View Full Version : Classic Book of the Month - Moby Dick

05-11-2014, 10:10 PM
So the Classic Book of the Month for May will be Moby Dick by Herman Melville. This is the perfect book first book of the month for tPF.

So if you have not read Moby Dick then read it. If you have read Moby Dick read it again. ( unabridged )

So you read it and tell us what you thought of it. Give us a short review. If you have read it Im only kidding about you having to read it again. Why do you like the book? What have you noticed that you think the sparknotes may have missed?


In my opinion the people that review books are often retards and also propagandists. Like I hate 'spaknotes' because they are mostly wrong and brainwashing nonsense that ruins a book.

Why did you like Moby Dick? What have people missed?

I will write a review later maybe. For now I will just say that I was beyond disappointed with how it ended. Angry even.


05-12-2014, 01:22 AM
I don't know if I've ever read the whole book. I've checked it out from the library a few times. I watched the movie with Gregory Peck just last month. It's a Biblical movie, with references to Noah's flood among other Biblical themes, and the Moby Dick movie reminds me a little bit of Aranofsky's Noah. There's the sense that underneath the surface of this tranquil planet, a great menace lurks.

I've been through a few major natural disasters, as most of you also have. I've been at the epicenter of major earthquakes and inside of a house hit by a mudslide. I could go into greater detail, but trust me that I've witnessed Mother Nature taking over and making the tiny humans squirm and pay the price for their pathetic little fragility. When I was in 7th grade, 17 people died on my road from mudslides. Most of them are still buried up there.

In Moby Dick, I get the sense that Captain Ahab is attempting at all costs to overcome his vulnerability to Nature.

"These are the times of dreamy quietude, when beholding the tranquil beauty and brilliancy of the ocean's skin, one forgets the tiger heart that pants beneath it; and would not willingly remember, that this velvet paw but conceals a remorseless fang."
--Chapter CXIV

05-12-2014, 06:25 AM
I always thought Moby Dick was just the latest STD.

05-12-2014, 05:58 PM
Orson Wells plays the part of Father Mapple in John Huston's Moby Dick (1956)

Chapter 9: Father Mapple's Sermon
""Father Mapple rose, and in a mild voice of unassuming authority ordered the scattered people to condense. There was a low rumbling of heavy sea-boots among the benches, and a still slighter shuffling of women's shoes, and all was quiet again, and every eye on the preacher.
He paused a little; then kneeling in the pulpit's bows, folded his large brown hands across his chest, uplifted his closed eyes, and offered a prayer so deeply devout that he seemed kneeling and praying at the bottom of the sea.
This ended, in prolonged solemn tones, like the continual tolling of a bell in a ship that is foundering at sea in a fog- in such tones he commenced reading [a hymn of Jonah and the Whale]. Nearly all joined in singing this hymn, which swelled high above the howling of the storm. A brief pause ensued; the preacher slowly turned over the leaves of the Bible, and at last, folding his hand down upon the proper page, said: "Beloved shipmates, clinch the last verse of the first chapter of Jonah- 'And God had prepared a great fish to swallow up Jonah.'"

"Shipmates, this book, containing only four chapters- four yarns- is one of the smallest strands in the mighty cable of the Scriptures. Yet what depths of the soul Jonah's deep sealine sound! what a pregnant lesson to us is this prophet! What a noble thing is that canticle in the fish's belly! How billow-like and boisterously grand! We feel the floods surging over us, we sound with him to the kelpy bottom of the waters; sea-weed and all the slime of the sea is about us! But what is this lesson that the book of Jonah teaches? Shipmates, it is a two-stranded lesson; a lesson to us all as sinful men, and a lesson to me as a pilot of the living God. As sinful men, it is a lesson to us all, because it is a story of the sin, hard-heartedness, suddenly awakened fears, the swift punishment, repentance, prayers, and finally the deliverance and joy of Jonah. As with all sinners among men, the sin of this son of Amittai was in his wilful disobedience of the command of God- never mind now what that command was, or how conveyed- which he found a hard command. But all the things that God would have us do are hard for us to do- remember that- and hence, he oftener commands us than endeavors to persuade. And if we obey God, we must disobey ourselves; and it is in this disobeying ourselves, wherein the hardness of obeying God consists.
"With this sin of disobedience in him, Jonah still further flouts at God, by seeking to flee from Him. He thinks that a ship made by men, will carry him into countries where God does not reign but only the Captains of this earth. He skulks about the wharves of Joppa, and seeks a ship that's bound for Tarshish. There lurks, perhaps, a hitherto unheeded meaning here. By all accounts Tarshish could have been no other city than the modern Cadiz. That's the opinion of learned men. And where is Cadiz, shipmates? Cadiz is in Spain; as far by water, from Joppa, as Jonah could possibly have sailed in those ancient days, when the Atlantic was an almost unknown sea. Because Joppa, the modern Jaffa, shipmates, is on the most easterly coast of the Mediterranean, the Syrian; and Tarshish or Cadiz more than two thousand miles to the westward from that, just outside the Straits of Gibraltar. See ye not then, shipmates, that Jonah sought to flee worldwide from God? Miserable man! Oh! most contemptible and worthy of all scorn; with slouched hat and guilty eye, skulking from his God; prowling among the shipping like a vile burglar hastening to cross the seas. So disordered, self-condemning in his look, that had there been policemen in those days, Jonah, on the mere suspicion of something wrong, had been arrested ere he touched a deck. How plainly he's a fugitive! no baggage, not a hat-box, valise, or carpet-bag,- no friends accompany him to the wharf with their adieux. At last, after much dodging search, he finds the Tarshish ship receiving the last items of her cargo; and as he steps on board to see its Captain in the cabin, all the sailors for the moment desist from hoisting in the goods, to mark the stranger's evil eye. ...
"Now Jonah's Captain, shipmates, was one whose discernment detects crime in any, but whose cupidity exposes it only in the penniless. In this world, shipmates, sin that pays its way can travel freely and without a passport; whereas Virtue, if a pauper, is stopped at all frontiers.""

