No worries -- you can skim or skip over whole sections and no one will ever know.
For those of you who are scared to begin, Jack Murnighan, author of Beowulf on the Beach, suggests:
"What to Skip: The whiteness chapter (42) does seem to drag (though when taken, as it should be, with as many grains of salt as are in the Pacific, it's a lot more enjoyable). However, the chapters that are most dispensable are 32 (but don't miss the last paragraph) and 55 through 57, all of which contain the more gratuitous of Melville's exhaustive facts on whaling."
And this is how he describes the book:
"The sea monster to end all sea monsters: a ten-ton, sixty-foot sperm whale, white as a baby's butt and just as explosive."
Thoughts on Moby-Dick from author & playwright Alexander Steele:
"Very much like a whale, the novel Moby-Dick is a thing of gigantic size and haunting mystery."
"In a sense, Moby-Dick is really three books rolled into a single volume. It's partly a thrilling action story, partly an in-depth study of whales and whaling, and partly a philosophical exploration of man and the universe."
"... While keeping the story's sense of high adventure, Melville also explored important themes and ideas through his use of symbolism."
"... Certain realistic elements in the story can also be viewed with larger meaning. For example: the Pequod, with its multi-national crew, can be seen as the Earth. The sea, huge and always shifting can be seen as the human mind. The white whale, both threatening and splendid can be seen as the whole universe."
... A well-known author of the time, D. H. Lawrence, spoke for many when he wrote ... 'It moves awe in the soul.'"
Saturdays at FALMOUTH PUBLIC LIBRARY 300 Main Street
January 9, 2010 at 1:30 pm Double Feature! DOWN TO THE SEA IN SHIPS (1922)
(83 min.) Set in New Bedford, whaling capital of America in the 1850s. Illustrates Quaker life and the exploits of the whaling industry. Includes scenes from an actual whale hunt. Starring the original "IT girl" Clara Bow.
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THE ESSEX:The True Story of Moby-Dick (1996)
(50 min.) A History Channel production. The incredible story of the wreck of the whaleship Essex. The inspiration for Melville's great classic.
January 16, 2010 at 2:00 pm MOBY-DICK (1956)
(115 min.) The classic film version, directed by John Huston, screenplay by Ray Bradbury. Starring Gregory Peck (Captain Ahab), Richard Basehart (Ishmael), and Orson Welles (Father Mapple).
January 23, 2010 at 2:00 pm MOBY-DICK (1998)
(184 min.) Golden Globe winning TV miniseries starring Patrick Stewart as Captain Ahab, and featuring Gregory Peck as Father Mapple.
January 30, 2010 at 2:00 pm MAJOR LEAGUE (1989)
(106 min.) Pays homage to Moby-Dick as a cultural icon in a humorous subplot. Stars Tom Berenger, Charlie Sheen, and Corbin Bernsen. Please note that this film is rated R.
March 6, 2010 at 1:30 pm THE SEA BEAST (1926)
(136 min., plus intermission) Silent screen adaptation of Moby-Dick, starring John Barrymore as "Captain Ahab Cooley." Featuring live accompaniment by silent film pianist Richard Hughes.
Sunday, January 10, 2010 (1:30 pm at Falmouth Public Library) CALL US ISHMAEL: floating on a coffin in the middle of Moby-Dick. Presented by Mass. Maritime Academy Professor Jim Morgan.Bring your questions!
Sunday, January 24, 2010 (1:30 pm at Falmouth Public Library)
Slide presentation and talk by Eric Jay Dolin, author of LEVIATHAN: the history of whaling in America.
Saturday, February 6, 2010 (2:00 pm at MORSE POND SCHOOL) THE REAL MOBY-DICK: the wreck of the Whaleship Essex and the writing of an American masterpiece. Presentation by noted author Nathaniel Philbrick.
Monday, February 22, 2010 (7:30 pm at Woods Hole Public Library) WANTED DEAD OR ALIVE: Lessons for large whale conservation. Presented by WHOI scientist and marine mammal specialist, Michael Moore.
Saturday, February 27, 2010 (2:00 pm at Falmouth Public Library) PEOPLE WHO PULLED THE OARS: Nantucket's whale ships, including the "Pequod" a slide presentation by Nantucket author Frances Karttunen.
Saturday, April 10, 2010 (2:00 pm at Falmouth Public Library)
Professor Wyn Kelley, a Melville Society member and author of MELVILLE: an introduction, will give a slide presentation on "MELVILLE'S PACIFIC."
Saturday, April 24, 2010 (2:00 pm at Falmouth Public Library)
Lecture by Melville scholar and Mystic Seaport faculty member Mary K. Bercaw-Edwards will speak about Melville and MOBY-DICK.
Wednesday, July 7, 2010 (7:00 pm at Falmouth Public Library) Philip Hoare, British author of the best-selling book THE WHALE: in Search of Giants of the Sea is making a special visit to Falmouth to show his remarkable BBC documentary file -- In Search of Moby-Dick.
The following events will all be held in the Children's Room at the Falmouth Public Library:
Wednesday, February 10 (6:30 - 7:30) SAILORS' VALENTINES
Please register in the Children's Department. Space is limited! Children are required to bring an adult to participate. (For ages 5 and up)
Tuesday, February 23 (6:30 pm) BOOK DISCUSSION GROUP FOR KIDS
We will be reading the graphic novel Moby-Dick by Lew Schwartz. Join us for a lively discussion and a surprise snack! Please register. (For ages 9-12)
Saturday, March 13 (10:30 - 12:00) A WHALE OF A TIME!
We will have Kim Torres doing lots of things about whales for a free family fun Saturday! (For ages 3-7)
Saturday, May 22 (4:00 pm at Falmouth Academy) A CELEBRATION OF THE SEA
Revels Repertory Company presents A Celebration of the Sea. A cast of 35 adults and children in an original musical theatre production including chanteys, ballads, anthems and dock side children's songs. The event will be held at Falmouth Academy, 7 Highfield Drive, Falmouth, MA 02540. This event is sponsored by the Falmouth Historical Society and the Woods Hole Historical Museum. Free and open to the public.
Saturday, March 13, 2010 at the Falmouth Public Library
Beginning at 12:00 noon, volunteers will take turns, reading straight through the night, until Moby-Dick is put to rest on Sunday afternoon. Anyone interested in participating should contact coordinator Jayne Iafrate at 508-292-2368 or email at: jiafrate gmail.com.