Monday, June 30, 2008

The #1 Most Important Book?

I'm a couple of chapters behind. That damn chapter on the whale science, "Cetology," is one of the worst god-awful things ever written. How this plays into the narrative is a mystery. The only discernible reason is that Melville is including absolutely everything on whales that gets into his head. He even admits that half the stuff he is completely making up, saying that he doesn't know or that he comes up with names for this stuff. He instills in himself some kind of authority.

Another post coming up soon about the only chapter really worth mentioning so far, the one where we finaly see Ahab and his lust for vengeance.

Today, I came across a weird reference to Moby Dick . It appears in Newsweek that author Jane Yolen likes this book.

Books: Jane Yolen
Updated: 11:23 AM ET May 24,
The author of more than 280 books, Yolen, a writer of folklore fantasy
and children's literature, is best known for her Holocaust novella "The Devil's
Arithmetic." Her latest work, "Naming Liberty," tells the story of a Russian
girl and the designer of the Statue of Liberty.
My Five Most Important Books
1. "Moby-Dick" by Herman Melville. It's a book I reread every 10 years,
which is coming up again. I even love the whale parts.

To be honest, that isn't much of a reason to me.

This book keeps surfacing in the oddest places. A prominent author has this listed as her most important book of all time? I must dive into this mystery.

[On another note, I find it funny that Newsweek is using quotation marks for book titles. WTF?]

1 comment:

Steve Whitt said...

I have a different take on the whaling chapter. I think Melville's bad science in this chapter, and some of Melville's other comments on the science of his day (will whaling drive the whales to extinction - no, Melville says) show Melville's lack of imagination. They help me understand how he can have Ahab fail after his great realization of individuality. So while they're not important in the sense Melville wanted them to be, they are important in showing why the book is in my opinion ultimately a failure.