Father Mapple's sermon sets the table for the future plot as, many chapters later, we are introduced to Captain Ahab-- a figure whose character is diametrically opposed to that of Jonah

05-12-2014, 06:47 PM
In a sense, Ahab strives obsessively to slay god (or god's messenger). Ahab is protrayed as an incomplete man. Within him is a gaping hole, filled with hate for Moby Dick. And don't we continue in that effort to this day? Like Ahab, is it not our ambition to slay god, and therby preserve ourselves, and to take command as the undisputed Captains of this world?

Father Mapple continues;

"" I fear the Lord!" cries Jonah. The God of Heaven who hath made the sea and the dry land!

Again, the sailors mark him: Wretched Jonah cries out to Him! Cast him overboard. For he knew.

For his sake, this great tempest was upon them.

Now behold Jonah: taken up as an anchor and dropped into the sea, into the dreadful jaws awaiting him.

And the Great Whale shuts to all his ivory teeth like so many white bolts upon his prison. And Jonah cries unto the Lord, out of the fish's belly. But observe his prayer, Shipmates. He doesn't weep or wail. He feels his punishment is just. He leaves deliverance to God. And even out of the belly of Hell, grounded upon the ocean's utmost bones, God heard him when he cried.

And God spake unto the Whale. And from the shuddering cold and blackness of the deep, the Whale breeched into the sun and vomited out Jonah on the dry land. And Jonah, bruised and beaten, his ears like two seashells, still mutlitudinously murmuring of the ocean, Jonah did the Almighty's bidding.


Now Shipmates, woe to him who seeks to pour oil on the troubled waters when God has brewed them into a gale. Yea, woe to him who, as the Pilot Paul has it, while preaching to others is himself a castaway. But delight is to him who against the proud gods and commodores of this earth stands forth his own inexorable self, who destroys all sin, though he pluck it out from the robes of senators and judges! And Eternal Delight shall be his, who coming to lay him down can say:

- Oh Father, mortal or immortal, here I die.
I have driven to be thine,
more than to be this world's or mine own,
yet this is nothing
I leave eternity to Thee.

For what is man that he should [outlive] the lifetime of his God?"

Oh indeed. What is man that he should outlive his god? Or, as Nietzsche describes, how wretched is man after god is murdered by our own hands? Nietzsche decribes the post-god world thusly; "A "scientific" interpretation of the world, as you understand it, might therefore still be one of the most stupid of all possible interpretations of the world, meaning that it be one of the poorest in meaning. This thought is intended for the ears and consciences of our mechanists who nowadays like to pass as philosophers and insist that mechanics is the doctrine of the first and last laws on which all existence must be based as on a ground floor. But an essentially mechanical world would be an essentially meaningless world. Assuming that one estimated the value of a piece of music according to how much of it could be counted, calculated, and expressed in formulas: how absurd would such a "scientific" estimation of music be! What would one have comprehended, understood, grasped of it? Nothing, really nothing of what is "music" in it!

05-12-2014, 11:44 PM
I thought we were reading Pride and Prejudice????

05-13-2014, 12:46 AM
I thought we were reading Pride and Prejudice????

That's kind of a girly romance novel with lots of tea and bonnets and crumpets, isn't it. And, it's British. Not that there's anything wrong with that, but it would seem an odd choice for the inaugural tPF book club book.

05-13-2014, 07:42 PM
That's kind of a girly romance novel with lots of tea and bonnets and crumpets, isn't it. And, it's British. Not that there's anything wrong with that, but it would seem an odd choice for the inaugural tPF book club book.

