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#Classic Max Havelaar

  •  Author: Eduard Douwes Dekker (Multatuli) (1820 – 1887)
  •  Genre: novel (satire)
  • Title: Max Havelaar ( Language: Dutch)
  • Published: 1860
  • Table of Contents: 20 chapters, 315
  • Timeline: 1842 ( Sumatra). 1856 (Lebak) 1860 (Amsterdam)
  • Setting: Dutch East Indies
  • Trivia: E. Douwes Dekker was one of Sigmund Freud’s favorite writers.
  • List of Challenges 2019
  • Monthly reading plan



  1. Eduard Douwes Dekker is better known by his pen name Multatuli.
  2. It is from latin ‘multa tuli’ meaning I have suffered much.
  3. This is a satire denouncing  the abuses
  4. …of  colonialism in the Dutch East Indies (Indonesia).
  5. 1838 Douwes Dekker became a civil servant in Java.
  6. All the secrets of Dutch administration were known to him.
  7. Disgusted with the actions of the Dutch in Java,
  8. …he had begun to about the abuses.
  9. Threatened with dismissal from
  10. …his office for his openness of speech.
  11. Dekker resigned his appointment.
  12. He returned to the Netherlands and wrote this
  13. scathing criticism of Dutch colonialism.
  14. In 2002 the Society of Dutch Literature proclaimed
  15. ….Multatuli the most important Dutch writer of all time



  • This is a  grim depiction of life in a European colony, namely Indonesia.
  • The description of web of hypocrisy of church-going Dutch.
  • …and the repression of the natives under their rule endure.
  • The Dutch derived benefits from others misery.
  • Max Havelaar was  beacon of hope.
  • He was in a position of unquestionable power, Assistant-Resident.
  • Havelaar struggled with the colonial government  leaders ….to no avail.


Theme:  exploitation;  colonialism


TitleDubble  title “Max Havelaar or Coffee Auctions Dutch Trade Company”

  1. I had to research this information
  2. … would never have caught my eye!
  3. Irony: the title tells  Mr. Droogstoppel that this book contains
  4. …information that  he would be interested in: coffee auctions.
  5. He agrees to  finance the  rewriting of a final draft and publication of the book
  6. But it appears that there is nothing in the book about coffee or the Dutch Trade Company!


  1. The author  misled Droogstoppel  and the reading public!
  2. In 1860 coffee and trade were in the news.
  3. Multatuli wanted to have his book read. (pg 57)
  4. “Mijn boek moet de wereld in!”
  5. He was probably the  first Dutch “whistleblower” !
  6. He used this  ‘clever piece of irony’
  7. …to capture the public’s  interest.
  8. Multatuli  TRICKED  the readers with a dubble title.
  9. He lured them to buy the book and
  10. revealed the abuses he thought must be made public.


Narrators:  3 characters

  • Droogstoppel:  coffee broker at Last & Co.
  • Stern:  assistant Last & Co.  ( = author  Multatuli)
  • Sjaalman: is thecharacter of Max Havelaar incognito in Amsterdam.


Structure: frame  story (stories-within-stories)

  1. Story:  Commentary in journals of Max Havelaar who abhors the exploitation of the  Dutch East Indies natives.
  2. Story:  Havelaar returns to Amsterdam with his exposé in rough draft and wants it to be published.
  3. Story: In the last chapter:
  • Multatuli, the author himself,  takes over the narrative.
  • Droogstoppel is written ‘out of the book’.
  • Multatuli writes what he wants to achieve.
  • He wants the readers to share his outrage.


Breaking the 4th wall

  • Multatuli speaks directly to the reader and ‘confronts’ him.
  • Speaking to the reader acknowledges that this is a book or a story.


Unreliable narrator

  • Mr. Droogstoppel  coffee broker  is characterized by exaggeration and bragging.
  • Multatuli satirizes the coffee merchant, Droogstoppel, by simply letting him speak!



  • The use of words to convey the opposite of their literal meaning.
  • Droogstoppel tells the reader ( pg 18)  that the Dutch are successful because:
  • …they  conduct business honorably and maintain exemplary Christian beliefs.
  • Irony: Mutatuli reveals that the Dutch say one thing in public and act differently in business!
  • Droogstoppel gossips about other business partner’s family. (pg 25)
  • Irony: But reminds us that he  would never knowingly slander anybody!



