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The Whale

The Whale

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Repeatedly, Ishmael refers to his writing of the book: "But how can I hope to explain myself here; and yet, in some dim, random way, explain myself? Buell finds the evidence that Melville changed his ambitions during writing "on the whole convincing", since the impact of Shakespeare and Hawthorne was "surely monumental", [98] but others challenge the theories of the composition in three ways. For years he knows not the land; so that when he comes to it at last, it smells like another world, more strangely than the moon would to an Earthsman.

And while the plot in Moby-Dick may be driven by Ahab's anger, Ishmael's desire to get a hold of the "ungraspable" accounts for the novel's lyricism. However, only New York's literary underground showed interest, just enough to keep Melville's name circulating for the next 25 years in the capital of American publishing. Ahab, with one nostril, smells the musk from the Bashee isles, and with the other, the salt of the waters where Moby Dick swims.In addition to this, in Howard's view, the self-references of Ishmael as a "tragic dramatist", and his defense of his choice of a hero who lacked "all outward majestical trappings" is evidence that Melville "consciously thought of his protagonist as a tragic hero of the sort found in Hamlet and King Lear". The chief mate is 30-year-old Starbuck, a Nantucket Quaker with a realist mentality, whose harpooneer is Queequeg; second mate is Stubb, from Cape Cod, happy-go-lucky and cheerful, whose harpooneer is Tashtego, a proud, pure-blooded Indian from Gay Head; and the third mate is Flask, also from Martha's Vineyard, short, stout, whose harpooneer is Daggoo, a tall African, now a resident of Nantucket.

Other characteristic stylistic elements are the echoes and overtones, both imitation of distinct styles and habitual use of sources to shape his own work. One was the sinking of the Nantucket ship Essex in 1820, after a sperm whale rammed her 2,000 miles (3,200 km) from the western coast of South America.The elaborate use of the Homeric simile may not have been learned from Homer himself, yet Matthiessen finds the writing "more consistently alive" on the Homeric than on the Shakespearean level, especially during the final chase the "controlled accumulation" of such similes emphasizes Ahab's hubris through a succession of land-images, for instance: "The ship tore on; leaving such a furrow in the sea as when a cannon-ball, missent, becomes a ploughshare and turns up the level field" ("The Chase – Second Day", Ch. Melville found the bulk of his data on whales and whaling in five books, the most important of which was by the English ship's surgeon Thomas Beale, Natural History of the Sperm Whale (1839), a book of reputed authority which Melville bought on July 10, 1850. This scene, Ellison biographer Arnold Rampersad observes, "reprises a moment in the second chapter of Moby-Dick", where Ishmael wanders around New Bedford looking for a place to spend the night, and momentarily joins a congregation: "It was a negro church; and the preacher's text was about the blackness of darkness, and the weeping and wailing and teeth-gnashing there.

I believe there was already a tree whose fruit our unhappy parents tasted, though in the same chapter, when God forbids it, 'tis positivley said, the plants of the field were not yet growne. The reviewer of the Literary Gazette asked how Ishmael, "who appears to have been drowned with the rest, communicated his notes to Mr. Among the handful of other favorable reviews was one in the Albion on November 22 which saw the book as a blend of truth and satire.

Scholars John Bryant and Haskell Springer cite the development of the character Ishmael as another factor which prolonged Melville's process of composition and which can be deduced from the structure of the final version of the book. A significant structural device is the series of nine meetings (gams) between the Pequod and other ships. Ishmael similarly embraces paradox when he proclaims "Doubts of all things earthly, and intuitions of some things heavenly; this combination makes neither believer nor infidel, but makes a man who regards them both with equal eye. The point is not that Ahab would discover the whale as an object, but that he would perceive it as a symbol of his making.

Reading Shakespeare, Matthiessen observes, was "a catalytic agent", one that transformed his writing "from limited reporting to the expression of profound natural forces".

About 1,500 copies were sold within 11 days, and then sales slowed down to less than 300 the next year. In the October 1851 issue of Harper's New Monthly Magazine "The Town Ho's Story" was published, with a footnote reading: "From 'The Whale'. A baby whale is stuck under Tower Bridge and a giant ship is coming up the river that will squash him. When Allan's letter arrived, no sooner than early October, Bentley had already announced The Whale in both the Athenaem and the Spectator of October 4 and 11. Set over a metrical pattern, the rhythms are "evenly controlled—too evenly perhaps for prose", Bezanson suggests.



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