Saturday, August 1, 2009
"I WOULD PREFER NOT TO..."
HERMAN MELVILLE b. AUG 1 1819
"All that most 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. He piled upon the whale’s white hump the sum of all the general rage and hate felt by his whole race from Adam down; and then, as if his chest had been a mortar, he burst his hot heart’s shell upon it."
philip was the melville guy back in p'cola. we're talking typee & omoo here, folks. that takes a lot more dedication than getting through proust's in search of lost time. i couldn't get through those early novels but there's no doubt about the greatness of the middle & late work.
i remember dona had graduated from uwf w/a lit degree & had somehow managed to never read moby dick. i won't go into what a travesty of literary education her uwf degree was but i will say she did read melville & was astonished by the book. she couldn't get through pierre & could never get into billy bud or bartleby but i felt she'd really started her education in literature the moment she finished moby dick.
"To produce a mighty book, you must choose a mighty theme. No great and enduring volume can ever be written on the flea, though many there be that have tried it."