Moby Dick“The spouting canal of the Sperm Whale, chiefly intended as it is for the conveyance of air, and for several feet laid along, horizontally, just beneath the upper surface of his head, and a little to one side; this curious canal is very much like a gas pipe laid down in a city on one side of a street. But the question returns whether this gas-pipe is also a water-pipe; in other words, whether the spout of the Sperm Whale is the mere vapor of exhaled breath, or whether that exhaled breath is mixed with water taken in at the mouth, and discharged through the spiracle. It is certain that the mouth indirectly communicates with the spouting canal; but it cannot be proved that this is for the purpose of discharging water through the spiracle.”

If you’ve never read Moby Dick, let me assure you that the above is a fair indication of just how dull it is. Dull, dull, dull. 536 pages of dull.

Nominally it is about a chap (“Call me Ishmael”) who goes on a whaling voyage with his pal Queequeg, a tattoed-cannibal-savage type about whom we hear very little given that he is supposed to be bosom buddy to the author. Perhaps this is because poor stupid savage Queequeg can’t actually speak without saying “lookee, him biggum dam Whalo” or something equally ridiculous. The voyage on which they set out is aboard the Pequod which, as we discover, is captained by one Ahab who lost his leg to the Great White Whale, Moby Dick and is now monomaniacally (oh, how often we see that word) obsessed with his pursuit of and revenge upon said terrible beast.

However, you spend far less time reading any actual story than you do hearing the author’s great and interminable mumblings about whales. You get pretty much the sum of mid-nineteenth century whale lore, complete with conjectures that appear to be entirely the author’s own. It’s a hoot. No, really.

There’s also a lot about how noble it is to be a man. Yawn.

Here’s an Amazon link, if I haven’t put you off yet.
Got mine from the library.