This time Jorge joins English professor, Kristin Van Tassel to talk about Moby Dick, or The Whale. Panned by critics at the time and now considered one of the greatest novels ever written. Everyone knows the story: Madman desperately tries to catch and kill a giant white whale, but even if you think you know it, Moby Dick holds many surprises for those who finally dare read it. Here we discuss how it surprised us, what it possibly means, and how it still speaks to our time. Join us!
Read more about Melville, his letters to Nathaniel Hawthorne, and about how critics hated his book here.
Read (or listen) to Jill Lepore’s excellent essay on Melville’s life, writings and his relationship to his home place here.
You can find Tony Morrison’s seminal writing on not only Moby Dick but whiteness in general in American literature here, or in her collection of essays: Playing in the Dark.
Check here for Rodrigo Fresán’s comments on just how modern Moby Dick is.
The article where Roberto Bolaño speaks of Huckleberry Finn and Moby Dick as two novels pointing to two distinct paths in literature is “Our Guide to the Abyss”, included in Between Parentheses.
And here’s a selection of Kristin Van Tassel’s writing.
- A poem about reading and teaching Moby Dick here.
- A poem about the kind of questions her son asked when he was younger during their walks in rural Kansas, in page 42.
- A review on Juan Villoro’s The Wild Book (‘El libro salvaje’) and one on the travel book Drinking Mare’s Milk on the Roof of the World.
- A funny and moving story about trying out new teaching methods (rapping in this case): The Professor Lady Spits Rhymes.
- An insightful piece on how fiction can be just as effective (and more) than essays and manifestos in this troubled times: My rural Kansas students read these American ghost stories to bear witness.
- A travel log and lyrical look at the ecology of Louisiana in: Swamp Creatures.
- And where she tells of how she met a hapless but kind young man in San Miguel de Allende: Swallowing Fear in San Miguel de Allende.