Moby-Dick Big Read, Day 136

And so, finally, we reach the end. When Moby-Dick was published in London by Richard Bentley on October 18, 1851 (using Melville’s original title,┬áThe Whale), it seemed to end with the haunting final words of Chapter 135: Now small fowls flew screaming over the...

Moby-Dick Big Read, Day 135

And so we reach the climactic confrontation between Ahab and the white whale, Moby Dick. It’s a beautiful morning, which prompts Ahab to meditate on the way that feeling often overrules thinking: “What a lovely day again! Were it a new-made world, and made...

Moby-Dick Big Read, Day 134

In “The Tail,” Ishmael refers to the phenomenon of breaching, when the whale bounds out of the water and elevates itself into the air before plunging down again: As in the ordinary floating posture of the Leviathan the flukes lie considerably below the...

Moby-Dick Big Read, Day 133

LIke a dog following a scent, Ahab detects “that peculiar odor, sometimes to a great distance given forth by the living sperm whale” as the chapter opens. As he is hoisted to his perch atop the main royal-mast head, he spies his prey: “There she...

Moby-Dick Big Read, Day 131

  It’s the Pequod‘s final gam, and it’s a bleak one. The “most miserably named” whaleship Delight has, like the Rachel, encountered Moby Dick, and the encounter has brought death. Ishmael gives us this striking image of the destroyed...

Moby-Dick Big Read, Day 130

Those of you who were inclined to doubt whether Ishmael’s depiction of Ahab and Pip is meant to evoke the relationship between King Lear and his fool will be pleased to find that “The Hat” opens with an actual allusion to Shakespeare’s great...

Moby-Dick Big Read, Day 129

“The Cabin” is another dramatic chapter, and it develops further the relationship between mad Ahab and the mad cabin-boy Pip. Ahab now spends all of his time on deck watching for Moby Dick, but tells Pip to stay in the cabin, “where they shall serve...

Moby-Dick Big Read, Day 128

Of all the gams that Ishmael describes in the novel, this meeting with the Rachel is the most fraught — with emotion for the characters and with significance for the narrative. Here the Pequod encounters a ship that, the day before, encountered Moby Dick and...

Moby-Dick Big Read, Day 127

“The Deck” continues the narrative train of thought established at the end of “The Log and Line,” which I suggested we read with Shakespeare’s King Lear in mind. “The Life-Buoy” ended with the carpenter front and center, given...

Moby-Dick Big Read, Day 126

The Pequod, “steering now south-eastward by Ahab’s levelled steel, and her progress solely determined by Ahab’s level log and line” is now seemingly all alone in “unfrequented waters” as she heads toward the Equator, and the mild...

Moby-Dick Big Read, Day 125

After Ahab destroys his quadrant, he declares that “‘the level ship’s compass, and the level dead-reckoning, by log and by line; these shall conduct me, and show me my place on the sea. Aye,’ lighting from the boat to the deck, ‘thus I...