Herman MelvilleNov 2, 2022
A Discussion with editor Hester Blum
Oxford University Press 2022
Today I talked to Hester Blum, editor of a new edition of Moby-Dick (Oxford UP, 2022).
"It will be a strange sort of a book, tho', I fear; blubber is blubber you know; tho' you may get oil out of it, the poetry runs as hard as sap from a frozen maple tree;--& to cook the thing up, one must needs throw in a little fancy.... Yet I mean to give the truth of the thing, spite of this."
Moby-Dick has a monumental reputation. Less well known are the novel's unexpectedly weird, funny, tantalizing, messy, and wondrous moments. Narrator Ishmael, along with the whaleship Pequod's other meanest mariners, and renegades and castaways, is beguiled into joining Captain Ahab in his vengeful pursuit of the white whale that dismasted him. But along the way, Ishmael takes the reader along many a detour into variegated ways of knowing. In a tone strangely compounded of fun and fury, Moby-Dick brings outlandish curiosity to bear on the multitudinous, oceanic scale of our diverse world.
William Domnarski is a longtime lawyer who before and during has been a literary guy, with a Ph.D. in English. He's written five books on judges, lawyers, and courts, two with Oxford, one with Illinois, one with Michigan, and one with the American Bar Association.