Wednesday, January 4, 2012

White Whale

To produce a mighty book, you must choose a mighty theme. 
No great and enduring volume can ever be written on the flea, 
though many there be who have tried it.

(visit the link for more Moby Dick-related artworks)

Aside from those more obvious considerations touching Moby Dick, which could not 
but occasionally awaken in any man's soul some alarm, there was another thought, 
or rather vague, nameless horror concerning him, which at times by its intensity 
completely overpowered all the rest; and yet so mystical and well nigh ineffable was it, 
that I almost despair of putting it in a comprehensible form. It was the whiteness 
of the whale that above all things appalled me. 

Tristan Lowe, Mocha Dick

Robert McCauleyMoby Dick Chapter 42, The Whiteness of the Whale

But not yet have we solved the incantation of this whiteness, and learned why
it appeals with such power to the soul; and more strange and far more portentous- 
why, as we have seen, it is at once the most meaning symbol of spiritual things, nay, 
the very veil of the Christian's Deity; and yet should be as it is, the intensifying agent 
in things the most appalling to mankind.

All that most maddens and torments; all that stirs up the lees of things; 
all truth with malice in it; all that cracks the sinews and cakes the brain; 
all the subtle demonisms of life and thought; all evil, to crazy Ahab, 
were visibly personified, and made practically assailable in Moby-Dick.

There she blows!—there she blows! A hump like a snow-hill! It is Moby Dick!

Mark Summers, thanks to Stevereads

Rockwell Kent, thanks again to the art of memory

An old, old sight, and yet somehow so young; aye, and not changed a wink 
since I first saw it, a boy, from the sand-hills of Nantucket!
The same — the same! — the same to Noah as to me.

George Klauba

Towards thee I roll, thou all-destroying but unconquering whale; to the last I grapple with thee; 
from hell’s heart I stab at thee; for hate’s sake I spit my last breath at thee. 
Sink all coffins and all hearses to one common pool! and since neither can be mine, 
let me then tow to pieces, while still chasing thee, though tied to thee, 
thou damned whale! Thus, I give up the spear!

Tom NeelyAnd I only am escaped alone to tell thee,
thanks to But Does it Float

Now small fowls flew screaming over the yet yawning gulf; 
a sullen white surf beat against its steep sides; then all collapsed, 
and the great shroud of the sea rolled on as it rolled five thousand years ago.

All quotes by Herman Melville


  1. American illustrator Randall Enos has illustrated the story of the white whale in his "Mocha Dick" linoleum print project. Here is a link to a sample print.

  2. Wow - really great illustrations! In September 2010 I did a post on the book Whaling Days, illustrated by David Frampton. If you would like to view it here is the link:

  3. Really good work. Thank you for offering a look at Melville's opus.
    Another really good read is more recently by Nathaniel Philbrick; "In The Heart of the Sea", about the whaleship Essex, the true tale of the actual vessel that was rammed by a whale and sunk, inspiring Melville's Moby Dick. The actua event's and the story of the men who survived by resorting to cannibalism is even more soul searing than H.M.'s fiction.

  4. I remember reading Moby Dick as a kid. These paintings really illustrate the epic nature of the story.

  5. Thanks for your comments!
    Rob, love the print, too bad I wasn't aware of it before.
    Jill, thanks for the link, Frampton's woodcuts are very nice.
    And anonymous, thanks for the info, I didn't even know
    that Moby DIck was inspired by real events!



Related Posts with Thumbnails