June 11, 2013

Moby-Dick Readalong Chapters 1-15: Touchés, Bromances and New Words

Oh dear. I really am no good at readalongs, am I? It feels like that time when I was in University and I started to fall behind in my Spanish class. I ended up dropping the class, knowing I could never catch up. It was not my proudest moment. BUT! This isn't University and I'm not being graded on my ability to keep up with my readalong readings of Moby-Dick. (Judged perhaps, but not graded!). So, I will not give-up!

I thought about just trying to catch up with the readings and do one big post, but then I worried that that would be too overwhelming of a post to write. So, instead, I'm going to do a few quick posts covering the required break-down of chapters.

Thoughts on Chapters 1-15:
  • After this first part, we are 15 chapters in and Ismael and Queequeg aren't even on the damn ship yet. I think what blows my mind most when reading big books like this is how little can actually happen in a LOT of pages. In comparison, I read The Great Gatsby before starting Moby-Dick, and at page 74 into The Great Gatsby, I was almost half-way done.
  • I admit I am pleasantly surprised to find the writing funny and witty. I'm constantly underlining lines while smiling to myself. Even the odd "touché" has been muttered:
"Again, I always go to sea as a sailor, because they make a point of paying me for my trouble, whereas they never pay passengers a single penny that I ever heard of. On the contrary, passengers themselves must pay. And there is all the difference in the world between paying and being paid." (p. 5)
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  •  Something I didn't see coming: the serious bromance going on: 
"We had lain thus in bed, chatting and napping at short intervals, and Queequeg now and then affectionately throwing his brown tattooed legs over mine, and then drawing them back; so entirely sociable and free and easy were we..." (p. 58)
I'm not sure this is ever acceptable behaviour between two heterosexual mean. Or, our society is just way more uptight now than back then.
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  • The chapter titles are amusing. For example, chapter 15 is entitled "Chowder" and then we proceed to read 4 pages on chowder. Kind of like "there's your sign!"  Either no thought at all went into naming the chapters, or Melville purposely went with the obvious.  
  • Classics always make me feel a little dumb by reminding me of just how many words I don't know the meaning of, or in this case, haven't even heard of before. 
New word learnt this section: 
1. Noisily and stubbornly defiant.
2. Aggressively boisterous.
The unruly drunkard obstreperously resisted arrest.
So here we are, at the end of Chapter 15 and Ishmael and Queequeg have just arrived in Nantucket and enjoyed some hearty chowder. I'm pretty confident they will get on a ship soon seeing as Chapter 16 is aptly titled, "The Ship".


  1. No judgement from me. As good as it is, Moby Dick is a hard book to read because it throws so many different things at you. I like the chapters about chowder and Queequeg's origins, but I would also like to read the main story! I'm enjoying the book, but at the same time I keep reading just to get through it.

    1. I totally agree! I find myself saying I'm enjoying it, but honestly, I'm just reading it to get through it too. I'm a weeeee bit behind, and I'm finding it hard to pick it up during this "science/text book part".

  2. I think a big catch up post would be too much, too. I'm finding it easier and faster to read than I thought it would be, but the posts are a bit challenging!

    Don't even worry about falling behind, I don't think anyone is on schedule except me, because I kinda have to be :) This is a no pressure readalong!

    I love the humour. I don't know why, but I'm always surprised when BIG SERIOUS CLASSICS are funny. You think I would learn. Most of them are, or at least have their moments.

    You know, the story hasn't come back around to Ishmael and Queequeg yet, and I miss the bromance! Like, are they even sharing a bed? :) They've really faded to the background in the next few parts.

    I am making good use of my Kobo's built-in dictionary, that's for sure. It's nice that dictionaries take a long time to catch up with modern usage, so lots of the archaic shipping terms are still in there.

    The chapter titles are like that the whole way through, as I can tell. Sort of the opposite of the actual text, which goes on, and on, and on. I like it, I sometimes have a window open with a list of the chapter titles and it helps me remember what's happened.

    Ship is indeed next, and Ahab. Curious to see what you'll make of him!

    1. I had high hopes to try and finish this book before I went to Nova Scotia next week! Haha, ok, maybe not finish, but at least have a good dent in it. My goodreads % progress depresses me.

      Yes, let's get back to the "main" story already! More bromance, please! ;)