« | Home | »

Moby, without the Dicks

Tags: | | |

‘What makes Melville Melville is digression, texture, and weirdness,’ says Damion Searls. No, said Orion Books in 2007, all that extraneous business just gets in the way of the story arc. Without all that whale stuff, you could make a readable book. Hey, maybe someone could make an action movie.

The result was Moby-Dick in Half the Time (which you can buy in a bargain bundle at Amazon with Vanity Fair in Half the Time and Anna Karenina in Half the Time). ‘All Dick and no Moby,’ said Adam Gopnik in the New Yorker. Moby Dick is the novel you read to see what novels can be, and for delight.

There’s a touch of Pierre Menard about Searls’s Or, The Whale. Instead of re-creating Don Quixote line for line in its 17th-century Spanish original – a perfect translation – the non-fictional Searls has produced the missing Moby, and created a second subsidiary text made of every chapter, word and punctuation mark that Orion cut out, all in the right order. Now what we need is a third book to be published that puts both texts together…

Comments on “Moby, without the Dicks”

  1. Daniel Soar says:

    Chapter 1 begins: “methodically. With a philosophical flourish Cato throws himself upon his sword; I quietly take to the ship.” Genius.

  2. paulr says:

    Is there more to Ms Diski’s thoughts, or does it just stop there “…both texts together…”?

Comment on this post

Log in or register to post a comment.


  • Recent Posts

    RSS – posts

  • Contributors

  • Recent Comments

    • Bob Beck on Beware of Cows: There was a strikingly similar, and farcical, incident in Ottawa in Oct. 2014. A disturbed young man, armed with an anitique rifle -- the kind of thin...
    • jcl on Raw Material: We did not need a debate about (nonexistent) censorship - We need a conversation about what kinds of acts are effective for becoming an accomplice in ...
    • IPFreely on Blunt Instruments: "They have to pay for their crimes... " has been the clarion call of the right ever since the days of public hanging and flogging. Why not send some...
    • Glen Newey on Beware of Cows: I could have made the following points more explicitly, but generally credit LRB readers with the intelligence to join up the dots. Coverage of thi...
    • Parissing on Raw Material: My European vantage must have spoiled me. From appeals to an unquestionable moral authority and the various congregational amens known as virtue signa...

    RSS – comments

  • Contact

  • Blog Archive

Advertisement Advertisement