Talk:Moby-Dick

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Former good article nominee Moby-Dick was a Language and literature good articles nominee, but did not meet the good article criteria at the time. There are suggestions below for improving the article. Once these issues have been addressed, the article can be renominated. Editors may also seek a reassessment of the decision if they believe there was a mistake.
October 28, 2008 Good article nominee Not listed
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Sources or References[edit]

The section Sources, now changed to References, used to list all sources used for this article, whether cited or not. Only one source was not cited: Robert Gale's book on Plots and Characters. The plot summary is shaped with the help of this book, and therefore it is a scholarly duty to list it. The title of the section was changed to "References and further reading" but after I deleted "further reading" the Gale book was dropped. I tried to get used to that but simply cannot live with the knowledge that a book used for the article is not mentioned anymore. So my suggestion is to put the book back and change the title of the section back to Sources if that is necessary to contain material used but not mentioned by inline citations. Let me know what you think.MackyBeth (talk) 10:08, 30 December 2014 (UTC)

I restored Gale. The guideline at WP:FNNR is indeed that we may include items used but not cited. There was no way for other editors to know that Gale had been used until MackyBeth revealed that information.ch (talk) 17:26, 7 January 2015 (UTC)
Thanks!MackyBeth (talk) 02:23, 9 January 2015 (UTC)

Added strong references - too dependent on too few books. Collect (talk) 17:50, 22 February 2015 (UTC)

Indeed, the source cited at footnote 85 seems to be valuable new research. However, I am not so sure about the reference at footnote 87: I suspect that that source simply takes its data from Tanselle's research published in the 1988 Northwestern-Newberry Moby-Dick, the source that is underlying most of this section. In which case I have two objections to that addition:
  1. footnote 87 distracts the reader from the original source (Tanselle 1988) to another source derived from Tanselle rather than a genuinely new source.
  2. My checking of the history of this article reveals that the edit made on 22 February 2015 does not add new information, but merely goes on to attribute information added by me to another source than I used. This is not making the article stronger, as Collect claims it does, but quite contrary a step toward obscuring where the information really comes from.

Please keep in mind that the editors who have done most of the work on this article in recent times, myself and ch, intend to prepare the article for a run at GA status, and this kind of tinkering should be discouraged. Nevertheless, the source cited at note 85 is a welcome addition.MackyBeth (talk) 18:51, 20 March 2015 (UTC)

The OUP cite does not cite Tanselle for the figures - it is quite well footnoted, with Tanselle mentioned pp 121-3 as being one of the editors of a definitive book. In fact the Oxford book appears to make specific reference to the Harper's royalty statement. Thus I see no reason for intuiting that the OUP book is other than a very reliable source for such claims on its own . Collect (talk) 19:09, 20 March 2015 (UTC)
I have to relie on the online version cited in note 87 and that does not include pages 121-123. However, page 134 sounds as if it is based upon Tanselle, and has nothing to add to his work. Even the reference to the sales statement, not royalty statement as you said, was probably based on Tanselle. This kind of archival research is very unlikely to have been carried out for this book. You may want to look at Tanselle's page 688 online by clicking on note 58. Unfortunately, page 689 is not available online but checking page 688 should be enough to make anybody think that Tanselle was the source for this.MackyBeth (talk) 19:24, 20 March 2015 (UTC)
The OUP is a fairly reliable publisher - and the book footnotes all sorts of stuff. I would, moreover, note that excessive reliance on any single source raises issues at GA reviews. The more the sourcing from independent cites, the better, as a general rule. Tanselle alone is used 28 times in the article (out of 100). Heflin is used 10 times. Bryant 14, though several of his works get used. Any GA reviewer will raise the issue of more than 1/4 of all cites being from a single work. And more than half from three authors alone. Cheers. Collect (talk) 19:58, 20 March 2015 (UTC)
Yes, the OUP is a reliable publisher, what makes you think I would doubt that? There is nothing wrong with George Cotkin basing his page 134 on Tanselle's work. I assume he credits Tanselle in his footnotes at the back of the book, even though those footnotes are not available in the online sample of the book. Point is, if the article is already using Tanselle, there is no need to use other sources based upon his work and adding nothing to it. Independent sources on this matter are only sources not based on Tanselle. There are many, many books this article needs to cite when it comes to dealing with the criticism of Moby-Dick, but only very few scholars undertake the kind of research pertaining to the textual transmission and sales figures of a specific work, even if that work is Moby-Dick. Here is a list of all editions that made use of both the British and American versions:
  1. Norton Critical Edition, 1967. Editors Parker and Hayford.
  2. Northwestern-Newberry Edition, 1988. Editors Hayford, Parker, Tanselle.
  3. Longman Edition, 2006. Editors Bryant and Springer.

