Thursday, April 5, 2012

Call me Ishmael

When I picked Moby Dick up at a library sale I bought it mostly for its age. It was an oldish copy with gilt waves on the binding and illustrations--always a plus! I knew I ought to read it. I am always keeping a copy of Ought To Reads much as some people keep To Do List. They are no necessarily books I think I'll love, but ones I know a well-read person should have in their repertoire. I had always considered Moby Dick the sort of   book little eleven year old boys devour and coerce their older sisters into reading. But immediately upon beginning Moby Dick I was astounded--the writing is humorous, salty, and even beautiful. I have so enjoyed reading Melville's Moby Dick that I had to share some of his genius with you. Here are a few examples of Herman Melville's gilded ink:
Whenever I find myself growing grim about the mouth; whenever it is a damp, drizzly November in my soul; whenever I find myself involuntarily pausing before coffin warehouses, and bringing up the rear of every funeral I meet; and especially whenever my hypos get such an upper hand of me, that it requires a strong moral principle to prevent me from deliberately stepping into the street, and methodically knocking people's hats off--then, I account it high time to get to sea as soon as I can.


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The starred and stately nights seemed haughty dames in jewelled velvets, nursing at home in lonely pride, the memory of their absent conquering Earls, the golden helmeted suns!


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These are the times of dreamy quietude, when beholding the tranquil beauty and brilliancy of the ocean's skin, one forgets the tiger heart that pants beneath it; and would not willingly remember, that this velvet paw but conceals a remorseless fang.


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"I am ready to shiver fifty lances with you there, and unhorse you with a split helmet every time."

1 comment:

Ashley said...

I read Moby Dick when I was 8 or 9, and it was my first classical read. And even though I won't call it a favorite, I still pick it up and read favorite parts from time to time.