Saturday, March 31, 2012

Book review - Moby Dick (Herman Melville)

It's time for a book review on the revered whaling classic, Moby Dick, by Herman Melville! But before I begin the review, there's some time for me to rant a little about what's been happening these days.

If you haven't yet read the essay I posted up in Essay of the Day, kindly do so now, that is, if its no bother, of course. It would certainly shed some light on my current situation if you read it and understand what it would imply to me. Ordinarily, considering the nature of the essay and its contents, I would happily redirect you away from my shameful piece of writing, but earlier to day my mother made fun of me for my essay as well. As you can imagine, its very different from being made fun of by a friend, so now I feel like I've gone through everything already and have nothing to lose.

Technically, all my mother saud was "I read your essay." Then she said, "You don't have to bring a girl home until you're sure you like her." Technically, that doesn't really count as being made fun of, suspect she derived some satisfaction from saying it whereas I personally did not and felt that she gained something at my expense, therefore I count it as being made fun of.

Well, what can I say? Oh, how we writers suffer! I don't know how things worked for writers in the old days, but it evidently wasn't the same as today, what with the feudal law system and all, and I imagine that creative writers back in the day were persecuted considerably for their ideas. Mary Wollstonecraft Shelly probably got some grit from people for creating Frankenstein, and Miguel Cervantes probably received some being made fun of due to don Quixote. Evidently, writers have to be occasionally persecuted for their works. And once you've been persecuted by your dear old mum, you won't mind being persecuted by anyone.

I mean, what's the big deal? Its not like Lily is an actual person or anything. I'm sure I emphasised on that sufficiently in the preface. I've gone through so much a person who does not even exist. If Lily really did, in some alternative possibility universe, exist, then she'd better be grateful.

Mark Twain's 'Adventures of Huckleberry Finn' was once a banned book on the charge of being racist, which is, for anyone who has actually read the book, somewhat ironic.

With that, on to the book review!


When most people hear - or as it were, read - the words "Book Review", they expect a review about a book with a title like "The Suspicious Happenstance of the Domestic Mammal in the Time of Night", or, "The Life of Pie", or, "Dawnlight". What they certainly don't expect, is a review about "The Count of Monte Cristo", or, "A Christmas Carol". The reason for this is because the former set of books would be what we call Modern Classics, which means a lot of people aren't sure what to make of them yet. On the other hand, the latter set of books are known as Classic Literature, meaning that after a few hundred years since they were written, they are still famous, therefore proving that they are really quite good, and don't need other people's opinions to confirm this.

Even so, a lot of people these days are more inclined towards the former set of books, rather than the latter, for some inscrutinable reason. I, on the other hand, have made it my task to read as many Classic Literature books, the books being as numerous as the sands in the sea, as are available to me. These days, I am able to discern why it is that Classic Literature seems to lack demand, as well as what this is causing.

Moby Dick is written just as any Classic Literature book should be; an untapped fountain of knowledge, waiting to be discovered - a beautiful work of literacy, filled with poetic language and the rest - a book which, in short, clearly displayed the intelect and thinking power of the writer. Such are the components of any book worthy of being deemed a work of Classic Literature.

As the protocol of book review entail, I shall recount a simplified summarisation of the bulk of the story. The writer, Ishmael, takes to the sea, as is his wont when life gets him down. However, this time he has decided to mix things up a little, and goes on a whaleboat, together with his newly acquired bosom friend and pagan harpooner, Queequeg. They find themselves on the Pequod, presided by Captain Ahab, who, it is later revealed, is hunting down Moby Dick, the great White Whale, in a revenge mission for retribution of his lost leg. Over the course of his whaling voyage, Ishmael learns a lot about whaling and whales in general, much knowledge of which is imparted in the book.

I can tell you a few things about this book, and it is this: It is a classic book. It is not the same as one of your Modern Classics. Moby Dick is the story of a broken man on a hopeless journey. It is not a book where good things happen to good people. It is not a book where bad guys get the comeuppance they 'rightfully' deserve. It is not, in short, a book where everyone lives happily ever after. Instead, it is a classic book, known to be full of intelligent insight from a different perspective. Reading classics does something to you.
However, be warned: I repeat that this is a classic book. It is not the kind of book that makes itself easy to read. It is not the kind of book that sticks to your hands, open at the climax of the story. It is not, in short, the kind of book that you would want sneak into the class and read under the desk while the teacher rambles on. Instead, it is a classic book. Reading it won't be easy - there will be long lapses during the story where the writers talks about the build of a whale's head, in concise detail - but I roundly suggest it, because no good ever came without hard work. Therefore, it is reasonable to assume that with hard work comes good.

The reason why Classic Literature is becoming less popular is because of the way Modern Classics are styled. Modern Classics do not have boring lapses in which the reader receives a lecture about the problem with today's kids, and so on and so forth. Modern Classics are styled to catch the reader's entertainment, and to amuse and entertain them, without bringing in so much educational material so as to cause them to lose interest. In fact, books these days are not written with books in mind, but rather, with a movie in mind, such that the reader sees the scene unfold in their imagination, as if for all the world they were not reading a book, but were glued to the big screen. This is proven by the way a lot of books these days are converted into movies - and, sadly, seem to bring about just the same kinds of benefits. Entertainment, and little else. It is sad. That is why we should not forget about Classic Literature.

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