The Punctuation of Moby-Dick

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(Design by Nicholas Rougeuxvia).

Map of the world, showing major whaling grounds and the inferred track of the Pequod — Barry Moser

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Moby Dick — Hieronimus Fromm

Moby-Dick — Emmanuel Polanco

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“Cover” by Emmanuel Polanco. From 50 Watts’ Polish book cover contest.

Queequeg in His Coffin — Bill Sienkiewicz

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Moby-Dick — Ken Taylor

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“Merry Christmas” (Moby-Dick)

“Merry Christmas”

from Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick

At length, towards noon, upon the final dismissal of the ship’s riggers, and after the Pequod had been hauled out from the wharf, and after the ever-thoughtful Charity had come off in a whale-boat, with her last gift- a nightcap for Stubb, the second mate, her brother-in-law, and a spare Bible for the steward- after all this, the two Captains, Peleg and Bildad, issued from the cabin, and turning to the chief mate, Peleg said:

“Now, Mr. Starbuck, are you sure everything is right? Captain Ahab is all ready- just spoke to him- nothing more to be got from shore, eh? Well, call all hands, then. Muster ‘em aft here- blast ‘em!”

“No need of profane words, however great the hurry, Peleg,” said Bildad, “but away with thee, friend Starbuck, and do our bidding.”

How now! Here upon the very point of starting for the voyage, Captain Peleg and Captain Bildad were going it with a high hand on the quarter-deck, just as if they were to be joint-commanders at sea, as well as to all appearances in port. And, as for Captain Ahab, no sign of him was yet to be seen; only, they said he was in the cabin. But then, the idea was, that his presence was by no means necessary in getting the ship under weigh, and steering her well out to sea. Indeed, as that was not at all his proper business, but the pilot’s; and as he was not yet completely recovered- so they said- therefore, Captain Ahab stayed below. And all this seemed natural enough; especially as in the merchant service many captains never show themselves on deck for a considerable time after heaving up the anchor, but remain over the cabin table, having a farewell merry-making with their shore friends, before they quit the ship for good with the pilot.

But there was not much chance to think over the matter, for Captain Peleg was now all alive. He seemed to do most of the talking and commanding, and not Bildad.

“Aft here, ye sons of bachelors,” he cried, as the sailors lingered at the main-mast. “Mr. Starbuck, drive aft.”

“Strike the tent there!”- was the next order. As I hinted before, this whalebone marquee was never pitched except in port; and on board the Pequod, for thirty years, the order to strike the tent was well known to be the next thing to heaving up the anchor.

“Man the capstan! Blood and thunder!- jump!”- was the next command, and the crew sprang for the handspikes.

Now in getting under weigh, the station generally occupied by the pilot is the forward part of the ship. And here Bildad, who, with Peleg, be it known, in addition to his other officers, was one of the licensed pilots of the port- he being suspected to have got himself made a pilot in order to save the Nantucket pilot-fee to all the ships he was concerned in, for he never piloted any other craft- Bildad, I say, might now be seen actively engaged in looking over the bows for the approaching anchor, and at intervals singing what seemed a dismal stave of psalmody, to cheer the hands at the windlass, who roared forth some sort of chorus about the girls in Booble Alley, with hearty good will. Nevertheless, not three days previous, Bildad had told them that no profane songs would be allowed on board the Pequod, particularly in getting under weigh; and Charity, his sister, had placed a small choice copy of Watts in each seaman’s berth. Continue reading ““Merry Christmas” (Moby-Dick)”

Moby Dick — Ricardo Martinez

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(Via, more).

Wolverine/Moby-Dick (Bill Sienkiewicz)

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Moby-Dick (Alasdair Gray’s Lanark)

It is a relief to turn to the honest American book about the whale. A captain wants to kill it because the last time he tried to do that it bit off his leg while escaping. He embarks with a cosmopolitan crew who don’t like home life and prefer this way of earning money. They are brave, skilful and obedient, they chase the whale round the world and get themselves all drowned together: all but the storyteller. He describes the world flowing on as if they had never existed. There are no women or children in this book, apart from a little black boy whom they accidentally drive mad.

From Alasdair Gray’s unwieldy cult classic Lanark. In this particular episode, a version of the author of the novel Lanark itself (a conjurer-king, not named Gray) discusses and describes the great national epics; he chooses Moby-Dick as the American epic. There is no listing of a Scottish national epic; presumably Gray intends his novel to fill that slot.

(And Yet Another) Moby-Dick (Book Acquired, 4.18.2014)

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So I bought yet another copy of Moby-Dick, despite the many several editions already in our home.

