How to Read Moby-Dick


The Stake

mobydickwoodcut

by Bethany Taylor

While out walking my dog very early one morning I ran into a frantic woman, beseeching directions to Starbucks.

My reflexive internal response was, “I’m sorry to tell you this, ma’am, but he went down aboard the Pequod,” but I kept the joke to myself, stifled my giggles, and directed the woman towards the coffee shop.

For the most part, everything I’ve ever read about Moby-Dick has been either beautiful and solemn like a dull sermon, or dismissive of it as a baggy boring relic of bygone days. The book invites comparisons to the whale itself: the sheer size and density, a brick of over 600 page, as though its treasures must be gleaned from crosshatched ink scars carved in white slabbed pages.

For many, it is A Book To Be Read, almost a Jonahian duty that cannot be shirked lest the gods be angered, an…

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