Moby-Dick Big Read, Day 120

After the high drama of “The Candles,” we are given a mercifully brief chapter, “The Deck Towards the End of the First Night Watch,” as if the novel itself were exhausted by what has just occurred. Reinforcing the idea that “The...

Moby-Dick Big Read, Day 119

“The Candles” is a momentous chapter in the novel, a restaging of the ritual conducted in “The Quarter-Deck,” designed to get the crew to reaffirm the oath it has sworn to hunt down and destroy Moby Dick. Ahab takes advantage of an incident of...

Moby-Dick Big Read, Day 118

    In this chapter, the Pequod is cruising the Japanese sea with its “unblinkingly vivid Japanese sun” when Ahab gives the order to turn the ship toward the equator, in what he and the sailors hope will be their final approach to an encounter...

Moby-Dick Big Read, Day 117

For some years, never mind how many precisely, I taught Moby-Dick in the context of an NYU MAP course called “Conversations of the West.” That set of courses typically spent the first half of the term on readings from the Biblical and Classical traditions...

Moby-Dick Big Read, Day 116

Although the Pequod is moving in the opposite direction — both literally and metaphorically — from the happy, homeward bound ship with which it gammed in the last chapter, a little bit of the Bachelor’s luck seems to rub off on Ahab’s boat,...

Moby-Dick Big Read, Day 113

Perth, like Ahab, is associated with fire: Ahab comments on the sparks that his forge sends out, but notes that the blacksmith “lives among them without a scorched.” Perch replies that he is “past scorching: not easily can’st thou scorch a...

Moby-Dick Big Read, Day 112

Now that the ship is anticipating a meeting before long with Moby Dick, there’s a lot of call for the services of Perth, the blacksmith, and Ishmael takes the opportunity to tell Perth’s story. Though ostensibly “The Blacksmith” is a...

Moby-Dick Big Read, Day 111

Ishmael begins: “When gliding by the Bashee isles we emerged at last upon the great South Sea; were it not for other things, I could have greeted my dear Pacific with uncounted thanks, for now the long supplication of my youth was answered; that serene ocean...

Moby-Dick Big Read, Day 106

The five-chapter-long narrative digression on the past, present, and future of the whale is now over: “Ahab’s Leg” brings back to our plot (such as it is) and the immediate aftermath of the gam with the Samuel Enderby. During his precipitous return...