Herman Melville's Moby Dick is perhaps the greatest of all American novels. The story of Captain Ahab's obsession with destroying the white whale that crippled him in a previous encounter, Moby Dick transcends its subject by exploring the bigger Herman Melville's Moby Dick is perhaps the greatest of all American novels. The story of Captain Ahab's obsession with destroying the white whale that crippled him in a previous encounter, Moby Dick transcends its subject by exploring the bigger picture of man and his precarious and often contradictory relationship with the universe he inhabits, a universe of the greatest good and the most profound evil. It is a timeless epic parable that is by turns amusing and unsettling, but always fascinating. The vocal performances of a solid cast add to the listening excitement: Charlton Heston is Ahab'tyrannical, God-ridden, and consumed with his quest; Keir Dullea is the laconic and mysterious narrator, Ishmael, and George Rose delivers Father Mapple's tremendous call to the whaling men. ...Continua Nascondi
DNF at page 107/580Believe me when I say that I tried going on, but it was just... impossible for me.Descriptions that lasted at least one entire page when you are lucky (and you know what? I'm almost NEVER lucky), stories into the storyDNF at page 107/580
Believe me when I say that I tried going on, but it was just... impossible for me. Descriptions that lasted at least one entire page when you are lucky (and you know what? I'm almost NEVER lucky), stories into the story everywhere... nope, for my action-and-fantasy-lover heart was just too much.
It's a shame since I was looking forward a book about ships... but I fear I'll have to go for another genre. ...Continua Nascondi
Non ho messo in dubbio la tua libertà di pensiero, bensì la qualità del giudizio che, ahimè, sottende un gusto estetico piuttosto dozzinale. Il fatto che ti abbia annoiata esula totalmente dal criterio che si dovrebbe utilizzare per valutarne la bontà. La narrativa, quando è di un certo spessore, non diventa più un mero esercizio di distrazione, quindi il tuo "action-and-fantasy-lover heart" dovrebbe starne alla larga.
Una delle storie più celebri, se non fondanti, di tutta la letteratura consta di una sessantina di pagine, anche se il libro che la contiene supera le seicento. È un’esagerazione, certo, ma utile per dire che Moby-Dick non è affatto il libro diUna delle storie più celebri, se non fondanti, di tutta la letteratura consta di una sessantina di pagine, anche se il libro che la contiene supera le seicento. È un’esagerazione, certo, ma utile per dire che Moby-Dick non è affatto il libro di avventure che chi ancora deve leggerlo può erroneamente aspettarsi. La traduzione di Ottavio Fatica, in questa recente edizione Einaudi, è stata la ragione che mi ha spinto a rileggere quest’opera a distanza di circa dieci anni dalla prima lettura, nella versione di Cesare Pavese. Ricordavo un libro completamente diverso. Forse migliore. I primi capitoli del libro sono spassosissimi. L’incontro tra Ishmael e il cannibale ramponiere Queequeg è pieno di tenerezza e comicità, ed è proprio quest’ultima vena che avevo completamente trascurato nella prima lettura. Sì, perché la paura di relazionarsi con ciò che è diverso genera davvero effetti esilaranti, l’impaccio e la goffaggine di Ishmael a riguardo non possono che farci sorridere e trovo che l’evoluzione di questa iniziale diffidenza in una solidale amicizia costituisca alcune della pagine più durature di Moby-Dick. Anche la statura di personaggio di Ahab è cresciuta col tempo. Le ferite nell’animo e la mutilazione fisica che la leggendaria balena bianca gli ha inferto sono pagine terribili e sofferte, una delle poche occasioni in cui si può parlare di discesa negli abissi non a sproposito. Ahab è davvero un personaggio spaventoso e l’accostamento che Borges ne fece con l’Ulisse dantesco in un famoso saggio è forse una delle più lucide interpretazioni che ne siano state date: in entrambi i casi lo scrittore argentino vedeva i semi di un “oscuro e complicato suicidio”. In uno degli ultimi capitoli del Moby-Dick si legge che per scrivere un grande libro c’è bisogno di un grande tema. La complessità di quest’opera, credo, risiede tutta qui. La mole gigantesca della Balena Bianca dovette sembrare a Melville l’incarnazione più prossima dell’intero Universo. Non per niente i riferimenti principali della sua ispirazione sono la Bibbia e Shakespeare. La vastità degli oceani è spesso assimilata alla smisuratezza di una prateria, il viaggio del Pequod, così si chiama la nave baleniera, è una risalita verso le origini dell’uomo, certo, ma racchiude anche il senso del divenire insito nell’avventura umana: la formazione di una nazione, il superamento di una frontiera, le trasformazioni inferte alla natura e il perdente conflitto con essa. Di qui le numerose digressioni e i molteplici linguaggi di cui è denso il libro. Classificazioni enciclopediche, inserti teatrali, manualistiche descrizioni delle tecniche di caccia alla balena, mitologie e simboli: con oltre mezzo secolo di anticipo Melville aveva intuito molte delle cose che Joyce realizzerà nell’”Ulisse”. Proprio in virtù di questa complessità la traduzione di Ottavio Fatica non è forse la più efficace. Le scelte lessicali di Melville sono spesso zeppe di tecnicismi nautici, di iperboli, ma questa traduzione appesantisce ulteriormente la lettura con numerosi toscanismi, termini chiaramente desueti e arcaici, virtuosismi eccessivi. Tanto per fare un esempio, il capitolo 87, “La Grande Armada”, contiene forse una delle scene più grandiose e commoventi che la letteratura abbia prodotto: il Pequod sta inseguendo in mare aperto un gruppo di balene, alle spalle un branco di squali cerca di approfittare e fare scempio delle prede ferite, nel frattempo alcune balene, insistendo nella fuga, seguitano ad allattare i piccoli annidati sotto il loro ventre. Una lettura che dovrebbe essere appassionate è disturbata dalla predominanza del lessico raro, da strutture sintattiche al limite dell’involuzione, da un vocabolario ottocentesco. Tutto questo ha fatto sì che abbia terminato la lettura del libro più per una curiosità intellettuale che per una spinta del cuore. ...Continua Nascondi
Hehehe... A prescindere dalla facile ironia (non amiamo qualcuno o qualcosa anche per i suoi difetti?) Moby Dick senza il capitolo 32 e tutti gli altri non sarebbe Moby Dick, e a me non piacciono le versioni light. No, aspetta, anche quella era ironia facile...
It's been sixteen years since I first read Moby Dick and in the meantime I've gone back and forth reading it at least half a dozen times, in various translations and in the original.It always fascinated me, I was never quite sure why.Yes, it is aIt's been sixteen years since I first read Moby Dick and in the meantime I've gone back and forth reading it at least half a dozen times, in various translations and in the original.
It always fascinated me, I was never quite sure why.
Yes, it is a pretty damn good story. Yes, it is written brilliantly. Yes, it is a masterpiece.
But then again..., it wasn't just that, there was something more and different; after all there's plenty of pretty damn good stories written brilliantly adding up to masterpieces that I've read and never spent a second thought about.
Very well then, it must be the allegory, the OCD level of commitment Ahab shows in chasing the whale must be a clear reference to the struggle of mankind to find a meaning, to find a purpose, but then again you might argue, and with some reason, that the whole four-hundred-and-odd pages can be recapitulated in the few final verses of Dante's Comedy, XXVI Canto, ending with: "Until the sea above us closed again"
[infin che ’l mar fu sovra noi richiuso]
But that's just unfair, if you really think about it, although the connection with Dante is real and is all but a coincidence.
I don't think that's just the literary relevance either, I rank this in terms of mere quality on the page at least in the top 100 works I've read, but not in the top 10.
And then one day, something reminded me of Matthew 6.19: "Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also."
something that immediately triggered this passage in my mind:
"‘Well, Captain Bildad,’ interrupted Peleg, ‘what d’ye say, what lay shall we give this young man?’
‘Thou knowest best,’ was the sepulchral reply, ‘the seven hundred and seventy-seventh wouldn’t be too much, would it?— ’where moth and rust do corrupt, but LAY—’
LAY, indeed, thought I, and such a lay! the seven hundred and seventy-seventh! Well, old Bildad, you are determined that I, for one, shall not LAY up many LAYS here below, where moth and rust do corrupt. It was an exceedingly LONG LAY that, indeed"
And then it came to me, it's at the same time the archetypal, the ultimate and the definitive American novel, it's the translation into literature of what makes the American Society tick, the stark contrast between high principles and bare pragmatism.
The Pequod is made of a crew of people from all over the world with any color and religion you can think of, it is run as a tight ship by tough but fair and loyal officers and by a capable but arguably insane captain, and finally is owned by bigots who think you should lay your wealth not on earth, where moth and rust do corrupt...., but nevertheless won't shy from screwing their neighbor over to make the extra buck.
You can easily take this out of the metaphor yourself.
Social commentary it is and quite a good one, so good that most, if not all, of it is pretty still relevant to these days.
