Assignment 7 and 8.doc - Assignments 7 and 8 Barriers...

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Assignments 7 and 8: Barriers, Discovery, and Selection in Moby Dick . Assignment 7: Due 5/6 Assignment 8: Due 5/13 Ok. I assigned Moby Dick for last assignment. I read it once a year, in Maine, and enjoy it. I wrote part of this assignment pretending to be Ishmael, and shared it with a friend, who thought I was being juvenile. And yet, I don’t care, and I wish to encourage a playful approach to the book. Why Moby Dick ? Because it is one of a handful of mysterious literary works about which, I believe, there can be no final word. Oh, sure, there are articles and books that purport to a kind of authority over Melville’s madcap melee of maritime man-killing meditations on monomania and male-bonding (steady there, men, slow, row till your backs break and your lungs burst), but I, for one, remain unmoved. I’m a rather bearded critic of Melville’s crew, a rowdy sort of reader who would rather sit back, smoke a pipe, and take a drink (especially one paid for by friends) and read without thinking, away from land, my eyes fixed on the far horizon in a gale, all attention fixed on nothing but the spout of the White Whale. There. I’ve said it. This is a great novel (perhaps the great novel, but I’m old-fashioned). Herman Melville had been a sailor, written popular books, and was doing quite well, thank you very much. And then he started Moby Dick , and it was downhill, after a fashion, like a whale boat riding leeward to doom in the jaws of a fearsome Spermacetti. Not until the 1920s and beyond did Melville see a revival of sorts, and folks started to see what was what and the reputation of this wicked book begin to rise. If you’re interested, the most famous and encompassing of these essays is Call me Ishmael , by Charles Olson (1947).
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