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Moby Dick Chapter 3. The Spouter-Inn. 
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Post Re: Moby Dick Chapter 3. The Spouter-Inn.
Quote:
Upon entering the place I found a number of young seamen gathered about a table, examining by a dim light divers specimens of skrimshander.



I thought the word skrimshander was being used here, as we would use skrimshaw, to mean bits of bone, or horn, having been intricately carved.

I did think the chapter was entertaining although, what made my skin creep, wasn't the fearsome image of Queequeg, but the thoughts of sharing a bed with a complete stranger. There were not the facilities for washing in those days, so lice and bedbugs would have been prevalent. I expect Queequeg's pipe of tobacco might have helped keep them at bay.

When I wake up some mornings, I look as though I've been dead for a fortnight, believe me, my husband must love me dearly. LOL.

One would definitely prefer Queequeg's patchwork beauty. I think I might go get a tattoo!!


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Mon Mar 05, 2012 10:19 am
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Post Re: Moby Dick Chapter 3. The Spouter-Inn.
Robert Tulip wrote:
Chapter link: http://www.gutenberg.org/files/2701/270 ... m#2HCH0003

The boggy, soggy, squitchy picture in the entrance to Mr. Coffin's welcoming though spare establishment, the Spouter Inn of New Bedford Massachussets, has some strange allegorical meaning. What could this besmoked defaced painting be? By diligent study and a series of systematic visits to it, and careful inquiry of the neighbors, Ishmael looks for any way to arrive at an understanding of its purpose.

Perhaps New England hags had endeavored to delineate chaos bewitched? And what was that long, limber, portentous, black mass of something hovering in the centre of the picture, with its indefinite, half-attained, unimaginable sublimity? By oath, Ishmael had to find out what that marvellous painting meant. Could it be the breaking-up of the icebound stream of Time? Or maybe, maybe a whale?

Calling this smoky dark picture a portentous sublimity has perhaps a purpose, quietly introducing the main character. Ishmael shares with the curious reader "a final theory of his own, partly based upon the aggregated opinions of many aged persons with whom he conversed upon the subject." Perhaps it is the exasperated fish, able to crush a sailing vessel with his very size.

Past the whale painting, an array of strange and rare flotsam includes a harpoon that entered a whale at the tail and was found in its neck after migrating a full forty feet like a needle in the flesh. Sounds painful.

The bar may have been an inspiration for Star Wars, manufactured from the head of a right whale and dispensing poison. A little withered old Jonah, who, for their money, dearly sells the sailors deliriums and death in carefully made swindlers' tumblers. Bedarned and ragged, their beards stiff with icicles, the obstreperous whalers at the bar seemed an eruption of bears from Labrador.

So, when Mr. Coffin invites Ishmael to share the bed of a harpooner, there being no other room at the inn, it comes as no surprise that Ishmael made up his mind that "if it so turned out that we should sleep together, he must undress and get into bed before I did". Shades of Mr. Churchill's famous deprecation about naval tradition. Who could this suspicious harpooner be? Mr. Churchill's comment rears again when Mr Coffin explains the harpooner is "out a peddling, you see, and I don't see what on airth keeps him so late, unless, may be, he can't sell his head."

All of course is explained in a way that would avoid unwelcome enquiries from the censor, but you may wish to read the explanation yourself.

Image

Ishmael examines the painting: http://www.timothyvermeulen.com/portfol ... terInn.jpg


The comparison to Star wars is very funny, as is this entire scene between Ishmael and Mr. Coffin. Ishmael's bashfulness shows his lack of time on the high seas.



Tue Mar 06, 2012 11:51 am
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Post Re: Moby Dick Chapter 3. The Spouter-Inn.
Penelope wrote:
I did think the chapter was entertaining although, what made my skin creep, wasn't the fearsome image of Queequeg, but the thoughts of sharing a bed with a complete stranger. There were not the facilities for washing in those days, so lice and bedbugs would have been prevalent. I expect Queequeg's pipe of tobacco might have helped keep them at bay.

I thought the lead up to Ishmael's night with Queequeg, particularly the role of the innkeeper, was quite brilliant. The innkeeper played a great psychological game. Poor Ishmael was totally spooked even before he 'met' Queequeg. Also, I thought Melville treated Queequeg in a sympathetic manner, bringing out his humaness, although I admit the creepy factor was front and centre! My sense of this chapter is that Melville wants us to see Ishmael deal with difficult, even scary situations and/or dilemmas and I think have some fun with it as well.



Tue Jul 31, 2012 7:03 pm
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