I'm roughly halfway. I am doing it! I'm on Chapter 53 and my book is looking a little worse for wear! It is split apart and must be kept together with a rubber band:
Oddly though, then comes Chapter 45 "The Affidavit" where Melville admits his lack of narrative!
So far as what there may be of a narrative in this book; and, indeed, as
indirectly touching one or two very interesting and curious particulars in the
habits of sperm whales, the foregoing chapter, in its earlier part, is as
important a one as will be found in this volume; but the leading matter of it
requires to be still further and more familiarly enlarged upon, in order to be
adequately understood, and moreover to take away any incredulity which a
profound ignorance of the entire subject may induce in some minds, as to the
natural verity of the main points of this affair.
Excuse me? So all of this stuff, like that blasted chapter on Cetology, was "to take away any incredulity."
Through Sparknotes.com and other resources, I have discovered that whaling as an industry was mostly dying as Melville wrote the book. Is this two books? One part novel and one part an encyclopedia of sorts for a dying industry? It is possible then, based on this Chapter 45, that Melville saw a possibility of modern man not understanding this foreign industry, like we wouldn't be able to understand a profession centuries later. Possible. I'll give him the benefit of the doubt.