When Donald Finnerly, a graduate student in the Literary Arts department, sat down this Sunday to grade the latest batch of short stories from his Fiction I class, one of the pieces jogged his memory.
"I couldn't tell what it was at first, but I knew it was good because I didn't know at least five words on the first page," remarked Finnerly, who has read many chapter books above the third grade level, "Then I remembered that one whale movie."
"Moby-Dick" was the conspicuous title that appeared on the front of the 650-page manuscript that Justin Gorsby '14 recently turned in for his Fiction I final. It was only after safe-search Googling the paper's title that Finnerly was able to verify that it was the same text.
As Finnerly described, "It was the same whale one, the movie one, but like, word for word and in book mode. What a crazy coincidence!"
According to Professor Angus Rhineheart, chair of the Literary Arts department, Gorsby's whale one was also the same one written by 19th Century anti-transcendentalist Herman Melville, though American audiences know it better through its 1956 film adaptation by the same title.
Gorsby, however, claims to have "never even heard of Moby-Dick or whatever" before the idea "popped" into his head one night. Three days later Gorsby had unknowingly rewritten what is widely considered one of the greatest books of all time.
Once Rhineheart verified that it was identical to Melville's, he contacted Gorsby, who insisted that he had written the novel with "no prior knowledge" of its existence whatsoever.
"What a crazy coincidence," said Rhineheart. "The boy is clearly a literary genius. He's also incredibly brave considering how controversial the book was and, in many ways, still is."
Not since Edwidge Danticat has the Literary Arts department been so pleased with a student's writing. With Gorsby's "Moby-Dick" set to hit stores in late December, the author has insisted on taking some time off from school, devoting himself completely to his writing.
Gorsby's latest drafts include "The Last of the Mohicans," "Goodnight Moon," and a tragicomedy in two acts tentatively entitled the Bible. When asked whether he had ever heard of the original versions of these books, Gorsby replied, "I have never read a book in my life."