Monday, 13 June 2016
Sofa Spotlight - Moby Dick, Herman Melville
If you like whales and by that I mean really like whales, and want to know all about them in detail, then this is the book for you.
Reading this book was a challenge and not just because of it's length. What I found disappointing was that I found early on that I enjoyed Melville's style of writing but he used a lot of ink describing whales and not telling the story. In fairness understanding whales and what happened on whaling ships is important for the plot. But I felt it was too much. To get through the book I found that it was necessary to read it in one hundred page chunks. That way I felt I had achieved enough not to get discouraged by slow progress.
So the plot. The narrator of the story is a sailor called Ishmael who joins a ship called the Pequod, captained by Captain Ahab. Ahab has only one leg, having lost one whilst trying to catch a famous white whale. The white whale is known as Moby Dick and seems to have torn Ahab's leg off, which didn't make Ahab very happy. Once they set sail it becomes clear that Ahab isn't interested in whale fishing as he is supposed to be - he is out to hunt Moby Dick and take revenge. Which is what the book is about, as well as an extensive history of whale fishing and whale biology.