View Full Version : More, for you readers

11-13-2011, 01:17 PM
Some of you may remember my fascination with Moby Dick. And that's how Melville wrote it, Moby Dick.

But I found this in an article:

...For the time being, a kid from the wrong side of the tracks who knows that Finnegans Wake and Howards End have no apostrophes, or (to stay topical) that Moby-Dick does have a hyphen.....http://www.weeklystandard.com/articles/inside-whale_604169.html
Without going into discussion about which side of the tracks housed my childhood, I will confess to being ignorant of all three of those facts. And I'm pretty careful about my comas and apostrophes.

So I pulled out my leather bound, specially printed edition of Moby Dick and looked.

Melville did a lot of things that your high school English teacher may take issue with (OK, with which your teacher may take issue) like putting exclamation marks and the like in the middle of a sentence and capitalizing White Whale but he did not hyphenate Moby Dick.

So what gives? Why did this writer - he was reviewing a book - call for hyphenating Moby Dick? For that matter, why does anything other than a word at the end of a paragraph that won't fit on a line get hyphenated?

11-13-2011, 01:19 PM
I used to have a golden retriever named Starbuck.

11-13-2011, 01:59 PM
I used to have a golden retriever named Starbuck.

Yeah, but why didn't you name him Star-Buck?:)

Ranger Rick
11-13-2011, 02:46 PM
First name Moby, last name Dick. Why would it be hyphenated?

11-13-2011, 04:34 PM
First name Moby, last name Dick. Why would it be hyphenated?

I dunno. That was my question:confused:
Maybe Miss Moby & Mr Dick had a baby whale and Moby-Dick was his last name, and his first name could have been something like Clarence. But if that was the case we never would have heard of him, cause a killer whale named Clarence just wouldn't make sense.

Ranger Rick
11-13-2011, 05:03 PM
mmm... Clarence Dick: Killer Whale. I don't know, I could see that on a busness card. Or maybe a TV show.

11-13-2011, 05:46 PM
Wikipedia has the hyphen in the title page of the first American edition:


Also check out:

11-13-2011, 07:27 PM
All of us spelling/grammar nazis refer to the Index of English Usage (http://www.whichenglish.com/usage/).

BTW, the original title was "The Whale, Moby-Dick"........:D

11-13-2011, 08:00 PM
Still a puzzlement.
Sounds simple, but now that several have weighed in (or did they way in?) I have searched and found every combination; Moby Dick; Moby-Dick; and even Moby-dick.

And if all that were not enough, there is this jewel:

....A definitive collection of hyphenation rules does not exist; rather, different manuals of style prescribe different usage guidelines......
So, Melville hyphenated Moby-Dick (or did not) simply because he felt like it. Or didn't.