Shopping Cart



Day 9

Moby-Dick by Herman Melville

Chapters 36-41

March 26, 2022 by Yiyun Li

“...shouted with a terrific, loud, animal sob, like that of a heart-stricken moose.” Ahab raves like Lear. However, the comparison of the sob to that of a dying moose, an ancient-looking, giant, solitary animal, may even make Shakespeare jealous.

The miniplay of the crew is like an orgy of ghosts, with humor, cacophony, fatalism masquerading as bravado; then, the prescient voice from Pip: “Who’d go climbing after chestnuts now?” The question, like a lone note on an oboe, always gives me a chill.

“Immortality is but ubiquity in time.” Chapter 41, two-fifths into the novel, we meet Moby Dick, but it’s a chapter about Ahab, too. They are reflections on two sides of a distorting mirror, racing each other in a game aimed at immortality.

Sign up for A Public Space's Newsletter