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first i have to say that I do enjoy this type of thing more than some, not just the Moby connection ( best novel written, with Lolita close 2nd ) but the critical essay type thing. though this is not a critical essay as such it does touch on many aspects of various interpretations and origins etc., but mainly uses the chapter structure and headings of Moby for jumping off places to talk about some aspect of the novel regarding the chapter and it's contents or the novel as a whole, focusing in general on how pervasive Moby is or has become in society ( art, comics, film etc ). Much of it I am already aware and there is much that he has missed, though it would be hard to be all-inclusive, but I do have to say that while there are aspects that started me thinking along new lines regarding a topic, his overall veracity is undermined by 2 questionable chapters, one of which is ridiculous. 1st, in chapter 84, Pitchpoling, he draws what can be at best a tenuous connection between Flaubert and Melville and I suspect that Cotkin simply wanted an excuse to include Flaubert and Madame Bovary because he likes them. But the most egregious error occurs in chapter 89, Fast Fish and Loose Fish, wherein he recounts the use of Moby in (one of many films he could have discussed) Star Trek: Wrath of Khan (valid). He completely fouls up the end of the film to the degree that either he didn't watch it, or he's relying on someone else's recounting without double checking and how this glaring error got by him, his editors, a proofreader, a fact checker etc. without anyone catching it is befuddling. And as such an error exists, it calls into question the validity and fact checking of all of his contentions for all the chapters. In reality much of the info is familiar to me but details and new areas now require validation. and the narrator is completely uninspired in his readings of quoted passages and sections from other works.
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I deeply enjoyed this entire piece. Moby Dick has long been my favorite novel, and this was an incredibly refreshing group of observations and reflections that definitely enhanced my appreciation of the original work. Highly recommended for literature nerds, victoriana dorks, and other such reclusive yet pontificating types.