Nov 14 2010

On This Day in History: November 14

This is your morning Open Thread. Pour your favorite beverage and review the past and comment on the future.

November 14 is the 318th day of the year (319th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 47 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1851, the novel Mobey Dick is published. Moby Dick, a novel by Herman Melville about the voyage of the whaling ship Pequod, is published by Harper & Brothers in New York. Moby Dick is now considered a great classic of American literature and contains one of the most famous opening lines in fiction: “Call me Ishmael.” Initially, though, the book about Captain Ahab and his quest for a giant white whale was a flop.

Moby-Dick is widely considered to be a Great American Novel and a treasure of world literature. The story tells the adventures of the wandering sailor Ishmael, and his voyage on the whaleship Pequod, commanded by Captain Ahab. Ishmael soon learns that Ahab seeks one specific whale, Moby Dick, a ferocious, enigmatic white sperm whale. In a previous encounter, the whale destroyed Ahab’s boat and bit off his leg. Ahab intends to take revenge.

In Moby-Dick, Melville employs stylized language, symbolism, and metaphor to explore numerous complex themes. Through the main character’s journey, the concepts of class and social status, good and evil, and the existence of gods are all examined as Ishmael speculates upon his personal beliefs and his place in the universe. The narrator’s reflections, along with his descriptions of a sailor’s life aboard a whaling ship, are woven into the narrative along with Shakespearean literary devices such as stage directions, extended soliloquies and asides. The book portrays insecurity that is still seen today when it comes to non-human beings along with the belief that these beings understand and act like humans. The story is based on the actual events around the whaleship Essex, which was attacked by a sperm whale while at sea and sank.

Moby Dick has been classified as American Romanticism. It was first published by Richard Bentley in London on October 18, 1851, in an expurgated three-volume edition titled The Whale, and weeks later as a single volume, by New York City publisher Harper and Brothers as Moby Dick; or, The Whale on November 14, 1851. Although the book initially received mixed reviews, Moby Dick is now considered part of the Western canon.

 1533 – Conquistadors from Spain under the leadership of Francisco Pizarro arrive in Cajamarca, Inca empire

1770 – James Bruce discovers what he believes to be the source of the Nile

1862 – American Civil War: President Abraham Lincoln approves General Ambrose Burnside’s plan to capture the Confederate capital at Richmond, Virginia, leading to the Battle of Fredericksburg.

1889 – Pioneering female journalist Nellie Bly (aka Elizabeth Cochrane) begins a successful attempt to travel around the world in less than 80 days. She completes the trip in seventy-two days.

1910 – Aviator Eugene Ely performs the first take off from a ship in Hampton Roads, Virginia. He took off from a makeshift deck on the USS Birmingham in a Curtiss pusher.

1918 – Czechoslovakia becomes a republic.

1921 – The Communist Party of Spain is founded.

1922 – The BBC begins radio service in the United Kingdom.

1923 – Kentaro Suzuki completes his ascent of Mount Iizuna.

1940 – World War II: In England, the city of Coventry is heavily bombed by German Luftwaffe bombers. Coventry Cathedral is almost completely destroyed.

1941 – World War II: The aircraft carrier HMS Ark Royal sinks due to torpedo damage from U-81 sustained on November 13.

1952 – The first regular UK singles chart published by the New Musical Express.

1957 – The Apalachin Meeting outside Binghamton, New York is raided by law enforcement, and many high level Mafia figures are arrested.

1965 – Vietnam War: The Battle of the Ia Drang begins – the first major engagement between regular American and North Vietnamese forces.

1967 – The Congress of Colombia, in commemoration of the 150 years of the death of Policarpa Salavarrieta, declares this day as “Day of the Colombian Woman”.

1969 – Apollo program: NASA launches Apollo 12, the second manned mission to the surface of the Moon.

1970 – Soviet Union enters ICAO, making Russian the fourth official language of organization.

1970 – Southern Airways Flight 932 crashes in the mountains near Huntington, West Virginia, killing 75, including members of the Marshall University football team.

1971 – Enthronment of Pope Shenouda III as Pope of Alexandria

1973 – In the United Kingdom, Princess Anne marries Captain Mark Phillips, in Westminster Abbey.

1975 – Spain abandons Western Sahara.

1979 – Iran hostage crisis: US President Jimmy Carter issues Executive order 12170, freezing all Iranian assets in the United States in response to the hostage crisis.

1982 – Lech Walesa, the leader of Poland’s outlawed Solidarity movement, is released after eleven months of internment near the Soviet border.

1984 – Zamboanga City mayor Cesar Climaco, a prominent critic of the government of Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos, is assassinated in his home city.

1990 – After German reunification, the Federal Republic of Germany and the Republic of Poland sign a treaty confirming the Oder-Neisse line as the border between Germany and Poland.

1991 – American and British authorities announce indictments against two Libyan intelligence officials in connection with the downing of the Pan Am Flight 103.

1991 – Cambodian Prince Norodom Sihanouk returns to Phnom Penh after thirteen years of exile.

1991 – In Royal Oak, Michigan, a fired United States Postal Service employee goes on a shooting rampage, killing four and wounding five before committing suicide.

1995 – A budget standoff between Democrats and Republicans in the U.S. Congress forces the federal government to temporarily close national parks and museums and to run most government offices with skeleton staffs.

2001 – War in Afghanistan: Afghan Northern Alliance fighters take over the capital Kabul.

2002 – Argentina defaults on an $805 million World Bank payment.

2002 – The United States House of Representatives votes not to create an independent commission to investigate the September 11 attacks.

2003 – Astronomers Michael E. Brown, Chad Trujillo, and David L. Rabinowitz discover 90377 Sedna, a Trans-Neptunian object.

2007 – The last direct-current electrical distribution system in the United States is shut down in New York City by Con Edison.

1 comment

  1. TMC

    and a whale of a tale

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