I'm an English major, so basically when I'm not reading or blogging about YA or staring at Twitter or watching Youtube videos of miniature animals, I pay to go to classes where we sit in circles and Discuss Literature. It is very fun. (You ought to understand this because I complain and make fun of English majors, but I don't mean it. Usually.) The downfall of being an English major is that your professors are forever inundating you with titles and authors that YOU SIMPLY MUST READ RIGHT NOW. Or you fail at being an English major. And college. And life. And the list keeps growing and growing and growing and unless you accept that you will never have time to read everything in the entire world, you will become depressed. But...one book that is consistently brought up by my professors is Moby-Dick. Every. Time. I. Turn. Around.
It's like, "Oh yeah, Moby-Dick? Worst book of my undergrad experience. You should totally read it!"
Or, "I read that in grad school. It's really quite interesting because of it's importance to the context of blah blah blah blah."
Or, "You're not going to like it. No one likes Moby-Dick. But I read it, so you have to read it."
Basically, it is a Rite of Passage.
This puzzled me. I mean, besides the question of why Moby-Dick in general, out of all the books ever written, why Moby-Dick out of all of the books Herman Melville wrote? So I asked my friend and fellow English major (whose code name for this blog will be Honeybadger, or HB) this very question. HB, in addition to being very smart and well-read, also frequently feeds me gummy bears, so I tend to hang out with her quite a bit.
"HB," I began one day while she forced me to watch Swamp People with her. "Why do we have to read Moby-Dick?"
"I don't know," was the unsatisfactory reply.
"I mean, no one liked it when Melville wrote it."
HB ate a gummy bear.
"Like, all anyone ever wanted to read of his stuff was the true adventure stories and then he wrote Moby-Dick and it was this huge flop."
"I don't have any answers for you."
"So then, what? Some dude just rediscovers it and then D.H. Lawrence and like, Ezra Pound, were all over it. I am not a fan of Pound."
"You've thought about this way too much. Have another gummy bear."
|My copy looks like this. It has 589 pages.|
"It has short chapters," I offered.
HB flipped to the table of contents. "But there are 135 of them. And most of them are really boring." She pointed at several. "Those will all be about whale fat. And nothing else."
I tried not to be disgusted. "Maybe it won't be so bad."
"There are 135 chapters," she reminded me.
"We're going to need more gummy bears."
So, that is a very roundabout way of telling you that I am reading Moby-Dick this summer with HB. I'm not sure how seriously I can take a book called Moby-Dick (I snicker like a thirteen-year-old boy when I think about the title) about whale fat, but HB and I are going to read it for the sake of literature and our education and I don't know what else. And you, dear blog readers, are going to hear about it. Every Wednesday from now until we finish the damn thing you will get a super special Classics Corner Moby-Dick update!
Maybe along the way HB and I can figure out why everyone should read Moby-Dick. Or at least have fun trying.