  • There are some great examples of humor in Multatuli’s writing:
  • The repetition in Droogstoppel’s  emphatic dialogue
  • reminding the reader that he always speaks the truth
  • ” heus de zuivere waarheid” (pg 24)  and
  • conducts himself at all times with civility
  • fatsoen gaat voor mijn boven alles” ( pg 31).
  • In a bouncing carriage over a hobbley road  Multatuli brings the choppy conversation
  • before our eyes with one-word sentences.  You can just hear it!
  • I. Did. Not. Dare.To. Agree.
  • ” Ik. Durfde. Het. Haar. Niet. Toezeggen.” ! (pg 101)



  1. Weak point:
  2. This book was complicated with its intricate narrative structure.
  3. There is no chronological order, many flashbacks and 3 narrators.
  4. Weak point:
  5. Many pages of out-of-date  style of dialogue which  makes the reading difficult.
  6. Strong point:
  7. The shock effect caused by the author  in chapter 20.
  8. This was his pulpit. It would be his  chance to send a message to the Dutch and the world.
  9. Multatuli refers to the barbaric division in American society on pg 103.
  10. He must have read Uncle Tom’s Cabin (1852, H.B. Stowe) that exposed the abuse in USA.
  11. Multatuli shares Stowe’s social realism in his writing of Max Havelaar.


Last thoughts:

  1. I could relate to this book because
  2. of my knowledge of the ‘Dutch mentality’.
  3. I wonder if this book would appeal to
  4. a wider audience outside The Netherlands.
  5. I read the book in Dutch
  6. I liked the book but a recommendation to read it
  7. …..that’s a hard call.
  8. Dutch is the 7th most spoken language in Europe..
  9. The study of foreign languages
  10. …is simply the gift that keeps on giving.




#Play Waiting For Godot



  1. Reading time: 1 hour 40 min
  2. Waiting for Godot  is theater of absurd.
  3. Beckett thought the audience
  4. …MUST feel what it is like to be in an ABSURD world.
  5.  Beckett used bizarre characters speak in what sometimes
  6. …appears to be illogical, banal, chit chat.
  7. One cannot read Godot for the story because there is no story
  8. Waiting for Godot does not tell a story
  9. It explores a situation….2 tramps..waiting for Godot.
  10. What are the abusrd characteristics?
  11. No plot, no recognizable characters, no beginnings no ends,
  12. …reflections of dreams and nightmares, incoherent babblings.


Last Thoughts:

  1. The only way to gain any insight is to
  2. read a summary before starting this play.
  3. I used this LINK at Free Online Dictionary website.
  4. This is an excellent summary.
  5. Waiting for Godot
  6. …left critics bewildered and is now a classic.
  7. Nr. 7 on List 50 Best Play in Past 100 yrs.
  8. I was absolutely dreading this play...
  9. Need #Heineken






#AWW 2019: Robin Dalton



  1. Aunts up the Cross is about Daltons’s childhood with her
  2. eccentric extended family in Sydney’s Kings Cross.
  3. Her father was an open-all-hours doctor, known affectionately as “the gun doc”.
  4. Dr Eakin,  Mrs. Eakin,  Nana….and the close relationship the author had
  5. …with Aunt Bertie and  Aunt Juliet.
  6. Robin Dalton  is now 99…and still going strong!
  7. I loved this quote I found…
  8. Being old is not a problem, and the future not really a consideration:
  9. “I haven’t got a future, I’m practically tottering off the edge …”



  1. I haven’t laughed so much about a book in years!
  2. This is an absolute gem!
  3. Tears of laughter while reading the theatrics the Eakin’s supper table.
  4. Tony ‘the bookmaker’ McGill is seated next to Mrs. Eakin’s aged governess Sally.
  5. Suddenly Tony unabashedly makes Sally ‘an offer she can’t refuse’! (…read the book!)
  6. Robin Dalton’s father was a tease
  7. .….and the book if filled with his practical jokes!
  8. But nothing, no nothing can compare to
  9. …the laughter I enjoyed while reading
  10. Mrs. Eakin killed the plumber and
  11. ..the best joke about a fish  I have heard in YEARS!
  12. All can be found in …chapter 3…and much more!
  13. No spoilers….just a enthusiastic recommendation
  14. Aunts Up the Cross!
  15. Light, funny memoir…perfect book
  16. to lazily sit in the garden with a G&T…and laugh!
  17. You can read it in a few hours, just 142 pages!
  18. #Hysterical!

