The Voyage of Herman Melville’s “Moby Dick”

As I started out on my epic reading journey of Herman Melville’s Moby Dick, I wondered why I had never read it. Eventually, all became clear.

So far as what there be of a narrative in this book; and, indeed, as indirectly touching one or two very interesting and curious particulars in the habit of sperm whales, the foregoing chapter, in its earlier part, is as important a one as will be found in this volume; but the leading matter of it requires to be still further and more familiarly enlarged upon…(141)

It was an impossible read, more a meandering collection of musing on whales, whaling and nautical life than anything to do with narrative. Having already in various ways put before you the skull, spout-hole, jaw, teeth, tail, forehead, fins and diverse other parts, I shall now simply point out what is most interesting in the general bulk of his unobstructed bones. (302)

And yet, despite the ramblings, there were moments, the minutest of hooks scattered about, that made me seek the distant spout.

Nothing seemed before me but a jet gloom, now and then made ghastly by flashes of redness. Uppermost was the impression, that whatever swift, rushing thing I stood on was not so much bound to any haven ahead as rushing from all havens astern. (284)What is it, what nameless, inscrutable, unearthly thing is it; what cozening, hidden lord and master, and cruel, remorseless emperor commands me; that against all natural lovings and longings, I so keep pushing, and crowding, and jamming myself on all the time; recklessly making me ready to do what in my own proper, natural heart, I durst so much as dare? Is Ahab, Ahab? Is it I, God, or who, that lifts this arm? (357)

Until the end, at the sinking of the Pequod, the vanishing of Ahab and crew, Moby with them, when I realized I had survived just to tell the tale.

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