Day 10Moby-Dick by Herman Melville
March 27, 2022 by Yiyun Li
The 3rd paragraph of “The Whiteness of the Whale” is one sentence, with 17 semicolons, and the word “though” appearing 12 times. What an endeavor to lead us to the final sentence: “there yet lurks an elusive something in the innermost idea of this hue…”
“...an absurdly hopeless task thus to seek out one solitary creature in the unhooped oceans of this planet.” “Unhooped oceans” is as fabulous as Puck’s saying: “I'll put a girdle round about the earth / In forty minutes.” From my incomplete research, the only other writer who has used the adjective “unhooped” is Dickens, in Great Expectations: “Like an unhooped cask upon a pole.”
“[Captain D’Wolf] resides in the village of Dorchester near Boston. I have the honor of being a nephew of his.” So rarely does Ishmael talk about his back story. Here it feels as though he is proving that he, like Moby Dick, is neither fable nor allegory.