Ahab's Rolling Sea, with Richard King

Thursday, November 14th, 2019, 6 p.m.

Richard J King sails in to Gibson's to present Ahab's Rolling Sea: A Natural History of "Moby-Dick", a book sure to delight the naturalists among us.

Although Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick is beloved as one of the most profound and enduring works of American fiction, we rarely consider it a work of nature writing—or even a novel of the sea. Yet Pulitzer Prize–winning author Annie Dillard avers Moby-Dick is the “best book ever written about nature,” and nearly the entirety of the story is set on the waves, with scarcely a whiff of land. In fact, Ishmael’s sea yarn is in conversation with the nature writing of Emerson and Thoreau, and Melville himself did much more than live for a year in a cabin beside a pond. He set sail: to the far remote Pacific Ocean, spending more than three years at sea before writing his masterpiece in 1851.

A revelation for Moby-Dick devotees and neophytes alike, Ahab’s Rolling Sea is a chronological journey through the natural history of Melville’s novel. From white whales to whale intelligence, giant squids, barnacles, albatross, and sharks, Richard J. King examines what Melville knew from his own experiences and the sources available to a reader in the mid-1800s, exploring how and why Melville might have twisted what was known to serve his fiction.

About the author: Richard J. King is visiting associate professor of maritime literature and history at the Sea Education Association in Woods Hole, Massachusetts. For more than twenty years he has been sailing and teaching aboard tall ships in the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. He writes and illustrates a column on marine animals for Sea History magazine, edits the “Searchable Sea Literature” website, and was the founding series editor of Seafaring America. He is the author of Lobster and The Devil’s Cormorant: A Natural History. For more information, visit http://www.richardjking.info/.

Event date: 
Thursday, November 14, 2019 - 6:00pm
Event address: 
45 South Main Street
Concord, NH 03301
Ahab's Rolling Sea: A Natural History of
$30.00
ISBN: 9780226514963
Availability: Coming Soon - Available for Pre-Order Now
Published: University of Chicago Press - November 11th, 2019

Although Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick is beloved as one of the most profound and enduring works of American fiction, we rarely consider it a work of nature writing—or even a novel of the sea.


Lobster (Animal) Cover Image
$19.95
ISBN: 9781861897954
Availability: Special Order
Published: Reaktion Books - May 15th, 2011

Other than that it tastes delicious with butter, what do you know about the knobbily-armoured, scarlet creature staring back at you from your fancy dinner plate? From ocean to stock pot, there are two sides to every animal story. For instance, since there are species of lobsters without claws, how exactly do you define a lobster?


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