That's it. All other recent printings of Moby-Dick take the 1988 text at best, and no other edition is a fully new edition. These 5 scholars are responsible for all the basic work, so the section "Publication history" cannot be based on any more sources.MackyBeth (talk) 20:15, 20 March 2015 (UTC)

What a remarkable claim, indeed. Cotkin's work was editorially vetted, and received handsome reviews. As a result, it meets Wikipedia specific WP:RS requirements, which do not say "only new information can be sourced to a book published by OUP" last I checked. No GA reviewer will find an iota of problem using it, and they absolutely will question over-reliance on a total of three authors for any good article.[1] Would you prefer that the reviewer note the thinness of the reference sources list? Cheers. Collect (talk) 20:26, 20 March 2015 (UTC)
Please read before you write, for you are still thinking that I have something against OUP, and I just explained this is not the case. You seem to assume that I am against using Cotkin's book, which I am not, at least not if it is used the way sources are normally used: to add information not previously part of the article. But you are attributing sourced information added by me to another source for no good reason. Oh, and I have just read your edit summary, but the word "plagiarized" does not belong there: plagiarism is only at stake if one uses a source without saying so, and I have no reason to doubt that Cotkin is correctly attributing his information to the same Tanselle work that is used for this article. No plagiarism involved. Once again: please do not attribute statements to me that I do not make. Cheers.MackyBeth (talk) 20:36, 20 March 2015 (UTC)
What a remarkable claim, indeed. Cotkin's work was editorially vetted, and received handsome reviews. As a result, it meets Wikipedia specific WP:RS requirements, which do not say "only new information can be sourced to a book published by OUP" last I checked. No GA reviewer will find an iota of problem using it, and they absolutely will question over-reliance on a total of three authors for any good article.[2] Would you prefer that the reviewer note the thinness of the reference sources list? Cheers. Collect (talk) 20:26, 20 March 2015 (UTC)
FN for Chapter 71: Henry David Thoreau, The Journal of Henry David Thoreau, ed. Bradford Torrey and Francis H. Allen (Salt Lake City, UT: Peregrine Smith Books, 1984), vol. 3, p. 115 [November 14, 1851]; New York Daily Times (November 15, 1851), p. 2. does not credit Tanselle, so we must assume he used the primary sources he mentions directly.
Note - Cotkin gives $1,260 as total royalties - a figure I did not actually find in Tanselle (mea culpa?). It does appear in Robertson-Lorant in 1998. Collect (talk) 20:52, 20 March 2015 (UTC)
Oh yes, the figure of $1,260 is in Tanselle! Look at note 88. The figure is on that page 689 that is not included in the online version of the edition, but I do have the paper edition. Good you have Robertson-Lorant, for I have yet been unable to obtain it for the Herman Melville biography page. Her book is from 1996, not 1998 though.MackyBeth (talk) 21:01, 20 March 2015 (UTC)
Google is pretty good at finding the footnotes - I suspect the $1,260 antedates Tanselle then as well. Questia has a lot of material and also failed to find the footnote :( which is why I presumed it had to be in there somewhere. Cheers. Collect (talk) 21:09, 20 March 2015 (UTC)
Not sure if I know what you are talking about. I was talking about note 88 of the Wikipedia article for Moby-Dick. Oh, and Tanselle has an old article from Harvard Library Bulletin in 1969 about "The Sales of Melville's Books". He is the main investigator in this topic. Cheers.MackyBeth (talk) 21:12, 20 March 2015 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── Correction and Comment I join MackyBeth in welcoming all fresh eyes to join us, since we are merely the most recent in a long line of editors which will now stretch into the future. I thank Collect for pointing to this real problem, though I disagree on this particular point.

One first problem is that the reference to Gettman in note 85 is incorrect. The date of publication given in the note was 2010 but the date of publication on the copyright page is 1960 (2010 is only the date for the digitally published version). Therefore the information in the book precedes Tanselle and Tanselle (either 1969 or 1988) supercedes it. I suggest that we agree by Consensus that Gettman be removed. Meanwhile I have corrected the date in the note.

