Bookish update

Broadleaf Books, Abergavenny, Monmouthshire

Book-related update here, and thankfully it’s a short post.

I’m rattling on towards the end of Jane Eyre and will presently post some commentary and, soon after, a review. Unlike Charlotte Brontë’s later novel Shirley, which took me over a year to polish off, Jane’s story has proved to have more forward impetus. More later.

Meanwhile, though Moby-Dick was published (with the title The Whale) on 18th October 1851 in Britain, it first appeared under its now familiar guise a month later, on 14th November, in the States. I therefore officially retraced my steps from the very start yesterday after having stalled a couple of times a few years ago.

Call me tardy, but at least it was 168 years to the day after its American publication; and 2019 is of course the bicentenary of Herman Melville’s birth.

A fellow passenger on the voyage, Lizzie Ross, has already set off, so I will be following in her wake. I’m not sure how fast I’ll go or how often I’ll report on the journey; as there are around 135 chapters I hope it won’t take a third of a year to complete — maybe a rate of 20-25 chapters a week will see me navigate home before Christmas. Look out for entries from my ship’s log!

Have you read this classic? I know other bloggers have already embarked on this mammoth (should that be Leviathon?) undertaking; is it turning out or has it proved to be what you’d been led to expect?

15 thoughts on “Bookish update

  1. Welcome aboard, Chris! I can assure you’ve embarked on what will, in some ways, be a typical sea voyage — there will be lulls, but for the most part there’s something new to see all the time, even if only in the variation of the wave patterns. Atypically, though — much more excitement and danger than we’re used to these days when traveling. But worth it!

    As for my progress, Ishmael and his shipmates have sailed into the Indian Ocean, spotted a giant squid, and killed their first whale. One mystery has been cleared up, but only to spark another half-dozen. I’ll soon have a few more things to say about Ishmael, but I’ll try not to include any spoilers.

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    1. Thanks, Lizzie, it’ll be good to compare notes, whatever stage we have got to on our respective voyages. I’m only through half a dozen chapters so far as I’m still stuck in a virtual Yorkshire, but the end is nigh!

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  2. So, safe journey my captains, and as I have never finished the novel, but being familiar with the plot, of course, I’ll be glad to follow all your interpretations and insights, so I’ll be spared the trouble of reading it , or might even change my mind, but you must be very good. ⛵️🙋

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    1. I will try and at least entertain you in my commentaries, Stefy, even if they don’t persuade you yourself to embark on board! Thanks for your wishes of a safe passage, however—I have my travel-sickness tablet packed just in case, even if its only to counter verbal indigestion… 😁

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    1. You and me both, Bart: I’ve been prevaricating by reading around the subject, but now I just need to grab my passport and wave goodbye to the “sunny uplands” of Brexit Britain—though, to mix metaphors, I suspect that it may yet suffer the Pequod’s fate.

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    1. Thanks for piping me aboard, Captain! Do get those sea charts out to plot your own course for next year, and perhaps we might even meet if I become becalmed in the Pacific…

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  3. I did bring the whale home from the library once but it went back as it was–somehow I never did getting down to starting it. Looking forward to your thoughts! Also on Jane Eyre which is one that’s on my favourites list. Each time I read it, something ‘new’ strikes me.

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    1. Who knows, maybe I’ll fire you up with enthusiasm for Melville, Mallika, once I set sail and post reports?! But in the meantime there will be two or three short essays on the Brontë novel as I fear my thoughts on Jane Eyre will be too numerous for a brief review — but you may not mind that… 😁

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  4. I always hate being negative when someone is just starting a book, but I really thought Moby was one of the most over-rated books I’ve read. Apparently four publishers turned it down, and I’m on their side! And then when it was published it didn’t sell and wasn’t highly acclaimed by contemporary critics. I’m a bit baffled as to how it gained its later reputation. Having said all that, some parts are great, the film of the book is wonderful and sometimes I thoroughly enjoy hating a book… https://fictionfanblog.wordpress.com/2016/11/25/friday-frippery-a-conversation-regarding-whales/ 😉

    Of course, plenty of people love it, so I hope your reading experience will be happier than mine! 😀

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    1. I always knew it was rated a ‘difficult’ work, that it was a Marmite novel. I do hope I’ll see both sides of argument, what makes it work and what does not, and maybe even be able to offer a fresh perspective on it! But of course I can’t guarantee whether I will love it — or leave it!

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