The New Bedford Whaling Museum's Moby-Dick Marathon is an annual non-stop reading of Herman Melville's literary masterpiece. The multi-day program of entertaining activities and events is presented every January. Admission to the Marathon is free.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Anders Breivik's manifesto is like... what?!?

Listening to my never-miss podcast of On the Media tonight as Brooke Gladstone interviewed Dartmouth professor of English, Jeff Sharlet... The professor is one of the few who went to the trouble to read the entire 1500-page "manifesto" of the accused mass murderer Anders Breivik.  He also frequently writes about religion.  Sharlet describes Breivik's screed as
...a 1500-page story of the development of the mind of a killer, and he's not the same person at the end of the story as he is at the beginning.
He compares it to a work of literature, specifically Moby-Dick in that it, too, draws from disparate sources and presents a multitude of "streams" of thought.
The whale for Brevik is Islam, which he sees as vast and menacing and dangerous and beyond comprehension, yet he must keep trying ... drawing in all these sources into this sort of whirlpool of this manifesto in which some of these voices get drowned and become part of his. Now he's talking about poetry, now he's talking about the Knights Templar, and now he's talking about investment strategies to finance your project.
Do we Melvillians need to defend our beloved book here?  If we're discussing only narrative structure, Sharlet might have a point.  However, while Captain Ahab may have been a murderous character, he was a fictional construct of an author who was not a murderer.  Sadly, the same can not be said about the author of the work that has as its central character Anders Breivik.

Listen to the entire interview here.

1 comment: