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Moby-Dick is indeed great, Mac. I read it for the first time several years ago, and I also enjoyed all of the digressions and philosophizing a great deal. You are correct, every "reader" that you encounter who gripes about having either read or attempted to read MD has that same complaint. I've been wanting to pick it up again. As I do often with large books, I read faster and faster as I approach the finish line and thus feel that I miss much by the end.

I was about 100 pages or so from the end when I had to put it aside due to travel and other things. That unfortunately sort of broke the spell. But I did plan things so that I was able to read the last 50 pages at one sitting, which was good.

I just discovered that there are two mini-series versions, as well as many other adaptations:


A brief look at the customer reviews on Amazon suggest that neither is all that great.

The 1957 one starring Woody Woodpecker is probably worth investigating.

And Moby Dick: 2010 looks like a winner:


oh my goodness ... Moby Dick 2010, how did we not hear about this eight years ago?

Darn it! I can't read this until I write something, which I was going to do this morning.

That tree is so haunting, I'm not sure I could bear to be around it.


Yes! I loved this book when I read it ten (!) years ago. I really should try to read it again.

The point you make about the technical "digressions" on whales and whaling being, in fact, integrated into the overall thrust of the book, even if not exactly integrated into the plot, is a good one.

For what it's worth, I wrote a brief appreciation of the book when I read it.

I'm also looking forward to hearing what Janet has to say. Did you two plan to read it at the same time?

I tried to read Moby Dick eight or ten years ago, but didn't get very far with it. I intend to get back to it at some point but I need to tackle some Hawthorne first.

That tree is really creepy -- would make a great prop for a ghost story!


No. When Maclin said he was going to read it, or was reading it, I laughed because I had it sitting on the desk, ready to read.


The tree didn't really strike me as creepy. Mainly funny. But as for the problem of being around it, Janet, it doesn't look like that any more. That shore is constantly changing and the tree is not in the water now, and mainly you just see the two uprights sticking up out of the sand, so the human-figure effect isn't really there.

Your review is excellent, Craig. I see we are of very similar minds about the book.

I had only read the first paragraph of the Clifton Fadiman intro when I wrote this post. I read the rest of it this morning and I see that he's pretty much on the same page, too. He was writing in the 1940s and says it was only "in the last twenty years" that MD was more widely and fully appreciated.

Rob, I haven't read Hawthorne for a long time, but from what I remember I think I'd find it a comedown to read him after Melville. Or at least after MD. I read Typee in college and wasn't much impressed. Even at that age I thought it was sort of naive in its "these primitives are so superior"-ness. But that could be a very mistaken impression.

I'm way behind on finishing Marion Montgomery's "Prophetic Poet" trilogy because the last book is on Hawthorne, and I've read very little of him.

Well, both of yours are much deeper than mine, but I agree with all you say.



I was saying something like "Come on, man, just let it go. We're about to encounter the reality. Those questions won't matter anymore."

That is pretty much how I feel even now. I have very little interest in apologetics. I will only discuss that sort of thing if I am talking to someone who asks a question. I just want to try to live my Catholic life and help other people hang in there. ;-)


I'm just trying to hang in there, Janet. I think I need help. Wait a second, I guess we all do.

"Come on, man, just let it go." needs to be the new mantra for 21st century America.

I think the only things I've ever read by Hawthorne are Young Goodman Brown, and The House of Seven Gables (and some of his children's mythologies). I liked Seven Gables, but it is SO dark, and what little I've read of The Scarlet Letter--a very few pages--is also dark. As dark as Ahab's quest is, though, Moby Dick always seemed to me to be infused with light.

I always think that I should read The Scarlet Letter, and maybe I will soon, but I think my next novel will be The Violent Bear It Away.


So, obviously dark.


I think there's something close to a consensus across several generations of high school students that The Scarlet Letter is boring. And of course we need to Listen To The Youth.

I was wondering earlier whether Montgomery had written about Melville at all. That would be interesting.

"...the new mantra..." Yes!

There are maybe a couple of dozen references to Melville in the footnotes to Why Hawthorne Was Melancholy.

My current book is Joan Didion's Slouching Toward Bethlehem. She was quoting that before it was cool. Also dark.

"There are maybe a couple of dozen references to Melville in the footnotes to Why Hawthorne Was Melancholy."

I suspected so. I believe MM mentioned him in passing several times in the first couple volumes.

"My current book is Joan Didion's Slouching Toward Bethlehem"

Just bought that recently but haven't started it. Currently reading D.C. Schindler's recent book on Locke, Freedom From Reality, after reading two collection of D.B. Hart's essays back to back.

Maclin, Did you ever read Each Man in his Darkness?

Every time you mention Joan Didion, I think, "I need to read that." But how to fit it in?


In response to the "western canon" aspect of this post, that is certainly my goal, reading and re-reading great European and American novels from mainly the 19th century but some before and some after, probably none in the 21st century. We might agree on what to actually read, but the re-reading part does become difficult. I just re-read Les Miserables, and think I enjoyed it this second time more than the first, but my goodness it is a long slog. This has me wanting to re-read War & Peace, just as long if not slightly longer. Both of these make a re-read of Moby-Dick seem like childs play. I get a lot out of reading a book a second (or third) time that I did not get the first time around, when I seem more interested in the framework/plot of the novel and perhaps am less keenly into the details. Then of course there is my predisposition to buy new versions of classic novels if my original ones seem old, yellowy, cracked, etc. there being so many new ones always being published. Someone has to support the book industry!

I'm sure you are storing up treasure in heaven by buying books. :-)

When I talked about reading All The Books, I meant starting with Homer. I even have a copy of selections from Homer in Greek, and a Greek textbook. Such were the illusions of youth....

No, I haven't read Each Man yet, Janet, but I plan to. It was actually next on my list, but I picked up the Didion book to look up one thing and decided to read it all, back-to-front, which I'd never done before--it's essays so you can pick and choose.

Wow, that is a much more lofty goal, Mac. I do often wish that I could read in French and Latin, but other than that my goals are a little less than Homer in the Greek and forward.

I have the textbook to read Homer and I actually studied it for a while. I keep thinking that I should get rid of it, and then I think, "Not yet."


If the Didion is essays, I will try to get it on Hoopla tomorrow.


The time for me to give away the Greek books has definitely arrived.

I have a lot of theological books I need to say goodbye to. I'm simply not that interested in straight theology anymore and most of them have not been looked at in ages. I think the last time I read an actual work of theology was probably around 2005.

Reading theology mostly went the way of reading Homer in Greek for me. Gilson's four-volume commentary on Aquinas is another one I need to unload. Though I think the reason I have it in the first place is that a college library was discarding it and I thought I should save it.

That's how I got my 30 volume Eerdman's Church Fathers. It's gone now.

I have one Gilson that I'm keeping because I think I would like to have some idea what he was like.


30?!?!? I guess I might have done that, too, to save it from death.

I had wanted a set of those for years, and they were selling them in the seminary library for 50 cents each. I couldn't believe that none of the seminarians wanted them. So, when I showed interest, the librarian said I could have them. However, the pages were deteriorating and I couldn't read them for long, so after 10 years, I gave them to the public library to sell.


I hope somebody buys them. And maybe even reads them.

Mac --

Two lines in this marvelous post compel me to comment.

1. Moby Dick being told in Hemingway-esque prose is the most thought-provoking idea I have come across in...well, in some time. I agree with you that it could be effective, assuming readers who are willing to do the extra work that Hemingway requires of his readers. And then it occurred to me that, in one sense, Moby Dick and The Old Man and the Sea tell the same story. Isn't Ahab's tragedy the same one that Santiago -- Hemingway's old man -- identifies as his own: he "went out too far"? A tragedy that's not really a tragedy, or, at the very worst, the defining tragedy of the human spirit.

2. What does it mean when you dream about a Nash Metropolitan? It means you're at least as old as I am. Question: Was it the pink-and-white, the aqua-and-white, or the yellow-and-white? That could be significant.

1. I was thinking of Old Man, actually. Definitely a broad similarity. I haven't read it for a long time, but if memory serves, the situations are similar but the old man is Ahab's opposite. Or maybe only 90 degrees from him rather than 180. Anyway, I remember the old man being purely resigned, not defiant and obsessed like Ahab.

2. There were two, one indeed aqua-and-white but the other red-and white. Whereas the one I knew in real life, which belonged to a teenage friend of mine, was yellow-and-white. It was a preposterous vehicle, embarrassing to be seen in, which we could only deal with by treating it as a joke.

p.s. Thank you.

I didn't know Nash Metropolitan was a car, but as soon as Jeff mentioned the colors, it appeared in my mind.


You mean you remembered seeing one?

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