Two comments on the use of Cotkin. The Cotkin book is indeed a reliable source, but there are literally thousands of Reliable Sources on Melville and Moby Dick, and there is no easy way to decide which one to use at a particular place. The review quoted at Questia says that Dive Deeper functions as as a clearinghouse of critical and historical data on Moby-Dick, which makes it a WP:Tertiary source. MackyBeth follows this policy in preferring the secondary source for this type of reference.

The first purpose of footnotes is to show where the information came from, and a second job is to tell the reader where to find more information. For the first job, Wikipedia policy is to prefer WP:Secondary sources, that is, scholarship which is based on direct contact with WP:Primary sources. This is why Tanselle 1988 is the most appropriate reference in this case.

Of course, Tertiary Sources, even textbooks, are fine for more general statements, and this article uses them in many places. The problem which can never be solved to everyone’s satisfaction is to balance scholarly but boring sources such as Tanselle with reliable but lively works that will entice our readers into pursuing the subject and “dive deeper.” Other works can certainly be added to the notes, but it will always be a challenge to decide whether to add DelBanco or Parker or Cotkin or one of several dozen other Reliable but not special sources.

We need more discussion as to how and where to add a wider variety of sources useful to a variety of readers without being haphazard and only using what comes up in a Google Book search. The References section and Notes are not the place for an extensive bibliography of the field, but I am sorry to disagree with the suggestion that the article relies “on a total of three authors.” The notes and references cite several dozen works and the total number of authors is a lot more than three. Cheers to all! ch (talk) 05:35, 21 March 2015 (UTC)

Hopefully the explanation offered by ch settles the matter. I have a few things to add. First, to me the publications of G. Thomas Tanselle are not "boring" at all. I find his writing style vivid and admire the soundness of his reasoning. It's just that he works in the specialized field of bibliography and many readers who enjoy literature do not enjoy the account of how the texts of works came down to us in the shape we know them. Second, when Collect said that there are too little sources, I guess that he was referring not to the article as a whole but to specific sections, especially "Publication history." This section involves facts rather than interpretation. While the article eventually should represent many influential interpretations of the meaning of the whiteness of the whale, establishing how many copies of the book were sold during Melville's life is a fact that leaves little room for discussion. Now, one may argue that the section on "Style" incorporates not enough sources. True, but not too long ago this article did not feature a discussion of the style at all! The article will continue to develop and the way to help developing it is not to point out to editors where the gaps are but to become an editor yourself and help filling those gaps. Third, Collect worries that the GA review process will point out not enough sources are used. Adding sources for the sake of enlarging the list of references is not the way to develop an article. Wikipedia articles need to reflect scholarly consensus, and if consensus is that Tanselle provided the definitive account of the publication history, it seems reasonable that that source is the major one informing that part of the article. Fourth, I am aware of many books and essays on MD that are not yet cited in the article but that ought to be cited. This is a very large list, going back to at least a classic study from 1949: Howard P. Vincent, The Trying-Out of Moby-Dick. This book has yielded a wealth of outstanding criticism that will gradually be taken up in this article. The flipside of that coin is that editors make it a point not to allow mediocre criticism that has failed to make impact on Melville studies to be incorporated in the article. There simply is no room for it.MackyBeth (talk) 09:38, 21 March 2015 (UTC)

I demur on calling Cotwin "tertiary" which is generally used for "encyclopedias" and not for peer-reviewed books published by major university presses. And I find no source "boring" which provides useful content - just that if we overly rely on specific sources (over half of the time relying on three authors) we forget that one of our aims is to provide a wide rage of sources on topics for readers to then explore. Cheers. Collect (talk) 12:02, 21 March 2015 (UTC)

Here you have a sample of three Cotwin reviews and especially the last one suggests that this is an entertaining book rather than a work of serious literary criticism. But to stick to the point, when ch caled the book a tertiary source he was referring not to the book as a whole but only to that part which you used. And for that part Tanselle is the secondary source. And oh, even publisgers like the OUP do publish trivial books as well as first-rate material.MackyBeth (talk) 12:19, 21 March 2015 (UTC)
The fact a book is entertaining != making it a "tertiary source" under the Wikipedia definition <g>: "Tertiary sources are publications such as encyclopedias and other compendia that summarize primary and secondary sources." The organization and sourcing of Cotwin is that of a well-sourced book on a specific narrow topic with specific claims falling well outside the term "summary", which makes it one of the better types of sources to use, in fact, and quite importantly broadens the reference base of the entire article. Your apparent definition would even bar Tanselle for use of any claims made in sources which he used which were "secondary sources" by a strict count. So let us live by the Wikipedia usage, and the GA belief that a broad range of sources is superior to stressing three sources for more than half of the entire article. Really guys - this is from experience. Collect (talk) 12:33, 21 March 2015 (UTC)
The link to reviews of Cotwin's book I provided in my previous response contains the verdict of Library Journal, which I quote here: "Since there seems no rationale for what any given chapter here discusses, the book does little to help the serious reader 'dive deeper' into Melville's work. On the other hand, readers who enjoy trivia and tangents may appreciate the book." According to that review, the book discusses the coffee chain Starbuck's and a 1955 heavyweight championship. Hardly sounds like an important addition to Melville studies.MackyBeth (talk) 12:54, 21 March 2015 (UTC)

