Lily, Achilles, Bertha & Ishmael on Vacation

Queequeg and Ishmael

Queequeg and Ishmael


I’ve been traveling for the last couple of days so today you get a quick post about travel—specifically, about the vacations that humorist Makaelia Clements thinks that different characters deserve: Thanks to Brian Joseph for alerting me to the article in The Toast. 

I chose the four I like the best and provide possible explanations:

Lily Bart, House of Mirth

A villa on the Amalfi Coast, and a envelope full of pocket money, and no company. Give Lily Bart days and weeks to spend to herself, riding a bicycle from tiny seaside town to tiny seaside town, up and down the rolling coastline, spending her days finding deserted beaches where she’d swim with nobody looking. She would find a restaurant that she liked best and every night she would go and get a table for one and sit there with a carafe of wine and eat a different item off the menu. The waiters would flirt with her, and she would flirt back, delighted, but she would never bring company, and she would have an unending supply of good books to prop up against her plate of spaghetti while she ate.

The cash-strapped Lily Bart lives an impossibly complicated life and deserves some quiet away from society. Clements appears to think that what Lily really needs is a quiet vacation spot, good food, and an unending supply of books

Achilles, The Iliad

A trip to the 21st century. Prague, maybe, or London, some big city where he can wander around being a bored tourist, snapping his gum, picking his nose in cathedrals, snapback on crooked and hopping from foot to foot, looking for a basketball court.

The joke here, I guess, is that Achilles is a spoiled jock who deserves the hellish experience (for him) of visiting a cultural center.

Bertha Mason, Jane Eyre

She goes home. On the ship crossing she stands at the prow and the wind feels like it’s ripping all the cobwebs and cold and ash out of her mind. She doesn’t sleep very much; instead she wanders the ship at night feeling out all the doorways, checking which ones open for her.

This is my favorite. Yes, the madwoman in the attic needs to return to the West Indies. Not that doing so will entirely restore her sanity.

Ishmael and Queequeg, Moby Dick

A fancy resort somewhere in Thailand. The faker the better. Give them an ocean so flat the idea of sailing is ludicrous, so clear you can see right to the bottom, and populated only with shining – and small – fish. Give them a clean, white-washed room, with a little shelf for Queeqeug’s altar and a king-size bed for the both of them.

Ah yes, Moby Dick’s homosexual subtext, initially signaled by the book’s title and followed up by passages such as this one:

Queequeg…politely motioned me to get into bed–rolling over to one side as much as to say–“I won’t touch a leg of ye.” “Good night, landlord,” said I, “you may go.” I turned in, and never slept better in my life.

And the following morning:

Upon waking next morning about daylight, I found Queequeg’s arm thrown over me in the most loving and affectionate manner. You had almost thought I had been his wife.

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  • Literature is as vital to our lives as food and shelter. Stories and poems help us work through the challenges we face, from everyday irritations to loneliness, heartache, and death. Literature is meant to mix it up with life. This website explores how it does so.

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