- Feb 2, 2019
Very nice! Great point about whaling as well. I read Moby Dick many years ago in Greek, then read it in the original English. It's not an easy read, some chapters are very long, the language is difficult for modern readers, and often Melville seems to simply digress from the story just because he loves to talk about whales and whaling! The Greek edition I have has a line in the back, apparently a quote from Melville where he says something along the lines of "all you need to write a big book is a big subject".The original post reads a little like the beginning of a long novel in itself. Two points to ponder. When I first read the book for a college course, I found it a tome, deep in religious and epic meaning. Later, when I read it in middle age, I rediscovered it and was amazed at how humorous it is, and intentionally so, on Melville's part.
One missing piece for the modern reader is that, when it was written, whaling was a huge profitable industry, and the book revealed its inner workings and abuse of its workforce as never before, a bit like a massive expose on the petroleum industry today, which is also transfixed by oil -- from the ground rather than from marine mammals.
An expansive book about an expansive book may have a hard time finding an audience, or a publisher. But you could go the self-published print-on-demand route. Meantime, I'd say, move on with your writing. Melville's masterpiece seems to be your white whale.
I still recall the chapter called Chowder, really puts you there, and drives home the point of a very fishy (despite cetaceans being mammals) story to come. Only other line in a book really putting you into the scene is for me the opening line of William Gibson's Neuromancer: "The sky above the port was the color of television, tuned to a dead channel."
I recall quite a few favourite chapters, one called The Candles, another which discusses in detail, and highly sexually, the squeezing of spermaceti.
Also great feedback from @rmbittner