Sunday, April 9, 2017
Reading MOBY-DICK in 1957, 60 years ago
It's just now 60 years since I read MOBY-DICK over 11 afternoons while I allowed the pneumo-peritoneum to settle down after being up in the morning at West Contra Costa Junior College. I knew Shakespeare so well after the 5 months of reading the plays over and over the previous year that I could hardly believe a young American could have absorbed Shakespeare as Melville had done. Mr. Pence had let me read the book although he was teaching a course in the late 19th century, and I ignorantly wrote a paper on a blue book not writing on the back of pages until I got to the end and had more to say, so I had to turn it around and keep going. Mr. Pence gave me an A+ and said something in praise. Now here I am, 60 years later, proofreading the new Norton Critical Edition of MOBY-DICK, fifty years after the first one was published. What a world.