EXTRACTS (Supplied by a Sub-Sub-Librarian)It will be seen that this mere painstaking burrower and grub-worm of a poor devil of a Sub-Sub appears to have gone through the long Vaticans and street-stalls of the earth, picking up whatever randomEXTRACTS (Supplied by a Sub-Sub-Librarian)
It will be seen that this mere painstaking burrower and grub-worm of a poor devil of a Sub-Sub appears to have gone through the long Vaticans and street-stalls of the earth, picking up whatever random allusions to whales he could anyways find in any book whatsoever, sacred or profane. therefore you must not, in every case at least, take the higgledy-piggledy whale statements, however authentic, in these extracts, for veritable gospel cetology. Far from it. As touching the ancient authors generally, as well as the poets here appearing, these extracts are solely valuable or entertaining, as affording a glancing bird's eye view of what has been promiscuously said, thought, fancied, and sung of Leviathan, by many nations and generations, including our own. So fare thee well, poor devil of a Sub-Sub, whose commentator I am. Thou belongest to that hopeless, sallow tribe which no wine of this world will ever warm; and for whom even Pale Sherry would be too rosy-strong; but with whom one sometimes loves to sit, and feel poor-devilish, too; and grow convivial upon tears; and say to them bluntly, with full eyes and empty glasses, and in not altogether unpleasant sadness—Give it up, Sub-Subs! For by how much more pains ye take to please the world, by so much the more shall ye for ever go thankless! Would that I could clear out Hampton Court and the Tuileries for ye! But gulp down your tears and hie aloft to the royal-mast with your hearts; for your friends who have gone before are clearing out the seven-storied heavens, and making refugees of long pampered Gabriel, Michael, and Raphael, against your coming. Here ye strike but splintered hearts together—there, ye shall strike unsplinterable glasses!...Continua Nascondi
But wherefore it was that after having repeatedly smelt the sea as a merchant sailor, I should now take it into my head to go on a whaling voyage; this the invisible police officer of the Fates, who has the constant surveillance of me, and secretlyBut wherefore it was that after having repeatedly smelt the sea as a merchant sailor, I should now take it into my head to go on a whaling voyage; this the invisible police officer of the Fates, who has the constant surveillance of me, and secretly dogs me, and influences me in some unaccountable way—he can better answer than any one else. And, doubtless, my going on this whaling voyage, formed part of the grand programme of Providence that was drawn up a long time ago. It came in as a sort of brief interlude and solo between more extensive performances. I take it that this part of the bill must have run something like this:
“Grand Contested Election for the Presidency of the United States. “WHALING VOYAGE BY ONE ISHMAEL. “BLOODY BATTLE IN AFFGHANISTAN.”...Continua Nascondi
Now, when I say that I am in the habit of going to sea whenever I begin to grow hazy about the eyes, and begin to be over conscious of my lungs, I do not mean to have it inferred that I ever go to sea as a passenger. For to go as a passenger youNow, when I say that I am in the habit of going to sea whenever I begin to grow hazy about the eyes, and begin to be over conscious of my lungs, I do not mean to have it inferred that I ever go to sea as a passenger. For to go as a passenger you must needs have a purse, and a purse is but a rag unless you have something in it. Besides, passengers get sea-sick—grow quarrelsome—don't sleep of nights—do not enjoy themselves much, as a general thing—no, I never go as a passenger; nor, though I am something of a salt, do I ever go to sea as a Commodore, or a Captain, or a Cook. I abandon the glory and distinction of such offices to those who like them. For my part, I abominate all honorable respectable toils, trials, and tribulations of every kind whatsoever. It is quite as much as I can do to take care of myself, without taking care of ships, barques, brigs, schooners, and what not. And as for going as cook,—though I confess there is considerable glory in that, a cook being a sort of officer on ship-board—yet, somehow, I never fancied broiling fowls—though once broiled, judiciously buttered, and judgmatically salted and peppered, there is no one who will speak more respectfully, not to say reverentially, of a broiled fowl than I will. It is out of the idolatrous dotings of the old Egyptians upon broiled ibis and roasted river horse, that you see the mummies of those creatures in their huge bake-houses the pyramids....Continua Nascondi
Call me Ishmael. Some years ago—never mind how long precisely—having little or no money in my purse, and nothing particular to interest me on shore, I thought I would sail about a little and see the watery part of the world. It is a way I haveCall me Ishmael. Some years ago—never mind how long precisely—having little or no money in my purse, and nothing particular to interest me on shore, I thought I would sail about a little and see the watery part of the world. It is a way I have of driving off the spleen and regulating the circulation. Whenever I find myself growing grim about the mouth; whenever it is a damp, drizzly November in my soul; whenever I find myself involuntarily pausing before coffin warehouses, and bringing up the rear of every funeral I meet; and especially whenever my hypos get such an upper hand of me, that it requires a strong moral principle to prevent me from deliberately stepping into the street, and methodically knocking people's hats off—then, I account it high time to get to sea as soon as I can. This is my substitute for pistol and ball. With a philosophical flourish Cato throws himself upon his sword; I quietly take to the ship. There is nothing surprising in this. If they but knew it, almost all men in their degree, some time or other, cherish very nearly the same feelings towards the ocean with me....Continua Nascondi