where I exchanged my Borges and Isherwood tapes for a 22-hour monster, the unabridgedMoby Dick. I’ve never fully read Melville’s masterpiece, I’m embarrassed to say, but I’m not certain I can get through the tapes, either.
Last evening, before I fell asleep, I listened to the first two of 15 cassettes of Moby Dick. Why did I never read this book before? It’s amazing how modern Melville’s story is, and how clearly and skillfully told. As hard as it might be to fit in the hours required to listen to the entire novel in two weeks – when the tape is due – I’m going to try. It’s a better break from law school than TV.
I’ll be snuggling up in bed early with myMoby Dick tapes. I read – Freudian slip – I listened to another tape earlier: Ishmael and Queegqueg have shipped out on the Pequod but Captain Ahab hasn’t appeared yet. And, afraid I would not be able to finish law school, we continued:
I think joining the Peace Corps and going to Europe might be an adventure like whaling. I’d prefer to stay in Gainesville, but I don’t know that I’ll have that choice.
Last night’s tape of Moby Dick contained Melville’s detailed explanations about the different kinds of whales. As Robin Cisne, the woman in Ithaca, wrote me, to her, Moby Dick is an experimental novel.
I listened to a little Moby Dick last night and was most impressed with Melville’s tour de force on the scary connotations of whiteness.And on Thursday, November 6:
Before I fell asleep, I listened to another few chapters of Moby Dick; at times I find Melville’s words so euphonious that I forget to listen for meaning as I concentrate on their sound.
I listened to more of Moby Dick. Melville’s little essays on every aspect of whaling and things related to it are some of the best parts of the novel. Although some nights I’ve fallen asleep with a tape still running, I’ve got a feel for the novel, and I feel ashamed I never read it. But then, I’ve got a lot to learn.
At 4 PM I took a drive, listening to Moby Dick, getting excited as Old Ahab stalks the white whale (I’m on side two of 14 tapes of 15).And then we write again, unable to sleep, at 11 PM:
Tired as I was, I’m still awake. I listened to the end of Moby Dick, an exciting conclusion to a brilliant book. Someday I’ll have to take the time to read it at my leisure, but I’m glad I listened to all 21½ hours of it. Such a masterpiece, yet when Melville published it, he was ignored. The man who wrote this and Billy Budd (not published till long after he died), Benito Cereno and other great books spent the last twenty years of his life as a customs agent in New York City. If that was Melville’s treatment, why should I – whose talent is a tiny fraction of his – expect anything better?First Fall in Gainesville, comes on Thursday, November 14, 1991:
Back home for lunch, I spent an hour revising the first part of my memo. Before returning to campus, I dropped off the Moby Dick tape at the public library after detouring around the downtown street that was blocked off for the satellite dish trucks from Orlando and Tampa TV stations’ news departments. I guess they’re expecting the grand jury will hand down an indictment in the student murders. [the notorious horrific crime of the previous fall, something that would probably have fascinated Melville]