The Symphony Part Three

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02.01.2010, 15:28:3002.01.10

The Symphony Part Three


The astute reader referenced in part two will conclude Chapter 132 The Symphony occurs the morning of January 1, 1840, which parallels the date of this posting of not just a new year but also a new decade.


In 1840 Ahab informs the reader he is 58 years old. If we subtract 58 from 1840 we arrive at the year 1782. Captain Ahab was born in the year 1782. According to a document in the archives of the Berkshire Historical Society, Allan Melvill, Herman’s father’s birth date is presented as April 7, 1782. John Birk can take some comfort here since he lists Aries as Ahab’s astrological sign (March 21 – April 20).


We learn in The Symphony Ahab becomes a boy harpooneer at age 18. If we add 18 to 1782 we arrive at the year 1800. This is the year Allan made his first ocean voyage to Europe where he would eventually set up an export business to the United States. Another document, titled: “Recapitulations of Voyages and Travels from 1800 to 1822 both inclusive,” this document written by Allan lists 1800 as his first voyage and the year 1822 as his last. Allan then was forty years old when he made his last voyage. Recall the statement in Chapter 28 Ahab by the Gay – Head Indian with respect to Ahab’s scar: “…not till he was full forty years old did Ahab become that way branded, and then it came upon him, not in the fury of any mortal fray, but in an elemental strife at sea.” We can narrow Ahab’s strife at sea to November 9, 1822 to a major meteor shower. Melville’s treatment of meteor showers in Moby-Dick will remain for another posting.


Some may conclude Mr. Melville had issues with his father and therefore patterned Ahab after those issues. Along similar lines, Moby Dick was a whale, there is a constellation of Cetus a sea monster, Moby Dick must be represented by Cetus.  The Pequod was a sailing ship. There was the constellation of Argo, a sailing ship, the Pequod must have been represented in the sky as Argo. Mr. Melville was a world class author and a much greater artist than these simple conclusions warrant.

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