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The description for this book cites from "Beneath the American Renaissance" by David S. Reynolds. Reynolds, like many others, considers "Moby Dick" a great American novel. He discusses Batchelder's work in passing. He sees this as one of many books which told tales of sea-monsters, and thus potentially influenced Melville. Unfortunately, his appreciation of great literature is clearly distorted: "A Romance of the Sea-Serpent" is by far the better work. Consider:
*Melville writes in everyday prose. Batchelder is a poet. Nearly every paragraph in this masterpiece contains at least one rhyme. These aren't forced, either. None of his contemporaries could pull of a clause that bests "out on the sea, out on the sea, the fleet is dashing merrily!" The best part of his verse is the way he mixes it up. The various rhyme structures - ABAB, AABB, ABCABC - come at you unexpectedly. They're often placed in the middle of paragraphs written in standard prose. Batchelder seems to be making a statement about the unpredictability of life: you never know what his next rhyme will be, just like you never know when a sea monster might walk onto land and eat you from behind.
*Romance: Females are only mentioned in passing in Moby Dick. Most of the time that they come up, it's in regards to how awful their love life is: Ahab or some other sailor has abandoned them for a life on the sea. This work includes well-rounded women doing all the things typical women do: they have strapping young lads sing for them, they attend balls, and they get eaten by sea monsters.
*If romance isn't your thing, don't worry. This book is too powerful for one genre, and can easily be described as an action tale as well.Read more ›
A weird novella of sea monster action from the middle of the Nineteenth Century, written in approximate verse. The sea-serpent of the title goes on a murderous rampage, eating women and children with great relish, and ends up becoming something of a celebrity on land, even giving a controversial address at Harvard and ruining a New England ball. All very odd, but quite entertaining--read it as 'Moby-Dick' crazed little cousin.
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