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Never read Moby Dick before, but based on what I know of the plot, I wonder if the quotes at the beginning are an amplificiation of what comes after, or if what comes after is an amplification of the quotes. Sure, the rest has charming facetious Ishmael, and his dear friend Queequeg and Ahab. Characters just help form the pattern, they're much-elaborated ideas walking around. Perhaps it will turn out that in the quotes, and between the lines of the quotes, and in the sum of the quotes which is great than its parts, is the same meaning as in the novel?

I am particularly interested in the image, found in the extracts only so far, of the whale as an animal so large that it is practically a place.

I like Ishmael's theology. I don't expect to like the theology of characters, esp not 19th century characters. The book is in conversation with the Bible, and it's not a conversation I've heard before. For one thing, it's not simply allusion, but is the Bible recycled, reused, co-opted. I also like how the black/white dichotomy is getting complicated. Ahab is dark, and I know that Moby Dick is white. So where should our sympathies lie, which hunter/hunted?

Oh, and interesting that the etymology and the extracts are attributed to a now-dead-of-consumption grammar school teacher, and a sub-sub-librarian. Both educated, apparently with active minds, but utterly obscure and unimportant. Is the presentation of the book made humbler, doesn't it make it seem like an obscure manuscript?

About Ishmael's name: this character has an unpleasant step-mother. Sort of like the Biblical Ishmael, driven from his home by Abraham's wife, Sarah.

To what extent is Ishmael like and not like Jonah? To what extent is Ishmael fleeing. True, he is not paying to flee.

I'm surprised at the tone of the section narrated by Ishmael: light, easily amused, thoughtful but not very serious, despite the events he's looking back on. Not what I expected at all. Doesn't even feel like a 19th century novel.


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