Tuesday, 10 April 2012

I

I is for 'Ishmael'.
I fell in love with the novel 'Moby Dick' when I was eight. I was a goner from the first like 'Call me Ishmael'. As I grew up, the tale of the great white whale appeared to me with a hundred other thoughts, a ton of other mysteries. And with the knowledge of the Bible came the appreciation of the protagonist, a school teacher turned sailor, Ishmael.
Abraham and his wife Sarai (in religious history, of course) were unable to conceive. So, Sarai suggested using her Egyptian handmaid Hagar, as a surrogate. Thus, Ishmael was born. Years later, however, Sarai got pregnant and delivered a baby boy, Isaac. Driven by jealousy, she convinced her husband to drive away Hagar and Ishmael. They spent years in the desert and yet the boy was to become great. All of that would eventually lead to Moses. But I get carried away.
The plot of Moby Dick is symbolical. The cruel and madly driven captain of the ship Pequod, Captain Ahab, has only one aim in life, to kill the whale Moby Dick. Ishmael narrates the story and somewhere in the middle of the book,  he becomes omnipresent and almost able to read peoples' minds.

Illustration from an early edition of Moby Dick (from Wikipedia)

Moby Dick is a thrilling tale. It is one of those books that must be read as children and reread as adults.

10 comments:

Susan Flett Swiderski said...

I'm almost ashamed to admit it, but I never finished reading this book. I was maybe fifteen when I gave it a try, but simply couldn't get into it at all. But that was a bazillion years ago, so maybe I'd have a different take on it now.

S. L. Hennessy said...

I used to hate Moby Dick, but then I read it again for college and I changed my mind. Ishmael is a pretty complex and terrific character.

Lucy Adams said...

One of the best opening lines ever.

Happy A to Z.

Lucy

Tony Laplume, Scouring Monk said...

Melville is general is an incredibly rewarding author to read. The Confidence-Man is probably his unsung masterpiece besides Moby-Dick, and needs to be more widely read.

"effervescencia" said...

@Susan: No shame :) happened to me with LOTR, can you believe it! bit once I began reading it the second time, I loved it!

JoJo said...

I can't get past the first page of this book....it's just way too boring. I'll take the movie w/ Greg Peck any day. It's based upon a real story of a white sperm whale attacking a ship off the coast of South America. Very interesting stuff. I live not too far from New Bedford.

Melissa Kiefer said...

As an English teacher, I really appreciate using literary characters in your A-Z Challenge. So clever. I can't wait to read about the other characters you choose. It feels like remembering old friends. Lovely blog.

"effervescencia" said...

@Melissa: How cool! I'd love to teach English someday... do you teach kids or adolescents?

Teresa Cypher aka T K CypherBuss said...

Wow! I never got the symbolism before! Thanks. Another great post, effervescencia. :-)

Aditya said...

Have you read 'Tonight' by Agha Shahid Ali?

Here's the link:

http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poem/182207