Moby-Dick or, The Whale

Review by Michael Connery

Call me Ishmael. It is one of the most noted lines in literary history. Thus begins Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick, a classic in America’s literary body.

The Written Word

Ignoring prophecies of doom, the seafarer Ishmael joins the crew of a whaling expedition that is an obsession for the ship’s captain, Ahab. Once maimed by the White Whale, Moby Dick, Ahab has set out on a voyage of revenge. With godlike ferocity, he surges into dangerous waters—immune to the madness of his vision, refusing to be bested by the forces of nature.

An exhilarating whaling yarn, an apocalyptic theodicy, a tragic confessional, and a profound allegory, Moby Dick encompasses all that it means to be human—from the physical and metaphysical to the spiritual and emotional. Full of strange wisdom and wild digressive energy, it’s a singular literary performance universally regarded as one of the great American novels.


Review by Michael Connery

Call me Ishmael. It is one of the most noted lines in literary history. Thus beginsHerman Melville’s Moby-Dick, a classic in America’s literary body…

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The Beginning of the Turnpike Roads in Georgian England

ReginaJeffers's Blog

Hyde_park_turnpike_toll_gate The Hyde Park Gate in London, erected by the Kensington Turnpike Trust. This was the first toll point encountered along the Bath Road, upon leaving London. ~ Public Domain ~ Turnpike_trusts#/media/ File:Hyde_park_turnpike_toll_ gate.jpg

 The roads leading into London were placed under the control of individual turnpike trusts during the first 30 years of the 1700s in England. My mid century, cross-routes were added to the list under turnpike trusts. The roads, especially those leading toward Wales and the northwestern shires were turnpiked, many roads placed under the same trust authority. Roads, for example in the southern sections of Wales were grouped by counties under a single trust for each. The 1770s saw connecting roads, those over bridges, and those leading to growing industrial areas, as well as the roads in Scotland brought under the auspices of trust authorities. More than 1000 turnpike trusts were created during the 1800s. According…

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The Early Origins of the Novel

ReginaJeffers's Blog

In the mid to late 1700s, the novel, as a means of literary expression developed to an art form. In many of the Regency-based romances that I read, it speaks of the “novel” being something females might read, rather than a male. However, I doubt that many of my contemporary writer understand how “debased” those early tales were. Most of the stories dealt with fornication, rape, incest, adultery, seduction, polygamy, and voyeurism. Some of the early novels were Defoe’s Moll Flanders (1722), Richardson’s Clarrisa, Fielding’s Tom Jones, and Sterne’s Tristram Shandy.

One of the greatest writers of all times, Jane Austen, read Richardson quite often. According to her nephew, James-Edward Austen-Leigh, her knowledge of Samuel Richardson “was such as no one is likely again to acquire . . . Every circumstance narrated in Sir Charles Grandison, all that was said or done in the cedar parlour…

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Poetry in Bloom: “The Lady of Shalott”

before the second sleep

Today we start our New Year’s resolution a mite early with a series-in-development, one that gives us a space here at Before the Second Sleep to advance more deeply into the realm of poetry, territory we’ve not had much previous occasion to explore. Given our love of poetry and the enormous opportunities one has as poet as well as reader, we have decided it is high time to move forward.

The Lady of Shalott Looking at Lancelot, one of three interpretations of the character by John William Waterhouse via Wikimedia Commons

It is fitting to open with Alfred, Lord Tennyson’s “The Lady of Shalott,” partly owing to our considerable affection for all things Arthurian, going back to childhood. This new direction has also been inspired in part by a review upcoming, for a “retelling and metamorphosis” of the ballad.

The works of Tennyson, Poet Laureate for over 40 years…

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The Breath of God

Michael Connery at The Written Word reviews The Breath of God by Paul Feenstra

The Written Word


Believing God speaks to him through the archangel Gabriel, and anointed with powers, Te Ua unites his people through a common cause. He is determined to drive the imperial oppressors from Maori land and return New Zealand to the righteous.

In early 1860’s New Zealand, the beautiful region of Taranaki is engulfed in a brutal land war. Continuing with its unpopular policy, the New Zealand government, bolstered by British soldiers, seeks punitive and severe action against rebel Maori who openly resist the Government’s determined effort to confiscate their lands.

With regular army forces ill equipped to fight in the wilderness, the specialist highly trained ‘Forest Rangers’ are tasked to pursue rebel Maori deep into the rugged bush clad hills.

The Rangers newest recruit, Moana (Ira) Rangitira, a veteran of the Crimean war, shows remarkable and unusual skills, Maori fear and call him, ‘The ghost who walks’. Ira faces challenges…

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Eleven Questions…

Of Quills & Vellum: Interview with Antoine Vanner

Of Quills & Vellum

With Antoine Vanner

Antoine 16.02 Preferred (1)

Tell me your story.

As a student I made maximum use of my long vacations by working and traveling in Europe and the Middle East, experiences that triggered my determination to seek a career in international business. This involved, in due course, over 36 years, work and residence in eight countries, with shorter jobs or assignments in a dozen others and in yet more in the thirteen years since then. As an engineering graduate I started out with the conviction that “Nothing is impossible”, and so it proved in every aspect of my work, whether as a technologist and project manager early on, or later as a senior executive with one of the largest multinationals. Much of my career consisted as much of “adventures” as of“experience” and my late first wife – clever, fearless and beautiful, a force of nature – and I were especially lucky to…

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The Good Daughter by Karin Slaughter

For Winter Nights has reviewed Karin Slaughter’s latest thriller, The Good Daughter.

For winter nights - A bookish blog

HarperCollins | 2017 (13 July) | 512p | Review copy | Buy the book

The Good Daughter by Karin SlaughterTwenty-eight years ago Charlie Quinn’s life was ripped to pieces around her. Her father Rusty, a defence attorney, was notorious in the small town of Pikeville for his defence in court of the indefensible. As a result, his wife, known as Gamma, paid the ultimate price during a vengeful attack on their family home. Gamma was shot dead, Charlie’s elder sister Sam was shot and left for dead in a stream and Charlie herself had to run for her life. She did survive but that day could never be forgotten and its effect on her relationships could never be underestimated, even all these years later as she makes her own name as a lawyer, following in her father’s footsteps, always the good daughter.

Pikeville is hit by violence again. A shooting at the school leaves two…

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