A Few Thoughts on Moby Dick
David Hopkins

David, I’ve tried to read through Moby Dick several times, but never could finish it. You’re right: it’s crammed with too many details about the whale. I’ve often wondered why Melville incorporated so many unnecessary things into it. Whatever the reason, it was off-putting and I always gave up reading somewhere in the middle.

But the beginning of the novel always sticks with me, and few classic novels have such a wonderful beginning.

Call me Ishmael. Some years ago — never mind how long precisely — having little or no money in my purse, and nothing particular to interest me on shore, I thought I would sail about a little and see the watery part of the world. It is a way I have of driving off the spleen, and regulating the circulation. 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.

I’m going to try Moby Dick once again. Thanks for sharing your reading experience.

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