Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Call Me Ishmael

Having progressed passed the pages of epigraphs at the beginning of Moby-Dick, I couldn't even get past that epic first line, "Call me Ishmael," before I had to find out what that meant. Shmoop.com has an interesting article on why this is the first sign that Ishmael is not going to be the most forthcoming narrator. But how can you not love someone who says things like,

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... then, I account it high time to get to sea as soon as I can.

or describes a painting hanging in the inn in New Bedford while he waits for the ship to Nantucket this way:

A boggy, soggy, squitchy picture truly, enough to drive a nervous man distracted. Yet was there a sort of indefinite, half-attained, unimaginable sublimity about it that fairly froze you to it, till you involuntarily took an oath with yourself to find out what that marvellous painting meant.

or who agrees to spend the night in the same bed as a "harpooneer" when the inn is full?

Moby Dick fun fact: Moby the artist/DJ was nicknamed that because he is supposedly a descendant of Melville (and that's his middle name).

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