ll put a girdle round about the earth in forty minutes."

And that's a wonderful segue from the Moby Dick book club to Midsummer Night's Dream...
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