Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Well, we have a Moby-Dick winner!

My fellow Harmonian, Scott, has finished the novel, and this is what he has to say about it:

The book reminds me of my great-uncle and aunt's house. It was built in stages, so you are forced to take twisty passages to get from one end of the house to the other. Some rooms open (illogically) onto other rooms. I always wondered about the third set of stairs; they were walled off, and so led nowhere. Still, there are treasures: the view across the river, the rooms full of "stuff" (probably including a copy of Moby-Dick), a great place to rummage on a rainy day.

Like Moby-Dick, the first few rooms/chapters are bright and fun, but confusion sets in once you leave them.

Coincidentally, I received an email update about a new book of Barry Moser portraits, and who should be featured in the advertisement but Herman Melville, looking, as the Wall Street Journal remarks, "put-upon."

Sometimes when I read Moby-Dick, I also feel put-upon, so that makes two of us.

I do not, however, feel put-upon when I read Jane Austen's Persuasion. What a great book. It's like a frothy, sugary, creamy dessert that's actually wholesome and nutritious and moreover improves my IQ.


Maureen said...

Moser is a wonderful artist. I've been thinking about getting "100 Portraits".

Thomas said...

Well, I have made no progress in Moby Dick myself, but my six year old son's adventures with the book continue apace. We did go out to buy him his own copy and settled on an abridged version illustrated handsomely by Patrick Benson. In Benson's forward, he mentions having seen and been inspired by the John Huston film version when he was six. We read this just after Eli had watched the film himself (he has since said that it is his favorite film). And now, Dawn, in a twist to win over your copying heart, he has begun typing out Moby Dick painstaking letter by letter. He's nearly through the first paragraph, and we've had some interesting conversations about punctuation along the way (speaking of which, what about those Melvillean semi-colons? Wow!). This evening we spent a bit of time on the title page (no hyphen, by the way, and, in a touch that would make Harold Bloom beam, the large attribution: "by Eli Juvan." I'm postponing the discussion about copyright and intellectual property for the moment.


Dawn Potter said...

This is so wonderful about your son! My younger son, Paul, at just about the same age as Eli, had some parallel attachments with what I can only call the romance of hard books. I found this both fascinating and strangely heartbreaking; to this day I'm not sure why. Perhaps it was the seriousness of the endeavor, which sometimes seemed almost too hard to watch.