Quote: So let us live by the Wikipedia usage, and the GA belief that a broad range of sources is superior to stressing three sources for more than half of the entire article. Dear Collect, I have been pointing out several times now that we do NOT have any intention to "stress" any source in this article. We simply use sources, and the relative weight of any source will become lighter as the article develops and information from more sources are added. But that is not what you did: instead of supplying new information, you merely re-attributed information added by me to a source not used by me, an unexpected procedure from someone with as many barnstars as you have earned. Cheers. MackyBeth (talk) 13:13, 21 March 2015 (UTC)

OUP states "Creative combination of cultural history and easily accessible reference tool: Cotkin's succinct, engaging approach allows general readers to easily traverse Melville's labryinthine masterpiece Illustrates the novel's immense legacy in American culture, showing its influence on the visual arts, recording artists, and Hollywood" specifies it is a "reference tool" by that minor publisher's standards.

PW has " In this entertaining companion to Moby-Dick, California Polytechnic State University historian Cotkin addresses the novel chapter by chapter, briefly invoking a chapter’s premise before exploring its subjects, themes, and author, as well as the novel’s life, reception, and legacy. Cotkin’s comprehensive method is attuned to both popular representations and individuals who have heeded the novel’s call to “dive into the mysteries of meaning, into the storms of existence.” There’s the novel’s presence in the art of Red Grooms and Frank Stella, its reverberations in Hart Crane’s poetry and Cormac McCarthy’s novels, as well as its use in Abbott and Costello’s comedy routine, in marketing whale meat, and in Star Trek, where Ahab manifests as Khan, villain (and Melville devotee). Melville’s influence on rapper MC Lars and the novel’s rewriting into Japanese emoticons feel less urgent, but whimsy is balanced with plenty of punches at Ahab’s target, “the pasteboard mask of reality.” Melville’s interest in hieroglyphics is paired with the novel’s passages on the cryptic markings found on whale skin; over such markings, Cotkin writes, “Melville quaked with anxiety because he sensed—from the hieroglyphics of God’s creation—that the meaning of it all was meaningless at best and evil at worst.” Cotkin’s discussion of Melville’s use of the novel to wrestle with theodicy provides additional glimpses of the depths of “America’s novel.”"

Boston Globe: ".... Mostly, the book works so well because it is both serious and seriously entertaining (much like its subject). As Cotkin points out, “[h]umor is the ballast that keeps afloat Melville’s ship of tragedy.” Luckily for those of us who love “Moby-Dick,” this new companion is as affable as it is smart." which seems favourable indeed.

Booklist Review:"... The 135 chapters may drift about as chaotically as the flotsam left when the Great Whale smashes the Pequod, but this flotsam has been pried from the depths, and it will thrill Melvilleans.--Christensen, Bryce Copyright 2010 Booklist"

[3] is also of interest -- looks from here like the reviews were generally favourable. More to the point - the book easily passes the RS gantlet, thus is usable. When I trimmed Joseph Widney down to a "good article" (I understand this may be a unique task) I restricted use of any single source to a maximum of ten cites.

By the way, using a different source for the same basic info is not intended as a slap in any way at the editor who first added the claim- it is intended to provide additional sources or the entire article. I apologize if you feel I did it to slight you or anyone else at all. Cheers. Collect (talk) 13:25, 21 March 2015 (UTC)

Collect, let's say we made a false start there, because you would not have earned so many barnstars if you were not a serious editor. If I had a copy of the Cotkin book, I would probably use it for this Wikipedia article, but I don't have a copy. From what I now know about the book, it looks especially useful to develop the sections "Reception" and "Adaptation" with.MackyBeth (talk) 13:37, 21 March 2015 (UTC)

The section "Editions"[edit]

