Goodbye Mr. Melville

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

I can’t do it.

I have failed. Moby Dick continues to elude me. This time around though, my journey through the oceans of flowery, superfluous writing of Mr. Melville took me further than ever before. According to my beloved Hrothgar, King of the eReaders, I made it just over a third of the way through the book. While discussing the problems and frustration I was having with my buddy Alicia, I realized I’m a lot like the infamous Captain Ahab. For me, reading Moby Dick is my quest – my own elusive “white whale” if you will.

The story itself was interesting – one man’s unrelenting quest to destroy that which has eluded and haunted him since their first encounter. The problem was the lengthy chapters of contemplation and rambling narrative that made up the bulk of the 170-ish pages I made it through. Seriously. A giant chapter on the narrator’s idea of how whales should be classified. An equally long chapter about the colour white and why, although associated with the regal and the pure, it is also both horrifying and deadly. Or at least that’s what I managed to pull from the pages. Chances are, I completely missed what that chapter was about…

There were a number of wonderful lines within the pages of Moby Dick; entire paragraphs that spoke volumes with their descriptions of even the most mundane of situations and items. Weeding out those paragraphs though was torture for me. The further I voyaged in my quest to finally finish this book, the deeper I found myself sinking into the overwhelming murky blackness of deciphering its words. Continuously finding myself at a loss regarding what on earth Ishmael was rambling about, I probably re-read half the pages because I just could not follow.

This is a book that I’m both grateful for not having to attempt reading in high school or university (I think it may have been the death of reading for me) and, at the same time, would have loved to have others reading it at the same time as me so I could discuss it and have someone explain certain passages to me.

I will not attempt Moby Dick again; at least not for a very very long time. I, for one, admit that I have been bested by this book and am not ashamed. I gave it a very good go this time around. We all must realize our limitations – Moby Dick is mine (and War and Peace). Kudos to anyone who’s made it through.


Eugene Knapik said...

I feel better now, knowing I'm not the only one who has failed to complete this one. (I'm OK with Dostoevsky, though).

Karen said...

I LOVED Crime and Punishment (the ending was a bit weak). Just can't do Melville though... sigh.

Annet said...

Anna Kareninininina was mine - I finally did finish it one time but constantly thinking there must be something about to happen... and it never did. I actually felt bad I wasted so much time struggling through it and just could never appreciate it the ways others do. So I totally get it (and will now not be in a hurry to pick up Moby Dick, since I feel the same as you about wasted lineage).

I'm all for anti-book reviews :)

Eugene Knapik said...

The first time I read Conrad's Lord Jim I struggled with it, but later I read it 3 or 4 times and loved it. Me and Herman are done though.

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