Moby Dick and the Russian revolution: an intellectual bagatelle
I finished finally Moby Dick , probably the first «production» novel in the world literature. Later after Melville “production” novels became very popular in the USA and then also in Soviet Russia. Upton Sinclair ‘s Jungle or Theodore Dreiser’s novels like The Titan can be treated as the representatives of this genre but, of course particularly Artur Hailey’s numerous novels devoted to the description various sectors of American economy like Airport or Wheels which we read in 1960s with delight in Moscow . John Grisham’s novels like Firm or Client also belong to “production literature”. However, how much they all yield to Moby Dick in quality! I should non even mention best Soviet «production novels» which the party demanded from its writers like Panova’s Kruzhilikha or Nikolaieva’s Harvest. How bleak they all –American and Soviet production novels— look in comparison with Moby Dick , its passion, its philosophical and religious reflections, its historical digressions!! What stroke me however in Moby Dick it was not its production side. It was a brilliant, almost Orwellian, description of a type of revolutionary society where not only the leader, captain Ahab who looks as a revolutionary fanatic, but the whole team, or the whole nation, turned out to be devoted to a great idea— to kill the great whale in one case, or to build a just society in another. The analogy between Ahab’s utopian dream to kill the whale which became his obsession , and the utopian dreams of the Russian Bolsheviks look for me almost self-evident. It is unbelievable but even the idea of death which never quits the novel—from the beginning to the end- is very close to the spirit of the Russian revolution which always demanded from its followers be ready to die for the cause. Igor Shafarevich was very shrewd when he drew the attention to this peculiarity of the Russian revolution citing the famous line from one of the revolutionary songs —«we should all die for this cause». Indeed, all who were on “Pequod”, Ahab’s ship, died in a seemingly senseless fight with whale with the exception of the supposedly future author -Ishmael . But are not million revolutionary fanatics and those whom they managed to enroll in their also senseless fight died too? In generally. Moby Dick is an apology of irrationality if it feeds passion.
.The power of the idea is brilliantly shown in the novel. Even the most cynical members of the teams could not resist it.( While Ahab could easily use the repressive methods to enforce his will, it was his passion which conquer the sailors and made them the obeisant instrument of his design.
No rational calculations, no warnings against the attempts to realize the utopian idea could stop neither the captain, not his subordinates. It is also amusing but Ahab as much as an internationalist as Lenin. His team contained the representatives of all nations on the earth as Lenin’s Red Army or Cheka. As a true revolutionary Ahab is ascetic and demands from his sailors to get rid of l passions playing only very weakly once with a money incentive.In its asexualism Mobi Dick surpasses even the most revolutionary novels of the Russian revolution.
like Dmitry Furmanov’s Chapaev or Alexander Fadeev’s Defeat.
The comparisons between the developments on Pequot and in revolutionary Russia how exotic they look ultimately has simple explanation. The number of the models which describe human relations are very limited as well as the principles which fregulate human relations.