I’d looked for an edition of the Barry Moser illustrated M-D for years—casually, in used book shops—but after a few (ahem) glasses of chardonnay, I bought one for next to nothing on eBay.

Moser’s etchings are superb, of course, and they most often illustrate the technical, scientific, or historical aspects of the novel. Great stuff.

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Another Moby-Dick (Book Acquired, 3.29.2014)

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At the bookstore today with my youngest child, I couldn’t resist yet another copy of Moby-Dick, despite the many several editions already in our home.

Just love Hieronimus Fromm’s vivid illustrations here.

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Ahab — Rockwell Kent

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Moby-Dick(s)

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These are (as near as I can tell) all the versions (translations, if you will) of Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick at our house.

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This is my beloved copy, a hardback Signet Classic edition that’s the size of a mass market paperback.

I love this copy because it was the one that I read when I really read Moby-Dick (I also kinda sorta ‘klept it).

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These abridged versions for young readers are the same, despite the cooler updated cover on the right, which I guess fooled my wife into buying another copy for me to read with my daughter. (She liked it the first time though, so….). Even the illustrations are the same:

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More of a resource than a reading copy—although as Norton Critical Editions go, this one’s footnotes aren’t too obtrusive. Handy dictionary of nautical terms.

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I am a huge fan of Bill Sienkiewicz. And Moby-Dick. I wish his Moby-Dick adaptation had no words though.

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My dad’s childhood adaption, a Grosset & Dunlap from the early ’60s.

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Sam Ita’s fantastic pop-up adaptation fails to mention Herman Melville’s name at all.

Despite the gross oversight, it’s given me hours of joy with my kids.

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Moby-Dick was published on October 18th, 1851 in England.

The English printer Peter Bentley’s text contained numerous errors, including leaving out the epilogue, where we learn that Ishmael survives to bear witness to disaster.

Although the American printing in November of 1851 emended many of these errors, the early reviews of Moby-Dick were scathing, and Melville’s career and reputation deteriorated.

It wasn’t until the advent of literary modernism in the first decades of the twentieth century that the world caught up to Moby-Dick.

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Henry Miller/Georg Büchner (Books Acquired, 4.30.2013)

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Needing another book the same way I need another hole in the head, I nevertheless dropped by my local used bookstore to browse—the place is huge, and a day of grading term papers made me feel zapped and perhaps depressed. Anyway. Spotted a beautiful Penguin edition of Henry Miller’s The Colossus of Maroussi and had to have it. Here’s a passage some soul saw fit to dogear:

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I had never heard of Georg Büchner or his novella fragment Lenz, but it was shelved next to Blake Butler’s Scorch Atlas and both stood out because of their odd shapes.

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Here are the blurbs for Lenz, which more or less sold me:

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Finally, I did not buy yet another edition of Moby-Dick, despite this midcentury Rinheart cover—but I had to snap it to share:

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Selections from One-Star Amazon Reviews of Orwell’s 1984

[Ed. note: The following citations come from one-star Amazon reviews of George Orwell’s novel 1984. I think 1984 is an important dystopian work (although I think Huxley gave us a better book and a more accurate vision in his novel Brave New World). Anyway, I find myself fascinated by one-star Amazon reviews for some reason (see also: See also: Melville’s Moby-Dick, Joyce’s Ulysses and Markson’s Wittgenstein’s Mistress) and to be clear, I think some of the one-star reviews of 1984–including ones I cite here—make some pretty valid points (others are atrocious, of course). I’ve preserved the reviewers’ unique styles of punctuation and spelling].

1984 is a fictional novel by George Orwell.

I don’t really like futuristic based books…

1984 might have been scary 100 years ago, but not now.

…the plot is fairly simplistic but with redundant lines. “Oceania has always been war with Eastasia.” “Freedom is slavery.” “Big Brother is watching you.” In other words, it was nothing but a lot of nonsensical fillers.

I truly believe that Orwell’s sole purpose for writing this novel was to encourage anarchy, and to convince his readers to be subordinate to authority.

The text was so long and unelaborate.

George Orwell is no wordsmith and his style of writing stinks and flows like verbal diarrhea.

i give this book one star i had to read it for class and i know it’s suposed to be a “classic” but god itis awful. first of all its NOTHING like the future is probly going to turn out. second of all every one says the aurthor george orwell is so trippy and wierd but i think he’s just trying to cover up for the fact that HE CAN’T WRITE. please george do us all a faver and stop writing books.

I am not at all intrested in the goverment. This may be part of the reason that I didnt like it.

I personally think big brother is the man.

It is crude, heavy-handed, superficial propaganda.

…a boring, unoriginal one-hit wonder who wanted to make a buck rehashing much-talked-of, much-written-of themes.

