Moby Dick by Herman Melville

Moby Dick: Platinum Illustrated Classics (Illustrated) - Kindle ...

Moby Dick (1819 — 1891) is a long sea novel published in 1851 by Herman Melville, an American novelist in the 19th century. The novel describes the story of Captain Ahab’s pursuit and killing of Moby Dick, a white sperm whale, and his final death together with the white whale. The story creates an atmosphere in which people are exposed to various dangers and even death at any time. It is the representative work of the author. The movie Moby Dick released on June 27, 1956 is based on the novel.

Ahab, captain of the Peron, who, in the course of a whale hunt, was bitten off a leg by the fierce and clever Moby Dick, the white whale, was so intent on revenge that he lost his reason and became a dictating paranoiac. He sailed almost all over the world until he met Moby Dick. After three days of pursuing, he struck the white whale with a harpoon, but the ship was wrecked by the white whale, and Ahab, entangled by the harpoon’s rope, fell into the sea. The whole crew went overboard, and only Ishmael the sailor was saved.

In 1839, Melville began his life at sea, working as a steward on a ship bound for Liverpool, England. Two years later, he worked as a sailor on a whaler, hunting whales in the South Pacific. About a year and a half later, he fled the boat with a good friend and later boarded a whaling ship from Sydney. Unfortunately, he got aught up in the ship’s rebellion and was imprisoned in a makeshift prison. Melville managed to escape and lived in Calabria for months before taking a boat to Honolulu. Soon he became a sailor and cruised the Pacific until he returned to Boston in 1844. Melville’s voyages and adventures became the main material for his early works.

-Coreen C.

Moby Dick by Herman Melville is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It can also be downloaded for free from Overdrive.

The Sea Wolf by Jack London

The Sea-Wolf - Kindle edition by London, Jack. Literature ...

“The Sea Wolf” is a novel written by American writer Jack London. The novel depicts a heart-wrenching battle and an unforgettable love story on board a sealing-hunting sailing ship called the “Ghost”. The “Wolf” in the novel is not only the name of Captain Larsen, but also the synonym of superman for the author. Through the novel, the author leads the readers into the callousness of the wild life and feels the dark side of the brutal human nature and the brightness of the primitive life. At the same time, it also exposes the disadvantages of the capitalist society and shows the praise for the strong will of the working people and the sympathy for the suffering life.

On the “Ghost” , there is no legal order, no distinction between good and evil, no humanity, let alone the most true and most beautiful human emotions. The life of a seaman was like an ant to him, and whoever he wanted to die had to die. Larsen became the most loyal follower and the most powerful enforcer of Darwinism. The crew he recruited on the sea were only salaried slaves. The seal hunter was his accomplice. The shipwrecked people he rescued became his cheap labor force to fill the gap. He not only swore at the death of his former first mate, but roughly buried him and threw him into the sea. When Harrison, a new sailor, got caught by a high mast, his life was in danger; however, Larsen wouldn’t let anyone go up and help him.

To fill the void, he forced Weyden, whom he had rescued from the ship, to come and work for him. Under the tyrant’s rule and influence, the rest of the crew became rough and brutal. Thomas whet his knife at Weyden all day long, but Weyden, not to be outdone, took his knife to the grindstone all day long, and at last won. Johnson was beaten black and blue for saying something that offended Larson, and Leach, the sailor, swore at Larsen and then beat up the good cook. In Larsen’s world, violence against violence is the law of existence.

Many progressive male intellectuals, including the writer Jack London, supported and championed feminism and expressed their desire for social change;however, traditional ideas are in deep ideological conflict and often bring them back to the desire for traditional power relations. In “The Sea Wolf” we can see a certain disharmony: one comes from the writer’s consciously expressed ideas, the other from the writer’s unconscious desires; one is the principle of gender politics, the other is the pragmatism of social life. The two tendencies interweave together, making the novel a contradictory text.

-Coreen C.

Book Review: Life on the Mississippi by Mark Twain

Life on the Mississippi: Mark Twain, Grover Gardner: 9781441764737 ...

Life on the Mississippi is an autobiographical travel book. Mark Twain recalled his work as a sailor on the Mississippi River. The author has a keen interest in the Mississippi River. In his hands, the river emerges as a living, changeable, unpredictable, capricious image. To Mark Twain, who had little schooling, the Mississippi River was nothing less than a university, which exposed him to many mysterious natural and complex social phenomena. The rise and fall of the Mississippi River even directly affect the rise and fall of farms and cities. In those years, the river had fought its way through Hurricane Island, Arkansas, Walnut, and Conference Bay. The author also describes with delight the cities along the Banks of the Mississippi: Burlington, St. Louis, Minneapolis, Rock Island, New Orleans, and St. Paul.

The author’s love for nature and for the working people is reflected in his autobiographical travel notes Life on the Mississippi. Mark Twain had a special feeling for the Mississippi River because he had worked as a pilot in his youth, working with the crew and fighting side by side on the river. He knew its eddies, its reefs, and its rapids. He never forgot the mountains, towns, and local customs on both sides of the river. In his novel, the author gives a very touching description of the beautiful scenery that rises over the river at sunset. The writer describes nature, not for the sake of scenery, but to express his complex mood by describing nature. The author emphasizes that of all his experiences, the one that has left the deepest impression on him is his life as a sailor in the Mississippi River.

-Coreen C.