Moby Dick: the first-ever blook?

I’m very nearly settled on Herman Melville’s Moby Dick for my proposed blook project.

Why Moby Dick? Well, first off, I like Melville — what little I’ve read of him. I thought “Bartleby, The Scrivener” was an amazing read: both the imagery and the fantastic nature of the story make it truly brilliant work.

Second, it’s ambitious. Why settle for a wimpy little text like Joyce’s Portrait of the Artist when I can tackle a 200,000-word monstrosity like Moby Dick?

Third, it’s “important.” Probably the most “significant” book I’ve never read, or at least the most significant American book I’ve never read.

Fourth, it’s bloggable. It’s got lots of little chapters, and relatively short paragraphs, both of which lend themselves to the blog format.

However, there are some serious issues with Moby Dick as well. It’s by a dead white guy. The dead part can’t really be helped, since I need to do an out-of-copyright text. White and guy are more serious issues. Why should the first blook reinforce the hegemony of the Man? I don’t have a good answer for that one, though at least during his lifetime it is true that, like many women and people of color, Melville was certainly underappreciated. Melville never was the Man, at least while he was alive.

I’m sure there are other reasons not to do Moby Dick, but the more I think about it, the more I’m convinced it’s the book I’d really like to turn into a blook. You can try to talk me out of it (as my wife already has), but I’m going to be hard to convince.

P.S. I think I’ve solved the technical issues w/r/t using blogging software to make a blook. The only things standing between me and getting this done will be creating a decent design, and finding the time. I’ll keep you posted on the blook’s progress.

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5 Responses to Moby Dick: the first-ever blook?

  1. Don’t fuss over the PC issues. Not that big of a deal. Here’s an idea. Why not write your own interlude/sidenotes from minor characters and heck–even from the perspective of the whale (although I think some other novelist did that–can’t remember). Or you can let Moby Dick become the central text and allow other people to add supplemental texts. Or you can include some “lost chapters.” The possibilities are endless.

    Now that I contemplate such a project, it makes me realize how brilliant Tom Stoppard’s Rosenstern and Guildenstern play was.

    Your idea sounds grand, and you’re right, Moby Dick is a good expansive work for this; wish I’d thought of it first!

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  3. Scott says:

    Dave,

    Very interesting stuff. Perhaps you’ve be able to make
    this a “living” book, with continual annotations
    and debates appended by readers–sort of like a
    Wikipedia entry, but blogstyle (so that there can be
    visible debate within the annotations).

  4. Chad Orzel says:

    Kate notes that you’ve been beaten to the book-blogging thing by a person who’s posting Dracula as a blog:

    http://infocult.typepad.com/dracula/

  5. dave says:

    Chad/Kate, thanks for the heads’ up. I think what I’m doing is a little different, but I’d like to be aware of other similar efforts.

    Main differences: it seems that most books that have been posted “blog style” retain the blog’s reverse-chronology. This works okay as long as everyone is following along in real time, but it’s not so useful when you’re presented with the complete work, all backwards. Also, navigation by date doesn’t work well with most books, which is why I’m working on “page” system, where the “page” corresponds to the “date” entry in a blog.

    I’m also striving for a more readable, more book-like design. We’ll see how well I succeed at all this.

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