I added two editions and now all scholarly editions of MD are listed. I also added Berthoff 1988 (online) to References, because this review of the NN edition by an important scholar contains reservations to quite a few of the emendations, reservations that have ultimately led to the Bryant/Springer edition. My question is: should this section provide a paragraph discussing the editions and how they relate to each other? For instance, merely listing the editions does not tell readers that the 1967 Norton Critical Edition contains only one critical essay that was retained in the 2002 edition. That essay is Bezanson 1953, which, as I now see, is not quoted here in the article yet but is used for the Ishmael (Moby-Dick) article.MackyBeth (talk) 15:08, 21 March 2015 (UTC)

The problem is that we are not supposed to add our own knowledge or deductions to any article - that a section was added or removed is not something we are supposed to mention unless a reliable source mentions it. We can say "essays added include xxx, yyy" or "essays deleted were xxx or yyy" but at the peril that someone will say that no actual specific source makes that claim (sigh). Not a great position to be in - but is the removal of an essay of significance? Or one of economics? Collect (talk) 21:01, 21 March 2015 (UTC)
When was the last time I added - or even tolerated the addition of - unsourced material? When I ask other editors' views on whether or not to supply a paragraph detailing the differences between the editions, I do not wish to have it inferred that such paragraph be unsourced. The "Preface" to the 2002 revised NCE discusses this and therefore may be used as a source, and the introduction of the Bryant/Springer edition sets forth what the differences are between theirs and the 1988 edition. The point is whether such paragraph is a good or a bad idea.MackyBeth (talk) 21:18, 21 March 2015 (UTC)
Argh! I fear you misread my post, or I misworded my meaning. Yes - a preface may be used to say an essay was added or deleted - but then the problem is - is such a change ephemeral in relation to the subject, or is it of significant encyclopedic value to readers here. If the change is only altered in a preface, and makes no difference to anything we write about the topic, we can generally ignore that bit. The key to a good article IMO is knowing what is important and what is unimportant, and carving the unimportant marble from the Pietà. (in analogy mode, alas) Collect (talk) 21:29, 21 March 2015 (UTC)
Editors can and do hold surprisingly different views about what is and what is not important enough for inclusion in an encyclopediae, so I thought I'd bring it up. Your marble metaphor is flawed in one interesting respect: for a sculptor, the marble is already there, but for a well written Wikipedia article, you need two kinds of skills. One skill is providing the marble: adding sourced information. The other skill is carving: bringing the added information back to a reasonable size, which not only includes deleting information that is not essential, but also the ability of writing economically and synthesizing power, so that the information gets as condensed as possible. Usually both approaches are carried out at the same time by different editors, me being one who provides the marble.MackyBeth (talk) 21:48, 21 March 2015 (UTC)
Then please accept my offer of having a strong chisel <g> sans any animus whatsoever on any part. Deal? Collect (talk) 22:16, 21 March 2015 (UTC)
Strong chisels are always handy! Since a concise writing style is not my best developed skill, I am always full of awe at how concise the featured articles are written.MackyBeth (talk) 08:39, 22 March 2015 (UTC)

images[edit]

No sourcing needed <g>. Some were of too great a weight visually - so I went to some suggested sizing and placement to make the page visually improved, I hope.

The article likely needs another two or three images -- though the sections on criticisms etc. are remarkably hard to illustrate <g> but perhaps these Commons images would be useful? [4] has the New Bedford Whaling National Historical Customs House - which not only covers whaling directly but by allusion Melville's stint as a Customs Inspector as well for those who notice.

I would like the New Bedford statue of a Harpooner by Bela Pratt if someone will find an "absolutely public domain" example, of course. I did a first day cover for the Moby Dick/Melville envelope years ago, but if anyone has a photo of the actual statue to upload to Commons, it would look, IMO, great. The envelope, AFAICT, does not have any hyphen.

We might even dare to include the last of the US whaling ships - the Charles W. Morgan (ship) [5]. Any other possibles? Collect (talk) 22:53, 21 March 2015 (UTC)

