Monday, July 13, 2009

In Search of Moby Dick: The Quest for the White Whale

an ethno-cultural-historio-contemporary-travel adventure kinda book

by Tim Severin

Pretty exciting and educational, especially the descriptions of the specialized hunting skills of the islanders Severin stays and speaks with. I appreciate that Severin isn't out to discredit Melville but to sort fact from fiction in the quest for determining if such a whale, or whales, such as Moby Dick existed, through his investigation of the various ways in which these whales have come to reside in maritime history, myth and legend, and the public imagination.

Severin is also interested in how Melville developed the tale of Moby Dick, how he arrived at/gleaned information and experience that informed the novel. As far as his encounters with and relationship to the islanders, Severin's writing comes across as mostly objective, respectful, allowing people, environments and situations to speak for themselves, in a sense...

Written in 2000, it's interesting, and disheartening, to consider how things have changed in the last 9 years that seemed to have negatively, rather than beneficially, impacted the islands' inhabitants and their cultures, particularly the loss of the substantial food source afforded by hunting whales. While local governments have been banning hunting and promoting whale watching instead, what efforts have been made to replace the loss of food and bartering material whales had provided?

In addition to how government changes are effecting/re-shaping these cultures, there have been fewer and fewer whales frequenting the waters around the islands in recent years...

1 comment:

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