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Customer Discussions > Fiction forum

What's So Great About "Moby Dick"?

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Showing 26-35 of 35 posts in this discussion
Posted on Jul 3, 2012 12:00:40 PM PDT
Frank Mundo says:
I read that there are studies that show reading classic books exercises less-often-used parts of the brain that have both mental and physical benefits. I imagine it's the same thing about how classical music increases one's IQ or benefits all forms of life, from babies in the womb to plants and other wildlife. A good analogy might be the so-called runner's high, a rush of endorphins that only those who run hard and regularly regularly enjoy...and the rest of us who've never felt it can't believe it's actually real.

I get this kind of reader's high from reading hard and regularly the older "boring" books. I especially love the boringest classics like Moby Dick, because they don't follow the rules and aren't dumbed down to a common denominator; because how it's told is just as (or even more important) than what is told; because it's not about a formula or pacing or even a plot; because it's not about escaping, but about engaging and challenging readers and sharing beautiful and ugly reality, not simply passing time or setting up the next same book in the same series of endless sameness. Moby Dick, Anna Karenina, War and Peace, Madame Bovary -- we will never see novels like this again. Today's books that even dare to break the rules are put in a special box called boring and have their own set of rules. Apologetically, they're called picaresque, character studies, cautionary tales, even satire or pastiche...synonyms for snooty, elitist, overrated, homework, required or acquired taste reading -- literary with a snarl, while Book Nine of Fifty Shades of The Twilight Hunger Code Series dominates the industry and yet everyone swears that they didn't waste their money buying, let alone reading, these over-hyped works. To me, that's what's great about Moby Dick.

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 3, 2012 4:37:30 PM PDT
Carolina says:
Amazing works, she wrote. Terrible what those people went through.

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 3, 2012 4:43:10 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jul 3, 2012 4:48:29 PM PDT
Carolina says:
I've always loved to read. What can I say? Interesting parallel you draw. I'll have to mull that over. Just keep reading!

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 3, 2012 4:48:05 PM PDT
Carolina says:
Well stated, Frank Mundo,and I've sampled the newer works mentioned but not been enthralled by any of them.

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 4, 2012 10:02:14 PM PDT
J. Case says:
How far a human being would go when altered by a animal.
From what I read there is no simple answer for who is the villain in this it depends on your point of view.

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 5, 2012 5:45:59 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jul 5, 2012 8:51:54 AM PDT
I love to read too! My horror group finished its weekly read, so I have time to sneak in a book before our next read is chosen.
So I started Northanger Abbey. I'm slowly trying to read all of Jane Austin. Last year I finally read Jane Eyre (by Bronte) and I figured it was time for some Abbey action. : )

Posted on Jul 5, 2012 5:53:54 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jul 9, 2012 10:10:51 AM PDT
W.T. says:
I'm often struck by how often classic writers' most famous "masterpieces" end up not being their best works (in my opinion). "Moby Dick" was a powerful story, but it was overwritten even by the standards of the day. As I mentioned earlier, I think Melville's first writings are his best because they have an energy not found in his later, more staid works. That said, I liked Melville's final book, "Billy Budd", better than "Moby Dick" also. An older, more mature Melville was able to produce a more nuanced allegory in "Billy Budd", and I think that had Melville lived to refine it a little more before publication, it (and not Moby Dick) would be the book for which he is best remembered. It's ultimately a more relatable story to me. I don't often chase after whales (even allegorical ones), but I do know what it's like to be caught between the competing agendas of human beings in opposition to one another.

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 5, 2012 8:52:34 AM PDT
Thanks for posting, WK!
I think I will look into Billy Budd.

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 5, 2012 10:29:57 AM PDT
I think Moby Dick was plenty nuanced, and only suffered from Melville's lousy pacing at the end. I have to agree about Melville's later work: The Confidence-Man is a really complex philosophical satire, and is a lot more focused than his early novel of ideas, Mardi.

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 7, 2012 7:30:01 AM PDT
R.A. Mathis says:
Great post, Frank!
I never considered the connection between classical music and classical literature. I've been to the symphony a few times and it's true that the music reaches the mind on a different level. Twenty minutes in, my head feels like a hard drive on defrag (in a good way).
I suppose loosing one's self in a classical literary masterpiece could have a simlilar effect. Maybe that's when all the levels of the story begin to peel back like an onion and the appreciation you mention becomes possible.
Food for thought I suppose.
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This discussion

Discussion in:  Fiction forum
Participants:  16
Total posts:  35
Initial post:  Jun 28, 2012
Latest post:  Jul 7, 2012

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