CNN - MOBY DICK IS VERY 2019
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David Shaerf hits the nail on the head in so many ways in such a short article. You'll not appreciate his take on one of the greatest works of American literature, until you've overcome the word barrier, put the book down and picked it up some years later with more life experience for greater situation identification.
The critics at the time of release in 1851 had not realised the importance of Moby Dick, or the genius of the writer in creating such an imaginative story from a mixture of real life experience and factual sinkings by catalogued sperm whales. The cauldron of entwined observations, takes mores than one, or several reads to appreciate.
Along with so many, I was first subjected to "Moby-Dick" when I was still a teenager, being forced to read it as part of an American literature survey course. I was not a fan of
it - I certainly could never have anticipated I would one day make a film about it. I
thought it was a laborious read. Its narrative was glacially slow, and the titular antagonist doesn't even make an appearance until the final pages of the novel. I resented the book and was quite glad to put it down and (hopefully) never touch it again.
My desire to delve deeper into the world of "Moby-Dick" led me to embark on a documentary film project speaking to the community of people who carry on the legacy of Melville's masterwork. While I was filming "Call Us Ishmael," I went to the New Bedford Whaling Museum where there is an annual marathon reading of the book. Patrons of the museum spend a full 24 hours reading their well-thumbed copies out loud to one another. It's an opportunity for those who share this obsessive love of the book to connect with one another - like a family reunion, almost.
Here's something you may not know: "Moby-Dick" is hilarious, as well as moving. It's also an important book as we stand here in 2019.
Gregory Peck gave an outstanding performance as Captain Ahab, in the 1956 movie: Moby Dick. He'll take a lot of beating. If they were to combine the special effects of In the Heart of the Sea, with someone as powerful as Gregory Peck to play a new Captain Ahab, we'd be in for a treat. There had been a lot of in between movies of Titanic and King Kong, before they finally made the fantastic CGI versions that have us almost believing that Leonardo and Kate were on the fated ship - that keeps rising from the deep - and sinking again, or that Naomi Watts (understandably) had a thing for the big ape as the toughest male on Skull Island.
Thursday is the 200th birthday of Herman Melville, celebrated author of "Moby-Dick." As a young man, Melville worked on a whaleship in the Pacific. During his travels he heard the story of a whale that rammed and sunk the Whaleship Essex. It was this woeful tale that he had in mind when he began writing "Moby-Dick."
It was long after his passing in 1891, in the 1920s, that Melville's novel became part of the literary conversation as a classic, standing alongside the likes of The Odyssey, Don Quixote and so many more - a book cherished by many, though likely read by fewer. As Melville turns 200, his work is still resonant and perhaps even more meaningful in 2019 than it was during his own lifetime.
There is something ostensibly prophetic about the text of "Moby-Dick." While Melville wrote the book ensconced in the bucolic mid-19th century New England countryside, reading the book today it feels like a contemporary piece of literary fiction. Melville covers topics such as race and religion, gender and sexuality, environmentalism and politics in ways that seem much more aligned with contemporary sensibilities than the more puritanical mindset that prevailed during Melville's lifetime.
As Melville turns 200, I think about "Moby-Dick" and its relevancy today. There's an aura around "Moby-Dick" for those who haven't read it. It's an intimidating book -- its reputation of being impenetrable is unwarranted, but still ever-present. Why is that? I think, at least in part, this is to do with the book having been a required reading at high schools across the US for so long. Even the most renowned Melville scholars I interviewed in "Call Us
Ishmael" talked of having negative experiences with the novel upon first encounter. For a book so lush, filled with humor and philosophical digressions, perhaps some of this can be lost on the younger reader.
Herman Melville was the author of a novel abut what we'd now consider an illegal activity; the commercial hunting of whales for oil and meat. In capturing the whaling industry at its peak, showcasing the rebellious white whale, in our view he was lobbying for the whales, the innocent victims in his story. Following his death in New York City in 1891, some thirty years later, he posthumously came to be regarded as one of the great American writers.
CNN (Cable News Network) is an American news-based pay television channel owned by CNN Worldwide, a unit of the WarnerMedia News & Sports division of AT&T's WarnerMedia. CNN was founded in 1980 by American media proprietor Ted Turner and Reese Schonfeld as a 24-hour cable news channel.
Upon its launch in 1980, CNN was the first television channel to provide 24-hour news coverage, and was the first all-news television channel in the United States.
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Bartleby, the Scrivener
Herman Melville was born in New York City on the 1st of August 1819. He died on the 28th of September 1891. He was an American novelist, short story writer and poet of the American Renaissance period. Among his best-known works are Moby-Dick (1851), Typee (1846), a romanticized account of his experiences in Polynesia, and Billy Budd, Sailor, a posthumously published novella. The centennial of his birth in 1919 was the starting point of a Melville revival, when Moby-Dick began to be considered one of the great American novels.
Herman Melville's Moby Dick, is the story of a great white sperm whale that fought back at whalers who tried to harpoon him. The idea came to Herman Melville after he spent time on a commercial whaler, where stories abounded of the sinking of the Essex in 1821 and Mocha Dick, a giant sperm whale that sank around 20 ships, before being harpooned in 1838.
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