“What Obama Might Have Learned from Moby-Dick”

"Sperm Whale Mural", detail

detail of "Sperm Whale Mural", painted by Richard Ellis

A great article “What Obama Might Have Learned from Moby-Dick”, written by Wyn Kelley, a Melville scholar.

After September 11, 2001, some commentators wondered if Melville’s phrases in the opening of Moby-Dick prophesied a twenty-first-century war in Afghanistan. This year, as we observe a new inauguration, his words about an election for the presidency might seem strangely apt as well. Few have considered, however, whether “WHALING VOYAGE BY ONE ISHMAEL” matters to the government of the United States.

Now, apparently, it does. According to a statement on his homepage at Facebook, as well as in various interviews and profiles, incoming president Barack Obama’s favorite books are Toni Morrison’s Song of Solomon and Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick. What does this information suggest about our new president?

Other selections by Wyn Kelley:

  • Melville’s City: Literary and Urban Form in Nineteenth-Century New York
    Cambridge University Press, 1996,  click here
  • A Companion to Herman Melville
    Blackwell Publishing, click here

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