9

In Moby Dick there is a long chapter that is meant to be an excerpt from a textbook on whales. Did Melville compose that or was it actually copied from a textbook on whales?

  • 2
    I do not believe this question is at all on-topic for this site. I've tried to think of other sites that we could recommend migrating it to, but it is off-topic for Writer's. If anyone has other suggestions let me know. – Steven Drennon Dec 26 '14 at 23:31
  • @StevenDrennon: How about Biology, with regard to the "cetological" reference? The question (as re-written) would be, "Would a layman know this stuff, or would he need to get it from an expert – Tom Au Dec 27 '14 at 17:59
  • @twosheds:Fair enough. – Tom Au Dec 27 '14 at 20:04
  • 3
    people have been editing my question to make it be off topic. I don'c care whether Melville was able to write it (a speculative social science question), I only care whether he did actually write it ( a history question) – Clint Eastwood Dec 28 '14 at 0:55
  • 2
    This is a history question. Reopen. – Ne Mo Dec 28 '14 at 13:28
7

The Cetology of Moby Dick was written by Herman Melville, but it draws upon the works of several naturalists and anatomists of his time, including:

Both were surgeons on whaling ships, and wrote of the anatomy of whales. They, and Melville as well, further relied upon the writings of the great naturalist John Hunter, especially his Observations on the Structure and Oeconomy of Whales.

Wikipedia has an image of Melville's copy of Beale's book:

enter image description here

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.