Moby Dick Readalong: Part One

Thursday, January 12, 2012


I made it through the first section of Moby Dick for the readalong hosted by The Blue Bookcase! I have been meaning to read this one for years and this provided the perfect motivation to kick me into gear.

Here's the reading schedule...

Jan 12: Chapters 1-28
Jan 19: Chapters 29-55
Jan 26: Chapters 56-93
Feb 2: Chapter 94-epilogue

I'm going to keep my thoughts to a minimum because I feel like I'm still getting acquainted with the book and the characters. So far I've really enjoyed it. Each chapter is incredibly different, but interesting. Allie at A Literary Odyssey gave me some great advice when she said to think of each chapter as a short story. That allowed me to stop trying to force the plot to progress and just enjoy Melville's wander tangents more.

A couple things I enjoyed in this first section:

- Our narrator Ishmael's terrified night anticipating his "pagan" roommate at a boarding house. Then he and said pagan, Queequeg, ended up becoming fast friends.

- People keep screwing up Queequeg's name. They called him Hedgehog and Quohog.

- Everyone is giving some fascinating accounts of Captain Ahab, but we don't actually know him yet.

- I had no idea Ahab had a wife and kid. I always pictured him as a crazy loner with a whale obsession. The family aspect makes him much more relatable.

I'll leave you with one of my favorite quotes from the first quarter of the book.

"With other men, perhaps, such things would not have been inducements; but as for me, I am tormented with an everlasting itch for things remote. I love to sail forbidden seas, and land on barbarous coasts."

9 comments:

Ellen said...

Brave of you to do this readalong! I read Moby Dick maybe three or four years ago, and this first section was my favorite. I loved the descriptions of the desire to work on the sea, as in the passage you quoted. I wonder if Allie's advice, on thinking of each chapter as a story, would have helped me enjoy the read more. One of the most frustrating things in reading this book were those tangents Melville heads off on, and the lack of a real narrative arc made it tough for me to do anything but slog through the book. I don't think I'll be heading back for a reread, but I'm curious to see how your reading goes, with this short story mindset!

Bybee said...

When I finally let go and let Moby, I had a great time with this book.

Suey said...

I would love to read this one someday too... but... not now! :)

Allie said...

I'm glad that my advice seemed to help! :) I know that once I stopped assuming that the plot would move forward with each chapter, I had an easier time understanding the book as a whole!

I love all those scenes you mentioned. The scene in the boarding house had me cracking up. :)

Melissa Hall said...

Ellen - I was really frustrated by the tangents at first too. Now I'm really enjoying it.

Bybee - That's the perfect way to phrase it!

Suey - Definitely wait until you're in the mood for it.

Allie - Seriously, that really helped out. I was having a hard time getting into it because he couldn't seem to take the story in a straight line, but when I let go of that I started to enjoy it.

IngridLola said...

Love that quote you included at the bottom. I'll have to remember this terrific advice to see each chapter as a story, thanks Allie!

Shelley said...

I'm loving the unexpected humor. I thought I was in for a heavy, serious ride, but it's been very fun so far.

Jillian said...

About "screwing up Queequeg's name": I kept reading it as Queenpeg until Adam @ Roof Beam Reader set me straight. I have NO IDEA why. I actually though there was an n in the name!

PS - I need to finish reading my pages. :P

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

IngridLola - Isn't that beautiful!

Shelley - Yes, I'm guessing it will take a turn for the serious at some point, but I'm loving the humor right now.

Jillian - That's hilarious. Thank goodness for Adam.