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Herman Melville Drinks Your Milkshake

Herman Melville Drinks Your Milkshake

by Micah Towery on May 13, 2010

I was fortunate enough to have a American Literature professor who blew off the typical survey class BS and just gave us some of the best literature of the 19th century: Hawthorne, Dickinson, Melville, among others… In that class, I read Moby-Dick for the first time. I believe I read most of it over the course of a few days. The rhythms of Melville’s language carried me through.

I’ve felt the old beast calling to me again lately. I found a free audiobook copy online. So far, the reader has been fantastic. Librivox probably has the book ,as well, but their (volunteer) readers can be hit or miss.

I have also been digging through PBS and CBC video archives (soon I’ll hit C-SPAN) to fill my time with whatever goodies are stuck in there. I came across this most recent episode of The American Experience on the American whaling industry. It includes many beautiful and meditative passages from Melville, and also shows how the dependence of America on the whaling industry (and the extremes to which it was driven to meet those demands) prefigured much of the modern era of oil. Perhaps it is ironic then that our most recent oil crisis involves millions of oil being spewed into the deeps of the gulf.

My wife and I visited Melville’s home in Pittsfield (where I grew up) over our honeymoon. Earlier that day, we had climbed Mt. Greylock. While sitting on the porch of Melville’s home (I love Melville, but I am not paying 12 bucks to do a 20 minute tour of his house), we could see Greylock just over the tops of the trees. Apparently, Melville looked to the mountain during the winter (when it was white) as inspiration for his whale.

One more program worth checking out is from Studio360 on Moby-Dick. The interview with Stanley Crouch is very much worth a listen.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Jason Crane May 13, 2010 at 9:05 am

Hi Micah: I also love Melville and Moby-Dick in particular, but I’m actually writing because I like to say hi whenever a Berkshire native appears. I was born in Pittsfield and grew up in Lenox. (And have contributed once to TheThe.) Go 413!

Img May 13, 2010 at 9:32 am

Hi Micah: I also love Melville and Moby-Dick in particular, but I’m actually writing because I like to say hi whenever a Berkshire native appears. I was born in Pittsfield and grew up in Lenox. (And have contributed once to TheThe.) Go 413!
+1

Micah Towery May 13, 2010 at 10:35 am

@jason: i lived in pittsfield for 6 years, between 1988-1994. beautiful area. wish i could have lived there longer.

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