Day 7Moby-Dick by Herman Melville
March 24, 2022 by Yiyun Li
28 chapters in—one fifth into the novel—we finally get to meet Ahab, the “supreme lord and dictator” of the Pequod, and the chapter ends with an image of the thunder-cloven old oak sending off green shoots, resonating with Andrei’s revival in War and Peace.
“For a Khan of the pank, and a king of the sea, and a great lord of Leviathans was Ahab.” One would think no other character could bear the name Ahab. Then I encountered, in E. F Benson’s Mapp and Lucia books, a servant comically and unfittingly named Ahab.
“Celology” is one of my favorite chapters, an anchor in facts before we enter “unshored, harborless immensities.” It also reminds me of a zoology exam in college, being given sets of teeth from different fish species to categorize—it was fish forensics!