#Classic: Essays by Montaigne



  1. Michel de Montaigne  explores the human condition
  2. …in a very personal and clever manner.
  3. His essays chart the course of 20 yr of self-investigation.
  4. He pretends to most of the vices.
  5. If there be any virtue in him, he says, it got in by stealth.



  1. I enjoyed the most personal essays:
  2. Book I
  3. This selection of essays is ‘the hook’.
  4. They are personal and frank.
  5. Unfortunately there are also many essay in
  6. book II and III  …. I consider ‘duds’.

Happiness not be judged until after our death
Educating children

Book II

  1. …including 140 pages entitled “Apology for Raymond Sebond’
  2. The “Apology for Raymond Sebond” is
  3. three times as long as any other essay that Montaigne wrote
  4. The essay has been seen as an attack on authoritrian religion and
  5. a covert threat to Christian faith.
  6. It was a slog to listen to….and
  7. I just started to do some household chores
  8. …and let the words go in one ear and out the other!
  9. This essay sticks out like a sour thumb
  10. If you encounter this essay and feel as I did
  11. …just skip it!


Affection of fathers for children
On resemblence of children to fathers


Book III (…there were only 3 essays I liked)


Last thoughts

  1. Montaigne is the frankest and honestest of all writers.
  2. He does have opinions that still ring true today.
  3. Strong point: Montaigne writes about themes that charm the
  4. reader ( see my list of favorites).
  5. We relate to them.
  6. Strong point: Montaigne’s style is not dry….but daring
  7. …filled with depth and witty observations.
  8. Weak point: don’t approach these essays expecting
  9. that they are an easy read (21st C standard)…they are not!
  10. The book was published 1580 and
  11. …written to one sex only.
  12. A certain nakedness of statement was permitted
  13. …which our manners of a literature addressed
  14. …equally to both sexes, do not allow.
  15. Montaigne could have used the advice of one of his
  16. favorite authors:
  17. “The eloquence that diverts us  to itself harms its content.” (Seneca)
  18. #SomeEssaysBoring

#Classic: Hamlet



  1. Lovers:  Ophelia and Hamlet
  2. Focus: revenge – the obsession to avenge can drive one mad
  3. Family issue: Uncle kills Hamlet’s father and marries his mother (yikes!)
  4. Plot twist: ghost of King Hamlet wants revenge. Triggers entire play!
  5. Hook: Ghost in Act 1…all acts end with cliffhangers!!
  6. Genre:  Revenge play
  7. Pivotal acts:  Act 3 and Act 5
  8. Soliloquies:  7 spoken by Hamlet
  9. Tragic flaw Hamlet: overthinks everything! “To be or not to be…” (Act 3, 1)
  10. Villian: Claudius manipulative, ruthless
  11. Ophelia: weak character compared to Desdamona!
  12. Minor character who plays major role: Laertes
  13. Symbol: poison (weapon, manipulation and madness)
  14. Motif: spying (eavesdropping) to seek truth)
  15. Spies: Hamlet, Horatio, Reynaldo, Rosencrantz, Guildenstern, Polonius, King Claudius
  16. Victims: Queen, King, Ophelia, Hamlet, Laertes
  17. Shakespeare’s statement: “What a piece of work is man!” (Act 2, 2)
  18. Setting:  Elsinore Castle, Danish coast, graveyard
  19. Major themesrevenge, madness. death. appearance vs reality
  20. Minor themesambition, corruption
  21. …”Something is rotten in the state of Denmark”  (Act 1, 4)
  22. Body count: 9
  23. King Hamlet (before play starts)
  24. Queen Gertrude
  25. King Claudius
  26. Polonius
  27. Rosencrantz
  28. Guildenstern
  29. Ophelia
  30. Laertes
  31. Hamlet
  32. The only main character left
  33. …standing at the end is Horatio,
  34. …who is usually seen sitting on the ground,
  35. …cradling Hamlet’s corpse.
  36. So technically, he’s not standing.
    1 drowning
    2 beheadings
    1 simple stabbing
    2 simple poisonings and
    3 aggravated stabbings (poisoned blade/some poison)
  37. Now that’s what I call a tragedy!


