DC Great Books Reading Group Message Board › Some information about Moby Dick from Patrick

Some information about Moby Dick from Patrick

Kathy M.
user 13392044
Washington, DC
Post #: 20
>If you've always wanted to read "Moby Dick" but have never made time for it, grab your sleeping bag and head to the New Bedford Whaling Museum the first weekend after the New Year, for their annual Moby Dick Marathon. Each year, the museum, located an hour south of Boston, marks the date in 1841 when Herman Melville set sail from New Bedford on a whaling vessel bound for the South Pacific by staging a marathon reading of the 225,000 word classic . . . .

>The whaling trade made New Bedford one of the wealthiest cities in the country by the mid 19th Century. By 1857, the town boasted some 329 whaling ships, barks, and
schooners, valued at $12 million, which provided employment for some 10,000 men in the area . . . .

>The low ranking crew members lived in deplorable conditions and were paid based on a profit sharing system that sometimes left them with little to show for years of toil under near-starvation conditions. For example, the Whaling Museum Visitor's Center shows a graphic about the earnings of a typical whaling vessel that was at sea for 2 years, 9 months and 22 days from 1853-5. The boat made a total profit of $75,402, and of that, the merchant who bankrolled the enterprise made $19,793, the captain made $1,885, the chief mate $1,131, and the seaman brought home just $133 bucks a piece. Adjusted for inflation, that $133 is still only $3,442 for nearly three years of work!


Moby Dick Cartoons and Parodies

1) http://www.cartoonsto...­

2) http://eqcomics.com/c...­

3) http://www.cartoonsto...­

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5) http://www.ibiblio.or...­

6) http://imgc.allposter...­

7) http://www.cartoonsto...­

8) http://www.brickshelf...­

9) http://www.cartoonsto...­

10) http://www.cartoonsto...­

11) http://cakeordeathcar...­

12) http://www.comicstrip...­

Melville in Jerusalem

>Melville in Jerusalem
>The "Moby-Dick" author sought spiritual connection on an 1857 Holy Land trip. He found dust and rocks instead.
>David Sugarman, August 16, 2012

>Herman Melville, the popular writer of adventure stories, all but lost his readership with the publication of "Moby-Dick; or The Whale." “Mr. Melville has survived his reputation,” one critic wrote in 1851 of the “imposing” novel, with its diatribes, tangents, and verbosity. “If he had been contented with writing one or two books, he might have been famous, but his vanity has destroyed all his chances for immortality, or even of a good name with his own generation.” While some reviewers recognized the greatness of "Moby-Dick," it failed to achieve the success Melville had hoped for, selling only a scant 3,100 copies during his lifetime. “Though I wrote the Gospels in this century,” he lamented to his friend Nathaniel Hawthorne, “I shall die in the gutter.”

>Melville never fully recovered from the disappointing response to "Moby-Dick." In 1857, upon the suggestion of his wife, Melville set off to Europe and the Middle East in the hopes of finding some clarity, inspiration, and cheer. It was on this trip that Melville visited Jerusalem, a place that did not live up to the author’s high expectations . . . .

>When Melville wrote "Moby-Dick," he was living in Pittsfield, Mass., a small New England town that is currently celebrating the life and work of the author with its summer-long Call Me Melville festival. But Pittsfield, in the wake of "Moby-Dick's" poor reception, was not a happy place for Melville. His farm was losing money, and his career seemed to be in shambles. He followed "Moby-Dick" with "Pierre" (1852), another financial and critical disappointment, and then several stories for Harper’s New Monthly Magazine and Putnam’s Monthly Magazine, among them Bartleby the Scrivener (1853) and Benito Cereno (1855). Each short story hints at the author’s anger, despair, and exhaustion. Another novel, "Israel Potter," published in 1855, did little to change his reputation . . . . Those closest to Melville grew increasingly worried; the writer seemed fatigued, unhappy, and even, some suggested, suicidal . . . .

>Given Melville’s anguished state, his wife, Elizabeth Shaw, proposed—and his father-in-law, Lemuel Shaw, chief justice of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, agreed to finance—a trip overseas . . . . On Oct. 11, 1856, Melville boarded the Glasgow, a steamer bound for England . . . . As he sails the Mediterranean in mid-winter, Melville’s exuberance is clear in his journal . . . . And then Melville arrived in Jerusalem.

>His first description of the city: “unless knew it, could not have recognized it—looked exactly like arid rocks.” Melville had expected a place that felt closer to God than New York City or Massachusetts, a place of high sentiment and spirituality. Instead, he got dust and flies . . . . Melville’s ruminations on Jerusalem are sometimes so bleak as to be comical.
"Stones of Judea. We read a good deal about stones in Scriptures. Monuments & stumps of the memorials are set up of stones; men are stoned to death; the figurative seed falls in stony places; and no wonder that stones should so largely figure in the Bible. Judea is one accumulation of stones—stony mountains & stony plains; stony torrents & stony roads; stony walls & stony fields, stony houses & stony tombs; stony eyes & stony hearts. Before you and behind you are stones. Stones to the right & stones to the left."

>To be fair, Jerusalem wasn’t much to speak of in the 1850s. The city was part of the Ottoman Empire, and its fate was intertwined with that of the dying sultanate. Contemporary accounts of Jerusalem describe little infrastructure, terrible corruption, a lack of hospitals, and an absence of social amenities and order . . . . Melville’s description of a backwater pile of rocks full of dusty religious types is not that much of a metaphorical overreach.

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