Did Jonah Really Get Swallowed by a Whale?

In this unexpectedly lyrical piece, Ben Shattuck tries to figure out if anyone in human history has ever been swallowed by a whale, then emerged days later in one piece to tell about it.

I’d like to believe in swallowings, but it’s tough. There is no air in the stomach, for one. There are acids. And if we are talking about sperm whales, which we are most of the time, there is the deadly passage through the 30-foot jaws lined with 8-inch teeth.

Still, you’d like to think it’s possible. You want to believe in an animal that can fit you inside them — that you might be consumed not piece-by-piece, mouthful-by-mouthful as sharks and bears would eat you, but wholly; to be encased as your full self, womb-like.

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