Trend:   Theme: illusion vs reality

  1. In Midsummer Night’s Dream, Othello and Hamlet
  2. ….Shakespeare uses this theme to drive the plot.
  3. I will be looking at other plays by WS to see if he repeats this theme.
  4. Midsummer Night’s Dream: play-in-play (illusion)….is also used in Hamlet
  5. Othello: it appears Desdemona is having an affair ( lost handkerchief)…she is not.
  6. Hamlet: it appears Hamlet is in a legitimate duel…he is not, sword is poison tipped
  7. Hamlet: Claudius appears to be praying on his knees…he is not.
  8. Hamlet: Claudius must appear to be guiltless in death of Hamlet…he is not.
  9. Hamlet: Killing Hamlet must appear to be an accident….it is not, it is premeditated


Last thoughts:

  1. I have been avoiding this play for years
  2. …too difficult, complex plot.
  3. Finally I can strike this play off my Bucket List!
  4. I ordered the Kenneth Branagh’s film  Hamlet (1996)
  5. It is the only version that includes the complete text
  6. …nominated for the Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay
  7. …and is 4 hours long.
  8. #GetOutThePopcorn

#Classic: Beowulf



  1. Plot:  Beowulf  relates the adventures of its Scandinavian hero,
  2. at the same time presenting a detailed description of
  3. the life and mood of the age during which it was written.
  4. Epic in a nutshell:
  5. Monster kills human – Grendel kills Danes in Herot
  6. Human kills monster – Beowulf kills Grendel
  7. Monster kills human – Grendel’s mother kills Esher
  8. Human kills monster – Beowulf kills Grendel’s mother
  9. Human and Monster  – kill each other
  10. Motif: quest for personal glory
  11. Major Theme: Good vs Evil…slaying of monsters and dragon
  12. Minor theme: Beowulf’s friendships… with King Hrothgar and Wiglaf (warrior)
  13. Question: Why so swords have names? Heruntling, Nagling



  1. I found the translation
  2. …by Seamus Heaney breathtaking!
  3. Strong point: crystalline alliteration!
  4. line 209:
  5. “…the warrior boarded the boat as captain,
  6. a canny pilot along coast and currents.
  7. Strong point: Heaney taps into his vivid vocabulary
  8. …and his writing  is designed to draw the reader
  9. effortlessly from page to page through
  10. …this Medieval classic epic poem!
  11. I was not prepared for such an enjoyable read!
  12. But I must advise any reader to gather the
  13. basic story lines by reading a summary (wikipedia)
  14. before reading the poem.
  15. IMO..the story is simple and  not the best
  16. part of the poem.
  17. It is Heaney’s choice of words ...his translation
  18. …that brings Beowulf  life!


Last thoughts:

  1. If you are interested in studying Medieval Literature
  2. …Beowulf is a #MustRead
  3. If not…it STILL is a must read!.
  4. Tip: there is a great family tree illustration in this book!
  5. You can’t read this poem without it!
  6. In the film Annie Hall, Diane Keaton confesses to Woody Allen
  7. her interest in attending some college classes.
  8. Allen is supportive, and has this bit of advice:
  9. “Just don’t take any course where you have to read Beowulf.
  10. I had to laugh when I read that!
  11. I don’t agree with Woody Allen…..
  12. #Classic  for all to enjoy!

#Classic: The Mill on the Floss


Finished: 09.02.2019
Genre: novel
Rating: C
#AudioBook  19 hr  – narrator Eileen Atkins



