I watched a great BBC documentary this week. It’s about this blue whale skeleton that has been installed in the Natural History Museum in London. The whale was beached in Ireland in the 1890’s, and it hasn’t been exhibited in over 70 years. The blue whale is the biggest animal that has ever existed, with a heart as big as a Volkswagen Beetle.
On this day in 1851, the famous novel by American author Herman
Melville, Moby-Dick, was published in London as The Whale. Meville was born in New York in 1819 to a prosperous family, but upon his father’s death in 1832, it fell upon Herman and his brother to take control of the family fur business. A few years later, Melville found work as a crew member on a merchant ship, and it was his experiences of sea voyages which shaped much of his later work. His magnum opus, however, was Moby-Dick, published in 1851 and based on his experiences aboard whale ships and inspired by the true story of the sinking of the Essex whaleship in 1820. Moby-Dick - the novel’s title upon publication in New York - is narrated by a sailor called Ishmael, who recounts Captain Ahab’s relentless pursuit of a ferocious sperm whale called Moby Dick, who
had previously attacked his ship. While the novel is now considered an American
classic, it received a lukewarm response from contemporary critics and readers, only selling 3,200 copies during Meville’s lifetime.
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