Sections on criticism are hard to illustrate... with pictures, but instead the article will feature quoteboxes that demonstrate how Melville used his sources. For an example of how this will look, take a peek at the section "Writing Style" at Herman Melville.MackyBeth (talk) 08:42, 22 March 2015 (UTC)
Good to see attention being paid to the visual weight of the images, but the images are now too small to figure out what they are! Besides, many people use Wikipedia on their tablets or phones, where a 150px is postage stamp size. Would anyone object to making them just a little bigger, maybe 250 px?ch (talk) 17:20, 22 March 2015 (UTC)
Especially the chart of the voyage should not be too small. For the rest I actually don't really care about illustrations that were no part of the original book, but it's good to see that someone tries to find out if improvement is possible.MackyBeth (talk) 17:27, 22 March 2015 (UTC)
Um -- you do know how huge 250px is as a set size? Will set it there -- but I thibk you will find it quite overpowering. Collect (talk) 18:16, 22 March 2015 (UTC)
You are right, the size is a bit large now, which is indeed a nuisiance especially since the illustrations do little to enhance our understanding.MackyBeth (talk) 18:26, 22 March 2015 (UTC)
The MOS/Images at WP:IMGSYN suggests 225px unless there is significant detail which would be obscured, such as in a map. More guidance at WP:IMGSIZE
So 225 is fine with me if it works for y'awl, though I agree with MackyBeth that it seems too small to show the detail on the chart of the voyage.ch (talk) 22:15, 22 March 2015 (UTC)

Wikilinking and refs for words inside quotations[edit]

Is contrary to the MoS alas - can you remove the links and refs inside the quotations? They are assuredly a problem for GA review.


WP:MOSQUOTE "As much as possible, avoid linking from within quotes, which may clutter the quotation, violate the principle of leaving quotations unchanged, and mislead or confuse the reader."

Cheers. Collect (talk) 13:15, 22 March 2015 (UTC)

Do you have any specific edits in mind with this suggestion? I see no links within quotations added recently.MackyBeth (talk) 13:40, 22 March 2015 (UTC)
The two quotes in the Style section 1) Have links and refs 2) Use the WP:REFGROUP format, which is certainly permitted but which readers find confusing, as in the discussion at Melville/ Melvill ch (talk)
Which two quotes are those? I can't remember having put links in quotations. Today I only made quoteboxes with underlinings and notes but no links.MackyBeth (talk) 18:23, 22 March 2015 (UTC)


In fact I would suggest losing the big boxes, and sticking to (say) "In black distress, I called my God,/ When I could scarce believe him mine,/ He bowed his ear to my complaints-- /No more the whale did me confine[g]. "With speed he flew to my relief, / As on a radiant dolphin[h] borne[i]; / Awful, yet[j] bright, as lightning shone / The face of my Deliverer God." And the comparison with the Psalm in text form rather than as a parallel construct - as the importance is Melville's use of seaman-specific language there, and the rest is minor, Battenfield is not so important that his every note should be in this article. This will improve the net usage of the article, and IMO improve it.

The part above the Psalm with sentences progressing from "first" to "fifth" should be broken down and the ordinals lost. One suggestion to play with might be:

Melville uses a wide vocabulary drawing on nautical and literary references of the period. Such adjectives as "cetological" are more literary than nautical, while other terms are decidedly those of the sea-farer. He borrows from well-known classics, including the analogies of Homer and Shakespeare, to obscure seaman's slang, and prophetic archaism.[5]
He uses verbal strategies both individually and in combination. His use of the modified word "Leviathanism"[23] and repetition of modified words, as "pitiable", "pity", "pitied" and "piteous" (Ch. 81, "The Pequod Meets the Virgin"),[24] is one strategy.
He also uses common words in new ways, as when the whale "heaps" and "tasks,"[23] providing a verbal imagery in doing so.
Specialized vocabulary, such as "fossiliferous" provides a technical aura to some parts[23], while unusual adjective-noun combinations, as in "concentrating brow" and "immaculate manliness" provide accentuation to simple wording (Ch. 26, "Knights and Squires").[25]

The goal is to make this more understandable to readers, while keeping the gist of the meaning as I read and understood the source. "Participial modifiers" is a tad arcane here, to be sure.


Some of this is likely not the most felicitous rewording, but I think it makes the points which are germane to the reader reasonably well. Collect (talk) 20:03, 22 March 2015 (UTC)

