As seen in my first Literary Sins post, I’m on this journey to read classic books that are great works of literature. I started this endeavor because a) I like to read, and b) I did not want to miss out on these classic stories.
Mistakes were made.
Why did no one tell me that Moby-Dick was a complete and utter bore?!
I chose to rectify the supposed literary sin of never having read Moby-Dick months ago. I had read some of Herman Melville’s short stories as part of an English course I took in college, but I had never tackled his “greatest” tale about a man’s vendetta against a white whale.
I had heard of Moby-Dick before, though. I mean, who hasn’t? Its first line is famous, and parodies of the demented Captain Ahab are a dime a dozen.
With those parodies ingrained in my mind, I thought Moby-Dick was going to be an adventure. You know, something along the lines of Treasure Island.
I thought it was going to be fun.
What the hell, guys?! I was under the assumption that I was in for a seafaring treat, and instead I got this hefty compendium of whale facts.
Seriously, story is just lightly sprinkled over these massive portions of whale tidbits. 10% of the book’s lengthy page count is devoted to progressing and resolving the plot. The other 90% provides details about whale fins, whale bones, whale eyes, whale teeth, whale baleen, whale flukes, whale blubber, whale migration patterns, whales throughout history, whale myths, the whaling industry, the different kinds of whales, whale behavior, whale hunts, whale boats,WHALE EVERYTHING.
I love whales as much as the next person, but come on.
I’m usually not one to mind descriptive detail in my books. Ask anyone who knows about my reading and writing style. I don’t mind getting into paragraphs devoted to describing a single thing.
But there is a limit to how much I can take.
And Herman Melville reached it.
Apparently, Melville’s love of whale trivia is known throughout literary circles. My boyfriend even showed me a meme he found about it after I complained to him about all the whale facts. It’s that one where a boyfriend and girlfriend are walking past a hot girl, so the boyfriend is doing a speculative double-take while the girlfriend glares at him. In place of the hot girl’s face, the words “Whale Facts” covers her features. “Herman Melville” is the boyfriend. “The Actual Plot of Moby-Dick” is the girlfriend.
It’s just a shame that I only found out about this running joke after I had already gotten halfway through Moby-Dick.
Do not, under any circumstances, fall for the trap that is Moby-Dick.
I give Moby-Dick an only-read-this-if-you-are-prepared-to-read-a-lot-of-whale-facts-and-you-want-to-spend-hours-soaking-that-information-up-by-reading-a-novel-instead-of-just-Googling-that-shit-oh-and-it’s-all-written-in-old-timey-language-so-good-luck.