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Whale!

2003
Author:

Kim Evans

Whale!

An entirely fresh approach to Moby Dick, by way of Ludwig Wittgenstein

The aim of this thoroughly unconventional work is to demonstrate that Herman Melville’s Moby Dick and Ludwig Wittgenstein’s Philosophical Investigations are, in effect, one and the same book. Whale! not only successfully reveals the vital intersections between Melville and Wittgenstein but also makes a compelling argument for why such intersections are essential to understanding common political projects in literature and philosophy.

The aim of this thoroughly unconventional work is to demonstrate that Herman Melville’s Moby Dick and Ludwig Wittgenstein’s Philosophical Investigations share the same projects and are, in effect, one and the same book. Confounding and improbable as such an enterprise might seem, Whale! not only successfully reveals the vital intersections between Melville and Wittgenstein but also, more important, makes a compelling argument for why such intersections are essential to understanding common political projects in literature and philosophy.

Written with grace, passion, and wit, Whale! manages to produce a startling and remarkably original reading of one of the most written-about and interpreted books in the American canon. K. L. Evans explores Melville’s vast work as a tale not of vengeance but of affection, and Ahab’s near-pathological agitation as indicative of his refusal to accept the world as unknowable. Between Ahab and the whale, Evans traces a longing for connection and meaning and finds a forceful response to the skeptical view that language is bankrupt and knowledge is uncertain. In Ahab’s hunt for Moby Dick, Whale! discovers a way to reconnect matter with meaning, object with knowledge.


Whale!

K. L. Evans is assistant professor of English at the University of Redlands.

Whale!

CONTENTS

Preface
Preamble

1. A Tale of Attachment
2. A Common Account of Shipping
3. The Politics of Whale
4. Confessions of a Captain
5. Crossing the Line
6. A Leaky Boat

Swan Song

Notes

Acknowledgments