It is in line with the perversity of my nature that one of my favourite places in Scotland is Dundee. Aside from its many qualities, one aspect of understanding the city is to know about its history of whaling. (http://www.fdca.org.uk/Whaling_Industry.html) The McManus Galleries (http://www.mcmanus.co.uk/) has excellent displays on the subject, and it was here first in 1981 that I gave any serious thought to whales. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Whale) Sad to relate, humans have massacred these great ocean dwellers over centuries for their meat, blubber and oil. As marine mammals possessing a large brain it is highly probable that the method of their killing causes excruciating pain and suffering. I often wondered what it might be like to be a whale. So it was with great interest that I came across this book by Philip Hoare (http://www.philiphoare.co.uk/)

Hoare gives us the story of a man’s obsession with whales. It is a story which takes him on a personal, historical and biographical journey – from his childhood to his fascination with Moby Dick and his excursions whale-watching. All his life, the author has been obsessed by whales, from the gigantic skeletons in London’s Natural History Museum to adult encounters with the wild animals themselves. Whales have a mythical quality – they seem to elide with dark fantasies of sea-serpents and antediluvian monsters that swim in our collective unconscious. In ‘Leviathan, Or the Whale’, Hoare seeks to locate and identify this obsession. What impelled Melville to write ‘Moby Dick’? After his book in 1851, no one saw whales in quite the same way again.

I think you will enjoy this investigation into these dark, shadowy creatures who swim below the depths, only to surface in a spray of spume. More than the story of the whale, it is also the story of our own human obsessions.

Enquire at your local library or consult http://www.amazon.co.uk/Leviathan-Philip-Hoare/dp/0007230133/ref=tmm_hrd_title_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1452442717&sr=8-1 for full bibliographic detail.


Get in the mood by listening to Judy Collins sing ‘Farewell to Tarwathie’ (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qV29xK2xyZ4)




448 pages in Fourth Estate

First published 2008

ISBN  978-0007230136



Philip Hoare


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