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Hi, Moby-Dick here

March 23, 2008 |  6:00 am

Moby

(photo credit: Yoshikazu Tsuno/Getty)

Dear Publisher,

I believe that I have grounds to revise Herman Melville's "Moby-Dick" to more accurately represent what the author originally intended.

Based on research into various documents previously unknown, I have made the startling discovery that Melville intended the book to be told almost entirely from the point of view of the whale. It stands to reason that, had the modern concept of memoir been available in his era, Melville would have certainly changed the title of the book from “Moby-Dick, or The Whale” to “Moby-Dick: A Memoir.” Animals are wonderful storytellers, as has been pointed out about Matt Haig recently in the pages of Book Review.

When we meet, I can give you the rich amount of material upon which I support this drastic (I know) change to an undeniable literary classic. But I don’t believe it will lose its position as a result; in fact, it will be enhanced as such a restoration will give the world a better version of what Melville had wanted.

I count myself among a worthy line of editors—among them Matthew Bruccoli on Thomas Wolfe, Noel Polk on Robert Penn Warren and Michael A. Lofaro on James Agee (nevermind what Nina Revoyr says about him in this Sunday’s Los Angeles Times Book Review)—who have helped artists to realize what they were trying to say. Writers, in truth, are often so swept up in the "artist thing" that they forget what they're doing. Editors' feet, however, are firmly grounded.

As I said, I am near to completing my restoration of the text. I have also suggested cutting several sections of material, for example:

The section on cetology -– almost certainly these were notes which the writer used for research, not as part of the narrative.

The brief early section about the mariner Bulkington -– clearly a false start.

I have also fixed language in several places where the author unaccountably slips into dialects that muddle the passages’ meaning.

I look forward to hearing from you at your soonest opportunity. Until then, call me

Ishmael

Nick Owchar

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