I am currently proof-reading “Moby Dick” by Herman Melville, famous American novelist of the 19th century inclined toward dark romanticism.

So far, I only read the abbreviated version for children, and boy, did they leave out some things. How about the gory spectacle of a brutal whale hunt, slaughtering sharks and also a latent homosexuality in the whole Queequeg/Ishmael cluster? Also, lengthy observations about anatomy and countless allusions to dead poets. Now this does not especially go out to Mr Melville, it is a good novel and you ought to read it sometime, but here is what I don’t get about neoclassicism. And about every other author who is eager to prove that he/she, but mostly he, has read other books? That’s good for him, but as soon as the intertextuality becomes that obvious and obstructs the reading “flow”, it becomes a little annoying. It’s sort of a patchwork novel, but I can see how contemporaries would not give it its due credit.

Example:

Perseus, St. George, Hercules, Jonah, and Vishnu! there’s a member-roll for you! What club but the whaleman’s can head off like that? (p.249, edition not published yet)

Funny thing about whales: they are about to become extinct. And though their numbers were already diminished in the times of Mr Melville, here is what he thought was going to happen.

Wherefore, for all these things, we account the whale immortal in his species, however perishable in his individuality. He swam the seas before the continents broke water; he once swam over the site of the Tuileries, and Windsor Castle, and the Kremlin. In Noah’s flood he despised Noah’s Ark; and if ever the world is to be again flooded, like the Netherlands, to kill off its rats, then the eternal whale will still survive, and rearing upon the topmost crest of the equatorial flood, spout his frothed defiance to the skies.

*sigh* I guess he was a romantic, after all.

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