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)

20140504-091858.jpg

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.

20140504-091909.jpg

20140504-091923.jpg

20140504-091931.jpg

Another Moby-Dick (Book Acquired, 3.29.2014)

20140329-170830.jpg

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.

20140329-170846.jpg

20140329-170912.jpg

20140329-170928.jpg

Ahab — Rockwell Kent

39-17-02/68

Moby-Dick(s)

20131019-174532.jpg

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

20131019-174553.jpg

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).

20131019-174611.jpg

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:

20131019-174620.jpg

20131019-174629.jpg

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.

20131019-174637.jpg

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

20131019-174646.jpg

20131019-174655.jpg

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

20131019-174705.jpg

20131019-174716.jpg

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.

20131019-174740.jpg

20131019-174748.jpg

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.

20131019-174756.jpg

Henry Miller/Georg Büchner (Books Acquired, 4.30.2013)

20130430-165618.jpg

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:

20130430-165623

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.

20130430-165633.jpg

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

20130430-165639.jpg

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

20130430-165646.jpg

 

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.