  1. This book has been on my TBR since 2010!
  2. I have finally read this auto-biographical classic by G. Eliot.
  3. Spanning over a period of 10 years,
  4. The Mill on the Floss follows the coming of age of the
  5. …beautiful and idealistic Maggie
  6. …as she experiences family tragedy, forbidden love and
  7. the wrath of the English patriarchy.
  8. The 1+2 books were a (too) long exposition of
  9. family and childhood Maggie and brother Tom.
  10. Eliot in part 1 wants to expose the differences between brother and sister.
  11. TOM: “I’d do just the same again.” That was his usual mode of viewing his past actions.
  12. MAGGIE: Maggie was always wishing she had done something different.
  13. TOM: “Yes, you’re silly; but I never do forget things, I don’t.” (holds grudges like his father)
  14. MAGGIE: “I’d forgive you, if you forgot anything–I wouldn’t mind what you did–I’d forgive you…”
  15. TOM: …instinctive discernment of what would turn to his advantage or disadvantage
  16. MAGGIE: rushed to her deeds with passionate impulse.
  17. Theme: forgiveness is the thread throughout the  book
  18. Book 3 – 5 reveals adult loves and friendships
  19. Part 6 – must be one of the longest ‘break-up’s in literature!
  20. Part 7 – the river is the symbol of life and death.
  21. I was impressed by Eliot’s writing but needed
  22. a combination of audio listen and download book
  23. ….to keep me reading through long, long (preachy) speeches by Maggie.
  24. #Classic but you have to be committed to finish it!

#Classic: Heart of Darkness



  1. Despite my restraint (book embargo) I still bought
  2. 5 classic books in January.
  3. I was disappointed….not having enough self-control.
  4. The plan for February is to read as many classics as
  5. I can….on my IPOD!
  6. There are 20 audio classics just waiting for me.
  7. The Heart of Darkness has been on TBR since 2017.



  1. Love triangles:  none
  2. Women: Kurtz’ fiancée in Brussels and native mistress in Congo
  3. Major characters: Marlow and Kurtz 
  4. Minor character: “The Russian” (…very irritating Russian accent on audio book)
  5. Genre: Gothic horror novella
  6. Plot twists: no twists or turns only the the idea of
  7. ‘what is going to happen’ kept me reading
  8. POV: unnamed narrator (1st pers) tells the reader about
  9. Marlow telling his story also as 1st person narrator (frame POV)
  10. Title: The Heart of Darkness: interiour workings of the mind
  11. Symbol: journey up Congo River =  sin
  12. Symbol: journey down Congo River = redemption
  13. Structure: 3 parts
  14. present day London/Belgium
  15. journey from Congo Central station –> to Kurtz up the Congo River
  16. return to Europe and a meeting with Kurtz’ fiancée
  17. Message: obsession that drives its victim (Kurtz) beyond the limits of humanity
  18. Message: the darkness of the human heart…man’s capacity for evil.
  19. Setting: London –> Belgium –> Congo –> Belgium
  20. Major theme: madness, moral corruption
  21. Minor themes: racism, violence
  22. Body count: 2 (Kurtz and helmsman)
  23. Conrad’s statement: cynical, critical take on European Imperialism



  1. This was NOT my favorite Conrad novel/novella.
  2. I had to force myself to sit down an listen to this audio book.
  3. Part 1 started with lyrical descriptions of moon, sea, mist, light
  4. that  initially hooked me to keep reading.
  5. Unfortunately these were the only beautiful descriptions in the book IMO.
  6. Part 2: chaotic description of a steamship struggling to creep up river.
  7. Part 3: climax:  Marlow and Krutz finally meet.
  8. Conrad did me a favor and described his book for me
  9. with his comments about Kurtz’ pamphlet:
  10. vibrating with eloquence…but too high strung”.
  11. This book is Conrad’s way of asking ourselves
  12. …if we would have the courage like Kurtz to peer over
  13. …the edge of the abyss:  “The horror, the horror”.


Last thoughts:

  1. Conrad captured something about the way power
  2. operated across continents and race.
  3. I would highly recommend the award winning
  4. book Congo by David Reybourck. (2014)
  5. It is a gripping epic imperialistic policy of the Belgians in Congo.
  6. . . . more exciting than the novel The Heart of Darkness!


Favorite quote:

Part 1:
Watching the coast…is like thinking about an enigma
There it is before you smiling, frowning, inviting,
grand, mean, insipid or savage and always mute with an air of whisper
‘Come and find out.’


#Classic: The Twelve Caesars (Suetonius)


Quickscan:      List of Roman Emperors



  1. This is not a book that I would choose to snuggle up with
  2. on a cold winter day. Thus I decided to listen to the audio book.
  3. I could keep doing my chores….etc and still absorb the
  4. tidbits of history that I did not know!
  5. 50 % of the book is about the first 3 Caesars:
  6. Julius, Augustus, Tiberius  chapters 1-18
  7. Audio book 40 chapters (20 min per chapter)
  8. Roman emperor was a risky job:  only 3 died of natural causes
  9. …the rest were assassinated or committed suicide!


