“Time after time, I see the land media refer to Moby Dick as the embodiment of evil, and, frankly, this sort of coverage disappoints me. If they keep this up, partisanship will continue to divide creatures of the sea and creatures of the land. Throughout his campaign, Captain Ahab constantly blamed someone else for his own despair, but sometimes you just have to take a look in the mirror. All the polls said that Moby Dick had no shot against Captain Ahab, but look at what happened. Ahab’s ship was destroyed in a nautical landslide. The land media, the pollsters, the crew aboard the Pequod—they all got it wrong. Now it’s time to let the large whale-beast govern.”
From “Kellyanne Conway Spins Great Works of Literature” by Bob Vulfov for The New Yorker, March 1, 2017.
We all know Moby Dick is a badass—the erstwhile Badass of the Week, in fact. He can crush a wooden whaleship with his wrinkled brow. But can he crush Black Beauty? This is the question raised by a poll running on the Guardian (UK) website through the first week of July.
Along with Moby Dick, contenders for “Best Performance by an Animal” in the newspaper’s literary poll include Buck, the half-St. Bernard, half-Scotch-Shepherd dog from Jack London’s The Call of the Wild; the unnamed bear from William Shakespeare’s The Winter’s Tale; and lapdog Jip from Charles Dickens’s David Copperfield. But it’s the autobiography-writing horse in Black Beauty who is currently giving everyone’s favorite cetacean a run for his money. In fact, the horse has been leading by a nose since the poll started a couple weeks back, albeit by just a dinky horse nose, not a mighty sperm whale’s.
Seriously: The terrifying freakish embodiment of God, death, nature, vengeance, or [insert true meaning of Moby Dick here] is up against a talking horse … and the horse is winning? Something is wrong here, my friend. Will you help make it right?
“Horse and Whale,” by Marilyn Burkhardt, used with the artist’s permission.
Margaret Guroff is the editor and publisher of Power Moby-Dick.