Questions tagged [herman-melville]

For questions about Herman Melville and his works, most notably Moby Dick.

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1answer
117 views

Bewilderment at “not the smallest atom stirs …” in “Moby-Dick”

In Chapter 70 (The Sphynx) of Moby-Dick, Ahab states: "O Nature, and O soul of man! how far beyond all utterance are your linked analogies; not the smallest atom stirs or lives on matter, but has ...
5
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1answer
103 views

Is there a math mistake in Moby Dick Chapter 99?

In Chapter 99 ("The Doubloon") of Moby Dick, Flask comments that the doubloon is worth 16 dollars, and, at two cents a cigar, that will get him 960 cigars. But if each cigar is two cents, then you ...
6
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1answer
2k views

What did the author of Moby Dick mean by the “Pythagorean Maxim”?

From Herman Melville's Moby Dick. For as in this world, head winds are far more prevalent than winds from astern (that is, if you never violate the Pythagorean maxim), so for the most part the ...
1
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0answers
121 views

In which editions of Moby Dick is this a six inch chapter?

Towards the beginning of Moby Dick there is a chapter which is dedicated to a character called Bulkington, in this chapter the Author addresses this as a "six-inch chapter" Wonderfullest things are ...
6
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2answers
480 views

Why is Ishmael sometimes seen as an unreliable narrator? Does he ever actually lie in the text?

Related: Does "call me Ishmael" imply that that might not be his real name? Ishmal in Moby-Dick has sometimes been called an example of an unreliable narrator. Why do some people think that?...
11
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2answers
479 views

Does “call me Ishmael” imply that that might not be his real name?

The narrator of Moby-Dick famously tells readers to "call me Ishmael." Is this implying that this might not have been his real name? If so, why would he lie about that?
9
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1answer
527 views

Is there any significance to the races of mates and harpooners in Moby Dick?

To my best knowledge, all four boatmates in Moby Dick are white men from the New England. The boatmates are the men in charge of the small whaling boats. Ahab - Quaker(?) from New England, possibly ...
9
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2answers
241 views

Why does Melville call Washington “General” rather than “President”

In Moby Dick, beginning of chapter 10, I read about the resemblance of Queequeg's head to George Washington's: It may seem ridiculous, but it reminded me of General Washington's head, as seen in ...
12
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1answer
738 views

Is calling Queequeg a “cannibal” meant to imply he literally consumed human flesh?

Ishmael and other characters repeated refer to Queequeg as a cannibal, which in modern parlance means that he consumes human flesh. However, the novel doesn't ever say that outright, rather, Ishmael ...
9
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1answer
909 views

What is the meaning of the rescue of Tashtego?

In Moby Dick, Tashtego falls into the sinking head of a sperm whale from which the crew was extracting the spermaceti; he is saved by Queequeg who cuts the head and extracts Tashtego as if the head ...
45
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1answer
6k views

Why is there so much technical detail of whaling included in Moby-Dick?

One of the peculiarities of Moby-Dick is that it includes large quantities of information about the science of whales and the practice of whaling. Whole chapters are dedicated to describing the ...