You never even thought of a TPF book club so stop being a dick. The people who thought of starting the TPF book club are reading Pride and Prejudice.

There's always a whale sized dick in every crowd.

05-13-2014, 07:53 PM
It has been a long time since I read Moby Dick. I have not read Pride and Prejudice. Of course I have seen the movie (only when forced to by g/fs)

05-14-2014, 05:03 AM
I hate Jane Austen. I think.

edit- she is a realist anyway.

05-14-2014, 05:07 AM
I thought we were reading Pride and Prejudice????

Sorry. Im not Oprah. Relax. You are free to read her trash if you need to.

05-14-2014, 05:08 AM
Ok. I will tell you what I think of Moby Dick. Wait

Ok I have not read spark notes or whatever but I hear people saying its about revenge a lot. But I think it is about denial just as much.

.Ahab was angry at himself because he wasted his life at sea and didnt realize until it was too late. He had a wife he didnt really even know.The important theme lost on everyone is denial - WV

Maybe this is in the sparknotes but I really do not think Ahab is angry with the whale. He is angry with himself. He wants revenge on himself.

See Im not finding the pages but all that stuff about his wife and that guy that he crippled and all the regret.

I really like the Ahab character and I read the book after a girl that I liked had broken up with me and I was kind of sad.

I really like that bit at the start about appreciating a warm fire on a freezing cold night.

I hate that they didnt kill the whale. It really annoys me. Still.

Ahab is one of my favourite characters from anything.

edit- It seems that nobody understands how significant Ahabs family ( wife/son ) is to the whole thing. I will find the pages when I feel like it and post it because it is key.

edit- Here we go. This guy is smart.


edit- I really do not believe that many have the ability to feel Ahab. He is misunderstood is seems to me.

05-14-2014, 12:59 PM
Ok. I will tell you what I think of Moby Dick...

I hate that they didnt kill the whale. It really annoys me. Still.

Ahab is one of my favourite characters from anything.

edit- It seems that nobody understands how significant Ahabs family ( wife/son ) is to the whole thing. I will find the pages when I feel like it and post it because it is key.

edit- Here we go. This guy is smart.


edit- I really do not believe that many have the ability to feel Ahab. He is misunderstood is seems to me.

I find Ahad to be a sympathetic character. I even have sympathy for King Ahab in the Bible, who was totally taken in by the pleasures of Jezebel. We've all been like Captain Ahab, at one time or another, shaking our fist at the universe.

The whale seems to alternately and simultaneously represent Fate, God, the Devil, and Mother Nature. Part of the whole moral is that the whale can't be killed. Yet Ahab will pursue the White Whale, none the less. He has been sometimes compared to Icarus, who flew too close to the sun.

Ahab pursues the great fish. He orders the blacksmith to melt down several harpoons in order to forge a single kick-ass harpoon for himself. Ahab is all in. All in. He's taking everyone down with him too, because he knows something. That's why he cried when he remembers his daughters. It's because of what he knows. And it drives him mad, and in his madness he knows something that we don't.

"Man's insanity is heaven's sense; and wandering from all mortal reason, man comes at last to that celestial thought, which, to reason is absurd and frantic; and weal or woe, feels then uncompromised, indifferent as his God." -Chapter XCIII

05-18-2014, 01:07 PM
“Consider the subtleness of the sea; how its most dreaded creatures glide under water, unapparent for the most part, and treacherously hidden beneath the loveliest tints of azure. Consider also the devilish brilliance and beauty of many of its most remorseless tribes, as the dainty embellished shape of many species of sharks. Consider, once more, the universal cannibalism of the sea; all whose creatures prey upon each other, carrying on eternal war since the world began.

Consider all this; and then turn to the green, gentle, and most docile earth; consider them both, the sea and the land; and do you not find a strange analogy to something in yourself? For as this appalling ocean surrounds the verdant land, so in the soul of man there lies one insular Tahiti, full of peace and joy, but encompassed by all the horrors of the half-known life. God keep thee! Push not off from that isle, thou canst never return!” --Melville, Moby Dick LVIII

Melville, in every example of his craft, calls our attention to the Human Condition. Indelibly, he scribes in ink the internal struggles faced by man in his predicament; The nature of man and the unavoidable reality that he finds himself steeped in (both seen and unseen, observed and unobservable). Shipmates, we glide over the surface of the deep, and it is when we are "caught in the swift and sudden turn of death that mortals realize the silent, subtle, ever-present perils of life" (Ch. LX). Indeed, 21st Century man routinely denies the very existence of the Human Condition. Some would "take this whole universe for a vast practical joke, though the wit thereof they but dimly discern" (Ch LXIX).

Yet there exists that happy isle, "one insular Tahiti", paradise, somewhere in that vast and terrible sea that is the human soul.