27 Before 27: Read Moby Dick

2 Dec

In my 27th year of life, I’m attempting to do 27 new things. Full list here.

Before I read “Moby Dick,” I read “Anna Karenina.” A friend and I decided to read it together, taking on a part a week and discussing it with each other. We were both inspired to read it because of the Keira Knightley movie version that is coming out. I typically enjoy the classics. I’m a huge fan of Shakespeare, Dickens, Austen, Twain. I was that nerd in high school English that loved every last book we read. But for some reason, I really didn’t like “Anna Karenina.” I tried to. But I just didn’t particularly like any of the characters, and the huge chunks about Russian agrarian society was somewhat tedious.

This is when I started reading “Moby Dick.” When I would finish a part in “Anna Karenina” before my scheduled meeting with my friend, I would start in on “Moby Dick.” And I loved it. It was such a necessary change of pace. Herman Melville’s language is so full of images and smells and sounds. It puts you directly in the Nantucket whaling community. And Queequeg! The tattooed foreigner that Ishmael quickly befriends? Loved him. The scene where they are spooning the morning after they meet, adorable. I found myself rushing through “Anna Karenina” so I could get back to “Moby Dick.”

So at last I finished the Tolstoy torture and could fully dedicate myself to “Moby Dick.” This, of course, coincided with reading the part in the book where Melville goes on and on and on and on about whale anatomy and references to whales in literature. It was long-winded, and I honestly didn’t really read all of it. I skimmed over most of it. I mean there were pages of different scientific names for breeds of whales. Really?

All in all, it’s an amazing book, if you cut out the lists and the explanations. If you did that, it would probably be more of a novella. But it made me laugh, it pulled me in. I missed my subway stop while I was reading the end. So dramatic and exciting. Will I ever read it again, though? Nope. Probably not.

Consider the subtleness of the sea; how its most dreaded creatures glide under water, unapparent for the most part, and treacherously hidden beneath the loveliest tints of azure….. Consider all this; and then turn to this green, gentle , and most docile earth; consider them both, the sea and the land; and do you not find a strange analogy to something in yourself?”

One Response to “27 Before 27: Read Moby Dick”

  1. wiseone December 2, 2012 at 9:46 pm #

    In no living thing are the lines of beauty more exquisitely defined than in the crescentic
    borders of these flukes.

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