Friday 18 October 2019

Moby-Dick Chapters 41 - 44

My Moby-Dick discovery this week, was finding the art work of Matt Kish. Back in 2009 Matt decided to 'create one illustration for every single one of the 552 pages in the Signet Classic paperback edition.'

It took him 543 days, but he did it. I love seeing which quotes or ideas excited him enough to illustrate. I've included a couple of his images in the post below.

Chapter 41: Moby Dick
  • Finally! The titular whale gets a chapter to himself.
  • And we're back to a chapter narrated by Ishmael. Even though Ish-baby has a tendency to waffle, is pretty full of himself and tell us absolutely EVERYTHING he knows, I love these chapters in his voice.
    • A wild, mystical, sympathetical feeling was in me: Ahab's quenchless feud seemed mine.
  • Ishmael fills us in on ALL the rumours, superstitions and speculation surrounding Moby Dick - what he looks like, his nature, his habits etc.
  • And lots of stuff about the nature of Ahab's madness.
    • All that maddens and torments; all that stirs up the lees of things; all truth with malice in it; all that cracks the sinews and cakes the brain; all the subtle demonisms of life and thought; all evil, to crazy Ahab, were visibly personified, and made practically assailable in Moby Dick.
  • The inscrutable nature of Moby-Dick = the inscrutable nature of god.

Chapter 42: The Whiteness of the Whale
  • Naturally, Ishmael now gives us a chapter all about the colour white - it's symbolism, virtues, associations - which should include a trigger warning for any people with albinism and a major racism alert. 
    • If the state of modern politics and social discourse make you wonder how civilised we really are, reading books from 150 years ago remind us that times have indeed improved. We (generally speaking) treat ALL people far more considerately and respectfully than of old. 
    • It was the whiteness of the whale that above all things appalled me.

Chapter 43: Hark!
  • Noises in the dark!
  • Archy, during the middle-watch hears the sound of coughing under the hatches.
    • there is somebody down in the after-hold that has not yet been seen on deck.
  • Ohhhh, a mystery at sea!

Chapter 44: The Chart
  • Bet you can't guess what this chapter is all about?
    • in the solitude of his cabin, Ahab thus pondered over his charts....For with the charts of all four oceans before him, Ahab was threading a maze of currents and eddies, with a view to the more certain accomplishment of that monomaniac thought of his soul.
  • Continues the idea that Ahab and Moby Dick are somehow connected or in tune with each other. 

How are my shipmates going so far?
Is it smooth sailing, or have you had some choppy waters?

Personally, I've been pleasantly surprised by how much I'm enjoying this book. Life has occasionally got in the way of my schedule, but my enthusiasm continues unabated.

Don't forget to check us out on twitter with #MobyDickReadalong and on instagram with #MobyDickintheWild

Until next week,
Happy Sailing!


  1. This isn't one that I've been particularly tempted to read (whaling stories in general, but the length of this one too) but I can imagine a readalong would make it a much more enjoyable experience. IIRC the campus novel The Art of Fielding has a fair bit of Moby-Dick-ish-ness in it (at least I remember being briefly tempted to read it back when that was new and I'd enjoyed it).

    1. I confess I had to google the book reference you made, but I found that the book was a baseball novel about the Westish College HARPOONERS, whose mascot was MELVILLE and the main characters surname was SKRIMSHANDER. Moby-Dick is everywhere :-)

  2. I am hoping to do a post on MD next week. I am still shocked by how much I am enjoying this book that has been on my "books I fear" list!

  3. Amazing illustrations - I love the white/black/red imagery, although I know it was also used very successfully by the Nazis.

  4. Fascinating post! I'm at Chapter 80 or so, and have stopped posting until I am more in line with the group. It's hard for me not to just finish a book once I begin; I have loved this one!


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