Bücher online kostenlos Kostenlos Online Lesen

Why Read Moby-Dick

Titel: Why Read Moby-Dick
Autoren: Nathaniel Philbrick
Vom Netzwerk:
allow no boarders to take sich dangerous weepons in their rooms a-night.”
    The next day, Ishmael leaves Queequeg in their room praying to his tiny wooden idol, Yojo. When he returns that evening, he finds the door locked. Queequeg does not answer his increasingly anxious knocks, and Ishmael, aided and abetted by Mrs. Hussey, begins to fear the worst. Queequeg has killed himself. “It’s unfort’nate Stiggs done over again . . . ,” Mrs. Hussey wails. “God pity his poor mother!” In desperation, Ishmael shoulders open the door, only to find Queequeg still squatting trancelike before his wooden idol.
    A similar drama was enacted every day in the Melville household during the composition of Moby-Dick . Locked in his room, Melville routinely ignored attempts by his family members to offer him some lunch. In the years to come, his very Mrs. Hussey–like mother feared that her son’s commitment to writing was not good for his sanity, a concern Ishmael echoes soon after discovering Queequeg: “I began to grow vexed with him; it seemed so downright senseless and insane to be sitting there all day and half the night on his hams in a cold room, holding a piece of wood on his head.” These are sentiments to which the parent (or spouse) of any writer can relate.

    The Pequod
    T ime passes, fashions come and go, and the past becomes its own hermetically sealed world. It’s easy to laugh at those people under figurative glass, or, even worse, to revere them as exempt from the complexities of our own age. Baloney. Life is life, and the world Melville describes in Moby-Dick is as cutting-edge, confused, and out-there as anything we can dream up in our own time. Take, for example, the square-rigged, bluff-bowed whaleship.
    Simple and cheap to build, it lasted for decades and could sail around the world without using a jot of carbon-based fuel. It was home to a crew of between twenty and thirty-five sailors who regularly pursued the largest game the world has ever known. If the whalemen were lucky enough to kill one of these creatures, the deck of the ship became a slippery slaughterhouse as the gigantic corpse was hacked into pieces for processing. With the firing up of the chimneylike tryworks, the ship was transformed into a refinery, and the greasy, foul-smelling whale blubber became oil. The sale of this yellowish fluid, stored in wooden casks and used to light the streets of major cities and lubricate the machines of the emerging Industrial Age, made the predominantly Quaker whaling merchants of Nantucket some of the richest men in America and the world.
    The Pequod, the ship that Ishmael chooses for himself and Queequeg, is one of these remarkable, incredibly complex machines, but she is also something more. Just as Nantucket is largely a rhetorical construct, so is the Pequod not of this world. She is the mythic incarnation of America: a country blessed by God and by free enterprise that nonetheless embraces the barbarity it supposedly supplanted. The Pequod (named for the once-defeated Indian tribe that now owns a highly profitable casino in Connecticut—how Melville would have loved that turn of events!) is an old ship, and she wears her history visibly: “Her ancient decks were worn and wrinkled, like the pilgrim-worshipped flag-stone in Canterbury Cathedral where Beckett bled. But to all these her old antiquities, were added new and marvellous features, pertaining to the wild business that for more than half a century she had followed.... She was a thing of trophies. A cannibal of a craft, tricking herself forth in the chased bones of her enemies. All round, her unpanelled, open bulwarks were garnished like one continuous jaw, with the long sharp teeth of the sperm whale, inserted there for pins, to fasten her old hempen thews and tendons to.... A noble craft, but somehow a most melancholy! All noble things are touched with that.”
    On the Pequod ’s weather- and oil-stained deck, her two owners, the Quaker merchants Peleg and Bildad, sheltered in a wigwam made of whalebone, sign on crew members for as little money as possible. Like the United States, a nation devoted to freedom for all that also sanctioned slavery, these two Quaker whalemen—in particular, the pious Bildad—have found a way to accommodate two seemingly irreconcilable principles. “[T]hough a sworn foe to human bloodshed, yet had he . . . spilled tuns upon tuns of leviathan
Vom Netzwerk:

Weitere Kostenlose Bücher