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Moby Dick Chapter 32 Cetology 
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Post Moby Dick Chapter 32 Cetology
Link http://www.gutenberg.org/files/2701/270 ... m#2HCH0032

One for the dedicated. A long chapter describing all the known species in Melville's day, focussed on their utility for burning oil.

This chapter, often omitted in abridged versions of the novel, has its very own wikipedia page http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cetology_of_Moby-Dick

Quote:
I. Sperm whale (Physeter macrocephalus), the most important prey of Nantucket whaling fleet, which operated principally in the Pacific Ocean and Indian Ocean. The notorious fictional white whale Moby Dick in the novel is of this species, and is based on the real-life sperm whale Mocha Dick in the South Pacific in the 1840s. Because of lack of observations of the blue whale at that time, Melville asserts inaccurately that the sperm whale is the largest creature on Earth.
II. Right whale (several species of the genus Eubalaena of the family Balaenidae), also known simply as the Whale, the Greenland whale, the Black whale, the Great whale. Melville claims this whale was the first to be regularly hunted by human beings and is famously known for providing baleen, which was also known as "whalebone" at the time. The oil of this whale was commercially known as "whale oil" and was of inferior grade to that of the sperm whale. During the middle 19th century, it was the principal prey of the whaling fleets of the United Kingdom and the Netherlands, which operated largely in the North Atlantic and Arctic Ocean.

Contents
1 Description
2 Melville's classification
2.1 I. The Folio Whale
2.2 II. The Octavo Whale
2.3 III. The Duodecimo Whale

3 Beyond the Duodecimo


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Last edited by Robert Tulip on Thu Apr 19, 2012 5:26 am, edited 1 time in total.



Thu Apr 19, 2012 5:25 am
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Post Re: Moby Dick Chapter 32 Cetology
Ishmael knows the scientific reason to classify whales as mammals, but it makes him happier to ignore that and call the whale a fish. He's capricious in that way.



Thu Apr 19, 2012 6:28 am
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Post Re: Moby Dick Chapter 32 Cetology
DWill wrote:
Ishmael knows the scientific reason to classify whales as mammals, but it makes him happier to ignore that and call the whale a fish. He's capricious in that way.

This quality of Ishmael's is what makes him such an endearing narrator. I remember thinking while reading this chapter that Melville is obviously a very intelligent and thoughtful man, it is so funny that he has Ishmael list the characteristics of a mammal as he describes the whale and yet classifies it a fish! It made me wonder if at the time whales were categorized as fish.


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Post Re: Moby Dick Chapter 32 Cetology
Well he does mention Linneus (he spells it Linnaeus) and his reasons for categorizing whales as mammals. Linneus was a Swedish biologist who categorized them as mammals in 1778. I get confused sometimes as to who is speaking - Ismael of Melville. Melville published in 1851, perhaps it was not generally accepted then?


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Sat May 12, 2012 6:28 am
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Post Re: Moby Dick Chapter 32 Cetology
Melville is using the term 'fish' in a broader than botanical sense, in that we can fish for comments, for beche-de-mer, for pennies in a fountain, and for whales, none of which are botanically fish.

It is partly that whaling is now so foreign that people don't see it as a a form of fishing. Melville knows that whales are mammals, but he still calls them fish for convenience - if it waddles like a fish, quacks like a fish and can be converted into lucre like a fish, then it is a fish.

He is deliberately ambiguous regarding Ishmael as his alter ego, so we can generally assume that Ishmael is speaking for Melville himself.


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Sat May 12, 2012 9:31 pm
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Post Re: Moby Dick Chapter 32 Cetology
Yes thanks Robert. It makes the chapter much more interesting to re - read


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Sun May 13, 2012 5:14 am
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Post Re: Moby Dick Chapter 32 Cetology
Robert Tulip wrote:
Melville is using the term 'fish' in a broader thanbotanical sense, in that we can fish for comments, for beche-de-mer, for pennies in a fountain, and for whales, none of which are botanically fish.

Robert, I do not under stand your usuage of the botanical in the above sentence. I understanding your meaning, but to my understanding of the word it would be an incorrect ususage - botanical refers to plants. What am I missing?


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Sun May 13, 2012 5:44 am
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Post Re: Moby Dick Chapter 32 Cetology
Sorry, I meant biological. Saw the name of Linnaeus and just associated botanical. Finished reading the book today.


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Mon May 14, 2012 1:59 am
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Post Re: Moby Dick Chapter 32 Cetology
Robert Tulip wrote:
Sorry, I meant biological. Saw the name of Linnaeus and just associated botanical. Finished reading the book today.

:)


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