(chapters 1–16 ), etching
Nantucket was the island from where Ishmael, the principal character of the novel, embarked on his whale fishing journey. At the centre of the etching, there is a red map of Nantucket, which represents the original distribution of the indigenous tribes on the island. In the background, Reuvers has reproduced the title page of the first edition of Moby Dick.
Underneath the opening words of the book ‘Call me Ishmael’, there is a portrait of Melville and an old print of a whale sending a ship to the bottom.
Melville used a magical square to determine the key chapters of the book. Reuvers depicted the magic square of Jupiter with the portrait of Melville in the bottom right. The sum of the square, 136, equals the number of chapters, plus the epilogue of Moby Dick.
In The Spouter-Inn in New Bedford, Ishmael examines an array of deformed and broken whaling lances and harpoons, depicted here at the top of the etching. The harpoons were forged from soft iron so that a struck whale, in its struggle, would twist the iron, thus increasing its resistance in the water. The same effect was accomplished by attaching wooden boards to the line.