It is dark, depressing, and I finished reading it feeling like less of a human than when I started.

Quote from “1984”: “Humanity is nothing more than one man shoving another man’s face in the mud.” So, “1984” tells us that humans are completely useless and we have no reason to exist.

It was just thoughts of a sad man with perverse and suspicouis thoughts. The main character constantly dwelled on how horrible everything was and eventually how he was going to fight against it. But never did, unless you count having an affair and writing in a journal or buying an old paperweight.

Keep your dictionary handy.

I was greatly dissapointed with the redundent and unecessary words.

For me the book took a downword turn during the time where Winston started having a love affair with some girl.

…it doesn’t make any sense to think that a novel like this one is really any better than say, Michael Crichton or Stephen King.

The main character, Winston, daydreams about raping Julia, who later becomes his dirty mistress. Then about a hundred pages later, they get caught by the Thought Police, thrown into “prison,” and are brain washed. That’s pretty much what happens.

…and must we really keep reading in full detail the horror and disgust of Winston’s vericose veins?!

Today, his book is the modern bible of the paranoid disgruntled white male and other conspiracy nutcases.

Human beings are BETTER than this…

In addiction, the contradictions throughout the novel were frustrating.

On the surface it seems to be an interesting glance at the “future” that our grandparents envisioned. This however could not be farther from the truth. 1984 is in fact a lame, boring, and novel that attempts to be philosophical.

…a monumental ode to nothingness, an ideologically streamlined state of unbelievable being.

And please for the love of God don’t read that “Brave New World” book by Hoxley. It is twice as worse as 1984.

Last time I ever read a history book by this Orwell scrub. He doesn’t know a thing about the 80s. Not ONCE did he mention Def Leppard or Karma Chameleon.

Selections from One-Star Amazon Reviews of Melville’s Moby-Dick

[Ed. note: The following citations come from one-star Amazon reviews of Herman Melville’s novel Moby-Dick. To be very clear, I think Moby-Dick is fantasticbut I also enjoy seeing what people compelled to write negative reviews of the book on Amazon had to say. What follows are selections of one-star Amazon reviews; I’ve preserved the reviewers’ unique styles of punctuation and spelling. See also: on Joyce’s Ulysses and Markson’s Wittgenstein’s Mistress].


Yechh.

It made for a smashing movie.

If you want to read lots of meaningless whale trivia read the book.

Boy gets whale. Boy loses whale. Boy gets whale. Spawns yawns

I think if you made it into a short comic strip, you would have liked it.

I bought this book for a friend in jail. Alas, he was unable to read it because the font was too small.

Ray Bradbury, who wrote the screenplay for this novel, (a la Gregory Peck) couldn’t even finish the damn thing!

If you like a story with nonessential information and an author that is entirely to verbose, then this book is for you.

I am quite the fan of stories which involve man eating sea creatures, such as Jaws. Moby Dick is nothing compared to such classics, I fear.

Throughout the book, you may read one chapter with some action only to be followed by 5 or 6 chapters of tangents that are not necessary to understand the story.

Moby Dick, was a horrible waiste of time. Along with its wordy paragraphs, it also talked about uninteresting issues. It is also to long, and you don’t hear of them encountering the whale until the end of the book.

The only people who like this book are english teachers who derive a feeling of moral superiority from forcing others to read this incredibly bad novel.

First of all, classiflying it as fiction is a mistake. Probably a good 60% of the book is non-fiction – chapter after chapter dedicated to every imaginable detail of the biology of the whale and every imaginable nuance of whaling.

I love literatur just as much as the next guy but we must face it 100 years or so ago American literature was reall weak and lagging from the rest of the world, perhaps now they’re starting to catch up with writers like Ann Rice and them.

I have seen better writing in a Hallmark card! Boring! Give me a good ole copy of Elvis and Me! A true story that really tugs at your heart strings! I sleep with that one under my pillow! Keep Moby Dick away from my bed!

Those chapters about Ishmael sleeping with whatever his name was and Ishamel had such a good time with the other guy’s arm over him and leg over him that he didn’t know if he was straight or gay any more.

i personally didn’t enjoy the philosophical or deep side of the book, i have read much much better books in that regard.

There is no suspense, and I find the idea of people hunting whales offensive. Offensive with a capital O.

Honestly, Over 400 pages devoted to killing a whale because it ate your hand? Come on.

It is hard to read. like work. Doubt he could get published today.

What is the whales motivation? You dont know.

It is 540somepages of boring whaling details.

No wonder Melville flopped as a writter.

OMG, this is tedious and torture to read.

I HATE this book. Why? It’s BORING!

Moby Ick’s more like it.