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What happened to the recap for Chapters 23-31? Did I miss it somehow? Also yes, the book is as slippery as the whale.

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I really expected to find the section where Ish explains the different types of whales to be a massive snooze fest. I was pleasantly surprised to find it entertaining instead. He reminds me of a person who likes to watch the local wildlife out his window and passionately explains on some reddit forum that trash panda is a much more accurate name for racoons and anyone who disagrees with him is just wrong (Huzza Porpoise, anyone?)

In particular, I got a kick out of his distaste for the Greenland Whale and his glee that the sperm whale's superiority is finally getting acknowledged. "hear ye! good people all,—the Greenland whale is deposed,—the great sperm whale now reigneth!"

He really is channeling the spirit of the internet generation in the footnote about pig-fish being considered whales " But as these pig-fish are a noisy, contemptible set, mostly lurking in the mouths of rivers, and feeding on wet hay, and especially as they do not spout, I deny their credentials as whales; and have presented them with their passports to quit the Kingdom of Cetology." - it is reminiscent of those of us stubborn enough to refuse to acknowledge that Pluto is no longer considered a planet by scientists. Is it just me who feels like he would fit in? Cetology feels like a precursor to a Buzzfeed listicle, especially from the way he assigns personalities to the different types of whales - razor backs are "of a retiring nature", Sulpher Bottom (which also sounds made up tbh) are "retiring gentleman", Huzza Porpoises (lol) are "full of fine spirits" and "the lads that always live before thewind", Algernine Porpoises are pirates, and of course, the description of the "Mealy-mouthed Porpoise" - "he is of quite a neat and gentleman-like figure.....he has a lovely tail, and sentimental Indian eyes of a hazel hue. But his mealy-mouth spoils all......The white comprises part of his head, and the whole of his mouth, which makes him look as if he had just escaped from a felonious visit to a meal-bag. A most mean and mealy aspect!"

I think my favorite part of this section is, when discussing Narwhales and the purpose of their horns, Ish is of the opinion that "it would certainly be very convenient to him for a folder in reading pamphlets". :D

My favorite part of the second set of chapters has to be "Flask, alas! was a butterless man!" Poor Flask, doomed to be butterless. Although I also enjoyed Ish's confession of being a terrible lookout - aren't we all guilty of daydreaming during parts of the work day? It was infinitely relatable.

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Jul 12, 2022·edited Jul 12, 2022

I absolutely loved Cetology! As I was reading it, the literature academic in me immediately started thinking about how this would be a great addition to an essay about Melville's interest in publishing at the time. My book history professor in grad school had an 1856 (I think? it may have been 1854) edition of Moby Dick, where the only thing that had been changed from the 1851 printing was the number on the year that it was printed. Only a couple hundred copies were printed in 1856, and the 6 in the year is a different font than the rest of the text. Melville had invested so much into the publication of this book, so he talked a lot with his publisher to get reprints done in attempts to flood the market. It did not work in his lifetime, but Melville's relationship with his publisher and with the publishing industry is evident in the number of early editions of Moby Dick that were printed.

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