Sunday, December 11, 2011

Some reading before reading...

One great thing to read if you have 5 minutes in this period before the actual reading of Moby Dick begins is the Biblical story of Jonah. It is four spare verses without undue drama or color and a very simple story, but will be echoed throughout Moby's hundred and thirty-five chapters. Most of us already know the story in embellished form (save perhaps the fourth verse), and it's good to remember the purity and spareness of the four simple verses.

This is a detail from a third to fifth century coptic wall-hanging in the Louvre ((c) Louvre, noncommercial use permitted). The story is not just old, but has been retold wherever sailors gather. Often, however, without the ending, which is both the point and a bit of a curve ball for many.

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