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 that have tried it… Herman Melville


whales001

The whale : in search of the giants of the sea  Philip Hoare  New York, NY : Ecco, c 2010  Hardcover. Originally published as: Leviathan, or, The whale. London : Fourth Estate, 2008. 1st US ed. and printing. 453 p. : ill., maps ; 23 cm. Includes bibliographical references (p. 423-428) and index. Clean, tight and strong binding with clean dust jacket. No highlighting, underlining or marginalia in text. VG/VG

whales002

Moby Dick is a book made mythic by its whale; but the reverse is also true. After Melville published his book in 1851, no one saw whales in quite the same way again. Melville created a modern myth out of an already legendary beast. But what is the true nature of the whale? Why does it fascinate us? All his life, Philip Hoare has been obsessed with these creatures, from the huge skeletons in Londona’s Natural History Museum to adult encounters with the wild animals themselves. Whales haunt him, as they seem to elide with dark fantasies of sea-serpents and other antediluvian monsters that swim in our collective unconscious.

whales003

He seeks to locate and identify that obsession. Why does the whale so vividly inhabit our imaginations? Is it a symbol of Edenic innocence in a time of threatened species and climate change? Or an older emblem of evil, the grotesque fish which swallowed Jonah? Travelling around the globe in search of the whale, Philip Hoare sheds light on our perennial fascination with the strange creatures of the sea, whose nature remains tantalizingly undiscovered.

whales004

Journeying through human and natural history, The Whale is the result of his voyage of discovery into the heart of this obsession and the book that inspired it: Herman Melville‘s Moby-Dick. Taking us deep into their domain, Hoare shows us these mysterious creatures as they have never been seen before. Following in Ishmael’s footsteps, he explores the troubled history of man and whale; visits the historic whaling locales of New Bedford, Nantucket, and the Azores; and traces the whale’s cultural history from Jonah to Free Willy. The Whale is an unforgettable and often moving attempt to explain why these strange and beautiful animals still exert such a powerful hold on our imagination.

whales005

Advertisements

Comments Off on 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 that have tried it… Herman Melville

Filed under Book Reviews

Comments are closed.