September 8, 2004

An Unassigned Reflection: Mr. Mel (ville)

Having read one page of Moby Dick and seeing the blessed tome fly unceremoniously to the floor two years ago, I swore off Melville forever.

However, with the assigned reading, which entitles myself to a forced reading of Mr. Mel (not to be confused with the other Mr. Mel), as I like to call him, I began to notice what an incredibly humorous fellow he was. Herman--so Munsters.

Bartelby, the Scrivner was the assigned text--and I know I am breaking one of my own rules by relating that this was assigned, but my most beloved readers know that I do not read this kind of stuff on my own, but obviously, as this blog demonstrates, I really did like this Melville creation.

What has happened to my writing style? I think he has rubbed off on me somehow.

Anyway, I should inform you that Bartelby is an employee at a law office that, when he does not wish to do something, says, "I would prefer not to."

The more astounding thing is that his employer does not fire him, but keeps him on, pitying him when he finds that he lives in the office and will not leave.

H'okay, so the plot is important, but the most attractive thing, as ironic as it seems, is the narrator. His voice, Melville's writing style. When the narrator mentions John Jacob Astor, for instance, I couldn't help laughing at his love of the name: John Jacob Astor: "I love to repeat, for it hath a rounded and orbicular sound to it, and rings like unto bullion." I would do something like this. I love repeating sounds and gestures that I find appealing and incorporating them into my own speech and behavior. However, in this passage, the lawyer does sound a bit like Mr. Collins in Pride and Prejudice, repeating the name of his patron. Mr. John Jacob Astor--Lady Catherine de Bourgh. I see definite similar characteristics.

When the narrator arrogantly implies that his employees are like horses in the statement, "In fact, precisely as a reash, resitive horse is said to feel his oats, so Turkey felt his coat. It made him insolent." As much as I laughed at this, I also felt the underlying sense of his condescension.

Just one more, I promise. Melville's dialogue cracked me up. "'All beer,' cried Turkey; 'gentleness is effects of beer--Nippers and I dined together tod-day. you see how gentle I am, sir. Shall I go black his eyes?"

What a hoot. Maybe I will give Moby one more try. Whoops, wrong link.

Posted by Amanda Cochran at September 8, 2004 1:44 PM

First Comment...Take that Noobies

Posted by: Stephan at September 8, 2004 4:06 PM

Moby Dick, eh??? Never read it...but if it was as dry as cardboard like this reading (Bartleby) was, I'll be sure to steer clear of that. ;)

Posted by: Rowdy at September 8, 2004 4:06 PM

I thought this one was MUCH better. Have you seen a volume of Moby Dick? HUGE. I think that scared me, and well, knocked over my hamper in the process (after flying through the air).

Posted by: Amanda at September 8, 2004 10:02 PM

I just came to cry that noone ever reads my poetry... they will read crappy and hackneyed political lamentations but not my loverly poems.
WAHHHHHHHH! ).'.: (long face) I feel better now!

Posted by: Evan at September 8, 2004 10:40 PM

A quotation often attributed to Dorothy Parker: "This book/novel is not to be tossed aside lightly. It should be hurled with great force."

(I've seen several different variations floating around the Internet, and haven't identified the source, or the novel being reviewed.)

Posted by: Dennis G. Jerz at September 9, 2004 9:59 AM

Should we explain what a blog whore is to Evan, Dr. Jerz? I think it is time. :-D

Posted by: Amanda at September 9, 2004 12:46 PM

One time I accidentally read "Bartleby" instead of "Benito Cereno" for a class, and I was mighty confused.

I also read Moby Dick in 3 days once, but that was just because I used to be a really bad procrastinator. :)

Overall, Bartleby is the best of the lot, IMHO.

Posted by: Julie at September 9, 2004 8:57 PM
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