I don't see you answering my question: where are the links inside quotations that should be removed? I mean, let's settle that first before we go into other subjects. Cheers.MackyBeth (talk) 20:41, 22 March 2015 (UTC)
You link to the phrases used in the Psalm variant - this is quite confusing to readers - especially in such a long section. I suggest we stick to just two subsections of the Psalm in the case at hand, and explain each as we go along, rather than listing the entire variant and the entire Psalm of which it is a variant. Collect (talk) 21:48, 22 March 2015 (UTC)
Adding underlining is a clear change to the quotation, which is contrary to the MOS, and adding notes is at the very least contrary to the spirit of the MOS, whether or not they are technically links (which in fact they may well be, since they link to the notes).
We may not need to settle this technical point first, since I agree with Collect that the blue quote boxes are not needed and the Style section is getting unfocused. ch (talk) 21:59, 22 March 2015 (UTC)
How would you emend my draft wording for the Vocabulary section? (it is far more about vocabulary usage than style as far as I can tell) And a "link" is anything you can click on which does something, again IMHO. Collect (talk) 22:05, 22 March 2015 (UTC)
Please try to avoid confusing and discuss one topic in one heading here, which is about links. A link is something where you click to another page, an underlining is not. It makes no sense to talk about an underlining as if there is no difference with a link.MackyBeth (talk) 22:12, 22 March 2015 (UTC)
The first entry in this section is "WP:MOSQUOTE "As much as possible, avoid linking from within quotes, which may clutter the quotation, violate the principle of leaving quotations unchanged, and mislead or confuse the reader." Underling etc have everything to do with "the principle of leaving quotations unchanged." ch (talk) 22:17, 22 March 2015 (UTC)
The MOS is talking about linking, not underlining. Don't make up guidelines of your own.MackyBeth (talk) 22:19, 22 March 2015 (UTC)
I apologize if I have distracted from the main point, which is to second Collect's request to remove the underlining and notes from the boxes. While I continue to admire the attentiveness, intelligence, and learning that went into creating the boxes, they seem out of proportion to the needs of this article (see new section).ch (talk) 16:26, 23 March 2015 (UTC)
Thanks for your kind words. To me the thing was that underlining is a mere typographical device and as such falling in the same category as do boldface and italice, but different from links. So to say that removing underlining would be in keeping with the spirit of the guideline stating that links and quotations don't go together seems to me to stretch the concept of "the spirit of the law."MackyBeth (talk) 16:17, 27 March 2015 (UTC)

Boxes in Style section move to Father Mapple?[edit]

The two text boxes are excellent commentaries on Father Mapple's hymn. However, they are out of proportion for this article, while the section Father Mapple’s sermon in the Father Mapple article lacks this depth of analysis. I suggest that the text of the boxes be moved to a new section there, with a link to this article, leaving the main text here. ch (talk) 16:47, 23 March 2015 (UTC)

Nice solution - we can stick to simply showing some of the changes (not boxed), ascribing them to Melville's desire to portray a church service aimed specifically at seamen. With a single ref needed for all of it. Collect (talk) 16:53, 23 March 2015 (UTC)
MackyBeth, any thoughts? There would be room at Father Mapple for more analysis, whereas the Style section here is now roughly 1,500 words, which is more than Themes and Structure combined.ch (talk) 21:58, 23 March 2015 (UTC)
Transferring this to Mapple is alright with me, ch. Actually, I had thought of putting it there but wanted to see how it would fare on the MD main page. And oh, I plan to develop the sections Themes and Structure in the near future: the MOS for Novels says the "Theme" section contains the "meat" of the article, and in that respect some work needs to be done. Cheers.MackyBeth (talk) 16:17, 27 March 2015 (UTC)
I've made the move.ch (talk) 06:26, 28 March 2015 (UTC)

Cotkin/Tanselle and Censorship[edit]

This week I had a chance to look at Cotkin's book, and just as I thought, he credits Tanselle though you'll have to search the notes to see where:

  • on page 271, the notes to chpter 48, he cites Tanselle's 1969 essay "The Sales of Melville's Books"
  • on page 276, notes to chapter 86, he cites Tanselle's "Historical Note VI" in the 1988 Moby-Dick edition.

Of course, he should have cited Tanselle as well at the chapter with the data, but I guess he was just being sloppy. Sloppiness or simply a bad job of proofreading is evident everywhere in the book: at one point the title A Comparison to Melville Studies occurs, instead of A Companion, on page 56 he mentions that F.O. Matthiessen discussed not only Melville but also Emerson, Thoreau, and Whitman as well in his American Renaissance. No Hawthorne? On page 235 a typo is overlooked, so that Melville voraciously read Shakespeare in 1847 instead of 1849. A book with errors like this does not seem a good source to quote from.

