Moby-Dick and Literature
"How many hundreds of other young men, for example, served on whalers, without writing a word about it, or perhaps even being able to do so? There is nothing probable, really, about Melville turning his whaling years into literature..."
"I stood for a long time on those ropes, facing the sky. The fifteen percent of myself that still remained of the little girl reading Moby-Dick in the armchair was the girl who, even though none were expected that day, looked out to the water for whales."
"But because I’ve trod
the Morgan’s deck, watched her 19 sails unfurl, explored her blubber room, because
I know her live oak keel steadies her, she becomes precise in word and paint. With the barbaric Pequod, Ryder’s moonlit vessels, Turner’s whale ships, spewing gore into a blood red dawn, the Morgan now looms and moves across the canvas
of my mind, sails billowing."
Holding a copy of Moby-Dick high, Stubb the second mate urges his rowers forward, in fierce pursuit of their prey. His shipmates, facing him in pairs along a conference table in Building 2, strain at their oars. The whale, a senior in biological engineering, breaches and dives in the vast watery space between table and blackboards...
"Though the Clerk of the Weather insist, /
And lay down the weather-law, /
Pintado and gannet they wist /
That the winds blow whither they list /
In tempest or flaw."
"How would we, the voyagers, find quiet moments for reflection on this remarkable voyage? How would we behave among strangers?"
"Melville could laud the inhuman sea because he had experienced the participatory culture of sailor communities aboard ships like the Charles W. Morgan."
"The radiant faces of my friends as this iconic vessel tied up at the wharf in New Bedford evoked pure joy, a deep and transcendent emotion, possibly akin to the realization of one’s best beloved returning home after a long and uncertain absence or a physical reaction to the unexpected fulfillment of a long-suspected desire."