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Funny / Moby-Dick

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  • Every body knows the famous opening line, "Call me Ishmael." But unfortunately, fewer people know the part that come immediately after:
    Ishmael: Whenever I find myself growing grim about the mouth; whenever it is a damp, drizzly November in my soul; whenever I find myself involuntarily pausing before coffin warehouses, and bringing up the rear of every funeral I meet; and especially whenever my hypos get such an upper hand of me, that it requires a strong moral principle to prevent me from deliberately stepping into the street, and methodically knocking people's hats off—then, I account it high time to get to sea as soon as I can.
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  • Early on in the book, Ishmael is trying to gauge whether it's safe to sleep in the same room as a harpooner. The guy hasn't shown up yet, and Ishmael asks why. The innkeeper tells Ishmael that the harpooner is trying to sell his head, to the increasing frustration of Ishmael. Finally, Ishmael freaks out on the innkeeper, asking him to stop screwing around and tell him where the harpooner really is. The innkeeper tells Ishmael once again—the guy is selling his aboriginal shrunken head. Ishmael feels a little moronic after that.
  • The entire Cetology chapter. While some of the scientific inaccuracies are simply due to the book predating marine biology, some of them definitely aren't, and the whole thing comes across as one long, enthusiastic rant by a more-than-usually Lemony Narrator who clearly doesn't know as much as he wants us to think but loves making shit up.
    God keep me from ever completing anything. This whole book is but a draught — nay, but the draught of a draught. Oh, Time, Strength, Cash, and Patience!
    • The chapter Postscript (which is not, actually, a postscript to the book, but a postscript to an Author Tract that came before). Its mockery of monarchists is scathing enough that the English first edition removed the chapter entirely. In short, Melville compares coronation annointment with oil to putting oil dressing on a salad, and compares the aristocratic habit of oiling one's hair for vanity with being a dirty greaser. In nearly Shakespearean English.
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  • "Flask, alas! was a butterless man!"
  • Chapter 55 is just a series of TakeThats to various illustrations of whales that Melville finds inaccurate.
  • In Chapter 72, Stubb goes on a long rant when he finds out that Dough Boy tried to give Queequeg ginger tea instead of an actual drink.
  • There is a chapter where a man makes himself a jacket of sorts out of the skin of a whale's penis.
  • When the dead whale hung at the side of the ship attracts hungry sharks, Stub orders the chef Fleece to give the sharks a sermon to make them quiet down.
  • Elijah acting like a cross between a Loony Fan and a yandere over Ahab. Made even funnier by the fact that Elijah knowing all these strange details of Ahab's personal life implies that he could have been there; he would have to have been, as Ahab isn't exactly the type to monologue about his backstory. In other words, Elijah being obsessed with someone who in turn is famous for being obsessive.
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  • On discussing ambergris, a waxy substance of high value, produced in the stomachs of sick whales, we get this gem:
    "By some, ambergris is supposed to be the cause, others the effect, of the dyspepsia in the whale. How to cure such a dyspepsia it were hard to say, unless by administering three or four boat loads of Brandreth's pills, and then running out of harm's way, as laborers do in blasting rocks."


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