Herman Melville (1819 – 1891), who took maritime voyages in the pursuit of whales both in his life and in his books, did not achieve literary recognition during his lifetime. In fact, Moby Dick, the novel he was most identified with, signified the decline of his writing career. However, like many other artists ahead of their time, his contemporaries disregard for his work is consistent with his renewed reception, which occurred during the 1920s, attesting to his degree of innovation and the modern nature of this great author. Moby Dick’s plot, characters, creatures and symbols, its language and ideas intertwine with the open sea, with its hidden, infinite, philosophical horizon where water meets sky and towards which Ishmael and Melville both looked longingly. Yehonatan Dayan’s reading of Melville’s book suggests experiencing the text as if it were a voyage, one accompanying the Pequod in its pursuit
of the white whale, but at the same time, the book’s deep currents pull the reader towards other voyages, towards the history of civilization and literature, to the primordial meetings between man and sea. The sea on
which Melville’s novel occurs overflows into other, distant, literal and actual seas, integrating it, feeding it into their currents. Representing these mythopoeic meetings permeates the accepted cultural images and presents a maritime, primitive likeness of man/nature with a defiant and subversive dimension—a story of the depths beneath the original tale. Aquapoetics offers a philological study of Moby Dick’s watery language,
with the author’s outline to its metaphysical doctrine.