Julius Caesar  (reigned 5 years)

  1. He wore laurel crowns as often as possible.
  2. The wreath suited Caesar especially well with
  3. the green leaves hiding his balding head.
  4. It was good to be reminded that Servilia (b.104 BC, d. 42 BC)
  5. was just a wicked as Livia was
  6. during her relationship with Augustus Caesar.
  7. Livia remains in my memory in TV series I, Claudius.
  8. Servilla came be seen in TV series Rome.
  9. The series I, Claudius NEVER showed
  10. …the audience the sadistic cruelty of Tiberius!
  11. You have to read about it to believe it!


Augustus Caesar (reigned 40 years)

  1. Father: Gaius Otavius (politician) but he died when AC was 4 years old.
  2. Adopted father: Julius Caesar.
  3. Wives: each of these marriages lasted 2 yr Clodia, Scribonia
  4. Livia was here to stay.
  5. She was a shrewd woman,  23 yr marriage, no children, 1 miscarriage.
  6. Augustus also divided city regions and districts,
  7. …appointed nightly watch against fires (sort of fire brigade).
  8. Calendar: Augustus was  born in September named 8th month August
  9. because in this month he received his first council ship.
  10. Lists: These pages about Augustus Caesar is a long list of achievements:
  11. circus games, gladiators, laws, allocating corn
  12. exhibiting curiosities: rhino, tiger and extremely long snake!
  13. Lists: of omens Augustus Caesar believed to foreshadow trouble (2 crows attack an eagle!)
  14. As soon as Livia comes on the scene
  15. ….the narrative becomes more interesting.
  16. After watching the TV series I, Claudius
  17. I could apply a face (actor, actress) to many names!
  18. Julia: Daughter is banished for 5 years for her lewd behavior.
  19. Strong point: personal habits were described
  20. …negligent in dress, took afternoon naps with his shoes always on!
  21. Augustus  slept in the same chamber on Palatine Hill for 40 years.
  22. His private room where he was NOT to be
  23. disturbed (top floor Palatine Hill home) called “Syracuse”.


Tiberius pg 104 (reigned 22 years)

  1. He was emperor Augustus Caesar’s successor.
  2. Augustus  adopted Tiberius (his mother was Livia AC’s 2nd wife)
  3. Tiberius was a reluctant emperor!
  4. Livia (mother) demanded equal share of power.
  5. Mother and son parted on bad terms.
  6. When she died Tiberius annulled her will and did not grieve his loss!
  7. Daughter-in-law Agrippina the Elder
  8. claimed Tiberius had her husband Germanicus murdered.
  9. Germanicus was Tiberius’ nephew AND adopted son.
  10. Tiberius banished her to the island of Pandateria.
  11. …and ordered a centurion to beat out one of her eyes!
  12. Tiberius was not finished yet….
  13. He starved his 2 (adoptive) grandsons to death.
  14. Tiberius was sadist…deriving pleasure from cruelty.
  15. In one day 20 people (men, women and boys) were killed flung down
  16. the Gemonian Stairs (steps located in the ancient city of Rome)
  17. …and then dragged into the Tiber River.
  18. He put a centurion to death for stealing a peacock out of his orchard!
  19. #Ouch




  1. I took notes about the first 3 Caesars.
  2. You can discover the other rulers yourself!
  3. This was an excellent overview of these emperors
  4. The book solidified my understanding of the
  5. Julio-Claudian (27 BC-68 AD)
  6. Flavian dynasties (68-96 AD)
  7. Audio book narrator:  Charles Griffin (excellent).
  8. The writing is clear, simple and easy to understand.
  9. Strong point:
  10. Insights into the social and political order of the times
  11. …and the psychology of these powerful yet flawed individuals.
  12. I loved the music played between chapters….imperial!


Last thoughts:

  1. Roman emperors are not known as being compassionate
  2. …but Emperor Vespasian was the exception!
  3. If you like historial fiction perhaps you would like Lindsey Davis’
  4. The Course of Honour.
  5. The love story of Vespasian and his mistress
  6. …the freed slave woman Antonia Caenis.
  7. This book recreates Ancient Rome’s most turbulent period.



