See Mammals: Emilio Salgari – “The Whalers”

There are many, many encounters with the animal kingdom in Emilio Salgari’s “I Pescatori de Balene.” (Literally translated, that’s “The Whale Fishers.” But whales aren’t fish! They’re sea-mammals! It should be “CACCIATORI de Balene”! “Whale Hunters”!)

N-e-way, two Norwegian sailors shipwrecked in the Arctic waste run into polar bears, walruses, seals, foxes, and even rabid Eskimos. But there is almost no whale action in the novel. One time they sort of see a narwhal in the distance. It’s like a budget-cutting version of Herman Melville’s “Moby Dick.”

ABOVE: CACCIATORI!

EXOTIC SETTING: The Artic.

HEROES and VILLAINS: Don’t remember them two minutes after closing the book.

MASCOTS: Flappy the seal.

TOPICS OF INTEREST: Rabid Eskimos.

MEAN ANIMALS: Rabid Eskimos.

BIZARRE MOMENT: Rabid Eskimos.

GEM OF DIALOGUE: “Koninson, it would appear that we have been trapped in an underground cave and our lungs are beginning to hurt, our hands are shaking, and I wager your vision is growing dark, the same as mine, which are all symptoms of oxygen loss, so I recommend that we conserve our breath until we find a suitable way to escape this dangerous situation.”

CULTURAL/RACIAL INSENSITIVITY: “We are Norwegians, and we do not give up! We are not one like those cowardly, unmanly Swedes!”

TWIST: NO WHALES!

So to make up for that deficiency, here’s a big fat whale:

ABOVE: “Willy,” “Dick”… How come all whales have such suspiciously phallic names…?

RATING: SHRUG

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