Tit-Bits

At last, passage paid, and luggage safe, we stood on board the schooner. Hoisting sail, it glided down the Acushnet river. On one side, New Bedford rose in terraces of streets, their ice- covered trees all glittering in the clear, cold air. Huge hills and mountains of casks on casks were piled upon her wharves, and side by side the world-wandering whale ships lay silent and safely moored at last; while from others came a sound of carpenters and coopers, with blended noises of fires and forges to melt the pitch, all betokening that new cruises were on the start; that one most perilous and long voyage ended, only begins a second; and a second ended, only begins a third, and so on, for ever and for aye. Such is the endlessness, yea, the intolerableness of all earthly effort.

Gaining the more open water, the bracing breeze waxed fresh; the little Moss tossed the quick foam from her bows, as a young colt his snortings. How I snuffed that Tartar air! — how I spurned that turnpike earth! — that common highway all over dented with the marks of slavish heels and hoofs; and turned me to admire the magnanimity of the sea which will permit no records.

***

“Such is the endlessness, yea, the intolerableness of all earthly effort [and so I] turned me to admire the magnanimity of the sea which will permit no records.”

I’m not sure that it can be said better than that.  Recall that this “earthly effort” is a punishment inflicted upon humanity by its “Creator,” and that Biblical Expulsion is a recording.  The woe of humanity is inscribed on clay.  There is freedom in the abysmal oblivion of the deep.  But we cannot seem to bear that cost.

Melville is a constant wonderment to me.  Friends, good friends, good readers, I know, struggle to enter it’s “terraqueous” deeps.  But I promise that once you find the rhythm you will discover that you will never sound the fullness of it.

I recommend an audiobook to assist you in locating its tidal pull.  The Recorded Books, Inc. work by read by Frank Muller is unparalleled.

I have also suggested to friends that they simply read chapters here and there.  So, to that end I will list some of my favorites.  The chapters are normally fairly short.  Let me know your thoughts about them if you read any.  Also, if you’d like I could try to read these into audiofiles for you (but you get what you pay for!).

I’ve listed them ordered as they are in the book–but as I said, just pick one and go.  No need (at this point) to start anywhere in particular.

Chapter i, LOOMINGS

Chapter ii, THE CARPET-BAG

Chapter ix, THE SERMON

Chapter xiv, NANTUCKET

Chapter xxiv, THE ADVOCATE

Chapter xxvi KNIGHTS AND SQUIRES

Chapter xxvii KNIGHTS AND SQUIRES

Chapter xxxv THE MAST-HEAD

Chapter xlii THE WHITENESS OF THE WHALE

Chapter lviii BRIT

Chapter lx THE LINE

Chapter lxii THE DART

Chapter lxiv STUBB’S SUPPER

Chapter lxviii THE BLANKET

Chapter lxxii THE MONKEY ROPE

Chapter lxxiv THE SPERM WHALE’S HEAD — CONTRASTED VIEW

Chapter lxxix THE PRAIRE

Chapter lxxxii THE HONOR AND GLORY OF WHALING

Chapter lxxxv THE FOUNTAIN

Chapter lxxxvi THE TAIL

Chapter lxxxvii THE GRAND ARMADA

Chapter lxxxix FAST-FISH AND LOOSE-FISH

Chapter xciii THE CASTAWAY

Chapter xciv A SQUEEZE OF THE HAND

Chapter xcv THE CASSOCK

Chapter xcvi THE TRY-WORKS

Chapter xcix THE DOUBLOON

Chapter cvii THE CARPENTER

Chapter cviii AHAB AND THE CARPENTER

Chapter cxiv THE GILDER

Chapter cxviii THE QUADRANT

Chapter cxix THE CANDLES

Chapter cxxiv THE NEEDLE

Chapter cxxxii THE SYMPHONY

Chapter cxxxiii THE CHASE — FIRST DAY

Chapter cxxxiv THE CHASE — SECOND DAY

Chapter cxxxv THE CHASE — THIRD DAY

 

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