#Classic: Moby Dick


Quickscan:    Mixture  of plots:

1. Overcoming the Monster: (the White Whale)
3. Quest: (Destroy the White Whale)
4. Voyage and Return: (whaling trip on the Pequod)
5. Comedy: (Stubb dialogue)
6. Tragedy: (Dead of Queeseg)
7. Rebirth:  Ishmael (character survives  after so many perils)
9. Rebellion against the one: (Starbuck thinks of killing Ahab to save ship/crew)



Characters:   my favorites….


  1. The narrator in the book, not only relaying the story
  2. …but going on at length about whale facts and
  3. various philosophical questions.


  1. He demonstrates that despite one’s appearance
  2. people have more in common than they believe.
  3. Queequg also brings life through death. (coffin is float for survival)


Secret motto:

  1. Ego non baptizo te in nomine patris, sed in nomine diaboli!
  2. Ahab howls these words as harpoon iron is devoured the baptismal blood.
  3. ”I baptize thee, not in the name of the Father, but in the name of the Devil.”
  4. Captain Ahab is speaking to his harpoon as it tastes whale blood for the first time.
  5. The quote is significant because Herman Melville wrote to his
  6. …friend Nathaniel Hawthorne that
  7. ..the line was the book’s secret motto.



  1. On the most basic level, the White Whale in the novel
  2. is the object of Ahab’s obsession.
  3. Everything in the plot of Moby-Dick is directed
  4. …toward the final, tragic confrontation between
  5. …Ahab, his crew, and the White Whale.
  6. The White Whale wins the fight.
  7. Ahab and nearly the entire crew of the Pequod die.
  8. The fact that the White Whale cannot be beaten
  9. ….contributes to the way it is used as a symbol.
  10. Power of Moby Dick is symbolic of God.
  11. Symbol of a force man cannot defeat.
  12. Pursuit of God: Ahab purses God in a manner driven by hate
  13. vengeance rather than something peaceful.


Last thoughts:

  1. Ch 1-54  is worth the read….but then I hit a wall!
  2. Ch 55-100….it was a ‘touch and go’ endeavor to keep reading!
  3. There’s a lot of scrimshaw and blubber!
  4. The last 30 chapters finally capture my attention again.
  5. This book would be much improved
  6. without the whaling tutorial! (ch 56)
  7. Sometimes tiresome and challenging
  8. is a compliment about a classic book.
  9. It’s like climbing a mountain….hard work
  10. …but the view is terrific when you get to the top!
  11. Now…the view from the top
  12. …wasn’t worth the hike.
  13. #YouHaveBeenWarned


My notes:

November 29, 2018

Learning some basic concepts that play an important role in Moby Dick

Metaphysical – concept focused on the theories of human nature
Transcendentalism – people and nature were inherently good
Melville mixes his love of metaphysics + adventure story.
Melville creates well rounded characters
…who have a good and a
…..”dark side” (obsession with a whale).
December 1,  2018
I know this book will be a challenge…but I am ready for it!
The first paragraph describes my start
“…whenever it is a damp, drizzly November in my soul…”.

December 2, 2018

Slowly moving forward:

Moby Dick covers just about every concept
we read about in books: revenge, death, duty,
freewill vs fate, friendship, madness…
the book feels like the gold-standard for all other novels I’ve read!

December 6, 2018

Starting ch 28 ….now we finally meet Ahab!

December 7, 2018

30 pages a day…

December 11, 2018

Ch 70: I pushed through ch 54-70 which is more or less

a tutorial on whales, harpooning,
the blubber room and why sharks love whale meat!
Ch 1-54 is a good narrative….I expect once we get back to the conflict
…Ahab vs Moby Dick on the high seas.
..the book will recapture its adventerous tone!
December 15, 2018

Ch 94: More whaling…stay away from whale spuits,

fin back whales look similar to sperm whale.
..don’t be fooled!
Knives in blubber room are so sharp
…crew could slice off toes. Jick.
The only chapter with some narrative was
about the man on ship Jerpboam
…who thought he was the angel Gabriel.

January 9, 2019

Finshed during the Christmas holidays.