First Lines: Moby Dick

It seemed like a good idea at the time. But with hindsight being 20/20, I would never, in my life, ever, absolutely no way, make the same mistake again. Greater readers and more knowledgeable people than I am will surely disagree, but to me, Herman Melville’s Moby Dick, or, The Whale is a slog, a yawn-fest, and an unreadable novel as well.

As we all know, Moby Dick is the tale of Ismael, who sets out to go a-whaling on the whaling-ship Perquod, under the mysterious captain Ahab, who lost his leg while trying to kill the White Whale Moby Dick, and who seeks revenge. And in the meantime absolutely nothing whatsoever happens.

Melville bores us till death with detailed minutiae and wandering asides, and every other chapter seems to be an seemingly endless lecture on the finer aspects of the glorious whaling-business. Unless you are interested in that sort of stuff — I most certainly am not — it gets very old very fast.

If, like me, you have the noble ambition to take on Moby Dick: don’t bother. It is so not worth the effort. Just read chapter 54: The Town-Ho’s Story, which is the tale within a tale of a ship meeting that white Leviathan, and failing to kill it. But unlike the rest of the book, it is fairly readable.

Book read
Herman Melville — Moby Dick, or, The Whale
First line
Call me Ishmael.