Friday, January 28, 2011

MOBY-DICK, Page 551

Title: ...then all collapsed, and the great shroud of the sea rolled on as it rolled five thousand years ago.

12 inches by 8.25 inches
ink on watercolor paper
January 24, 2011


  1. Beautiful, and perfect.

    Honestly, I was hoping this would be your passage to end the narrative. The edition I have puts the epilogue on the same page, so I was torn between hoping for something from that, or this passage. I'm glad that you have them separated. Best of luck tomorrow, and congratulations.

  2. James, yes! It really had to end this way, didn't it? In my head, I went over and over what to do with this page. Bill Sienkiwicz, in the Classics Illustrated comic edition of "Moby-Dick" has a gorgeous two page painting titled "The Great Shroud" of a murky, inky-black sea with the faintly hinted at shadow of a white whale tale plummeting to the depths. I liked that, but I felt that the blackness and the fear and the terror and the violence of that was contradictory to what Melville was really saying with these last lines. The point is that after all the bloodshed and killing and fury and death, the sea closes in and all is as it has been for millennia. The surface is calm - maybe terrifyingly so, but still a blank and swelling sheet of blue. I just felt it was essential to do this second to last page this way. I have had something in mind for the epilogue for months as well and I think it bookends the illustrations perfectly.

  3. The blankness is absolutely right. Beautiful, beautiful image.

  4. Also, the harsh, flat light of the tropical sun adds to the bland implacability of the sea.


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