This discussion has made me think back of an issue in the "Publication history" section ch and I debated half a year or so ago, about the word "censorship" in one of the headings. On the Talk Page I quoted how some scholars described the British revisions with that term, but I did not add such quote to the page. Since I figured that "censorship" is too strong a qualification to be used unsourced, I now looked up some quotes which I will add this weekend, so that the use of the term in the article is backed up. Cheers.MackyBeth (talk) 20:39, 27 March 2015 (UTC)

Proceed with caution before expansion[edit]

A few thoughts. Good that MackyBeth is giving us warning of more material to come but I would urge that we look over the recent changes first and digest them before making major additions. At Herman Melville there is one apparent contradiction introduced into the first paragraph of the lead, the reintroduction of a sentence which we agreed to cut, and a misspelling in the text. The section on Writing Style has a lot of good material but in a jumbled order and is out of proportion to the article as a whole, more like a set of notes than the careful essay we are capable of. I will add this comment at Herman Melville. All the best.ch (talk) 06:46, 28 March 2015 (UTC)

I responded to this message at the TP for Herman Melville, where the message seems to belong. I realize that it will be necessary to rewrite some of the recently added material, which will require the skill of condensed writing, I mean casting the essence of the material in fewer words. This is one reason I am beginning to look forward to the GA review process: not so much the possible higher rating, but the advice and suggestions for further improvement by an experienced reviewer may enhance the quality of this page faster than otherwise. So what do you think, is it about time for a review request or not? The last GA review dates back from 2008, so it may be worth a try. Besides, nominating the article might raise other editors' awareness that this page is worked on, and they may decide it's worth the effort to help bringing everything to proportion.MackyBeth (talk) 09:07, 28 March 2015 (UTC)

Add image of whaling ship Charles W. Morgan?[edit]

A picture of the Acushnet, the Pequod's model, would be a fine addition to the page. Alas, the Acushnet was destroyed in 1853 or so, but in the vessel collection at Mystic Seaport is a ship of almost the same model, the Charles W. Morgan (ship). Worldwide, it is the only lookalike of the Acushnet still existing. Images of the ship are already uploaded on Wikimedia and Wikipedia, so I was thinking that the addition to this page of an image of that ship with an appropiate text would be worth suggesting.MackyBeth (talk) 22:25, 29 March 2015 (UTC)

Added Olsen-Smith quotation[edit]

Half a year ago or so, ch and I discussed the use of the word Censorship. A quotation justifying the use of that word is now supplied. This is not the beginning of an expansion of that section, because it has taken us a lot of work to bring down the size. Some small additions may be useful, however, since Collect was right to point out that the section should not depend on too few sources. So if it is possible to broaden the base of the section by adding a few quotes as evidence that scholarly consensus exists on Tanselle's account, why not do so?MackyBeth (talk) 17:12, 2 April 2015 (UTC)

Quality of section "Writing style"[edit]

The quality of this section has been commented upon by ch: "The section on Writing Style has a lot of good material but in a jumbled order and is out of proportion to the article as a whole, more like a set of notes than the careful essay we are capable of." I agree that this section needs revision, so that the language gets removed from the sources. It's probably the best approach to first read how other well-developed articles on novels discuss the writing style to get an idea of how to get it right. Another matter is the size of the section. The complex style of Moby-Dick cannot be discussed in full, so we may have to discuss what to leave out and what to include. The influence of Shakespeare seems (to me) an obvious inclusion (but how much space).MackyBeth (talk) 17:39, 2 April 2015 (UTC)

I'll take a stab at it, taking into account the comments from various editors, especially MackyBeth's well-taken point about Shakespeare. The sources -- Matthiessen Lee, Berthoff, Bercaw, Battenfeld -- do mention other inspirations in addition to Shakespeare, the Bible, and Homer. It may work out best to mention these three in the section's lead paragraph, then devote a paragraph or two to each of them in the body, rather than singling them out for sub-section heads. This would allow a consolidation of some of the examples, as well. I will look at the section on style in Herman Melville#Writing style, which is also full of good material which needs to be shaped and pruned.ch (talk) 19:16, 2 April 2015 (UTC)
Indeed, it probably works best by looking at both "style" sections together. The probleem with headings is this: since Shakespeare is such an overwhelming presence in the book's language, I figured that that aspect of the style would deserve a subheading of its own. But if you place anything after that without providing a new subheading, then that new item will fall under "asssimilation of Shakespeare" as well. So I had to assign "Homeric simile" its own subheading, not because I wanted to.MackyBeth (talk) 20:01, 2 April 2015 (UTC)
Update: I'm stabbing away! I've basically stayed within the existing material, rearranging and consolidating, adding some but not a great deal, and will put it up in a day or two.ch (talk)
Ah! The "trying-out" of the style section. Cheers. MackyBeth (talk) 11:18, 11 April 2015 (UTC)