Sentence of the Week: The Dark Side of Moby Dick


Image: Wikimedia CommonsImage: Wikimedia CommonsTwo sentences, actually. Researchers have found the remains of a ship captained by the real-life inspiration for Captain Ahab. Josh Rothman writes:

After the Essex sunk, Pollard and his men drifted around the Pacific for weeks, eventually resorting to cannibalism – Pollard ate his own cousin. Incredibly, he went back out to sea, only to have his second ship run afoul of a reef off the coast of Hawaii.

Whoops! The initial reacton here is to wonder, “Why did he go back to sea?” but when you think about it, it doesn’t seem like Pollard had much of a choice. Cannibalism may not have been expressly forbidden in 19th-century Nantucket, but it was certainly frowned upon. Under normal circumstances, one’s family might be the group that’s most likely to look past such an episode, except in this case Pollard had literally consumed his cousin (Worst. Lifetime movie. Ever). If not broached with a certain level of tact, that’s the type of thing that can really tear a family apart.

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  • Tim Murphy

    Tim Murphy is a senior reporter at Mother Jones. Reach him at tmurphy@motherjones.com.