Monday, July 13, 2015


"My sensations were strange. Let me try to explain them."
—from chapter 4 of Moby-Dick by Herman Melville, "The Counterpane"


This is one of my favorite chapters of the novel. I love the friendship that is established between Ishmael and Queequeg in such a short amount of time. It was set up nicely in the preceding chapter and continues here. It is intimate, humorous, and very human.


Their "matrimonial bed" even includes a "hatchet-faced baby."


The whole scene is dreamlike. There is the strange tale that Ishmael relates about being sent to bed for the day as a child. There is Queequeg's arm merging into the pattern of the quiltwork. There is Ishmael's observation of Queequeg as "neither caterpillar nor butterfly," but in a stage of transformation and potentiality.

But what is the dream? The scene of "The Counterpane"? The novel of Moby-Dick? America? All of the above? None of the above? Something else entirely?

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