A Bringer of New Things

Musings on personal growth, books, motherhood, writing, and more.

Funeral for My Attempt at Reading Moby-Dick


Well, I tried. I really did. But I just couldn’t finish reading Moby-Dick by Herman Melville.

My best friend advised me that life is too short to read books you don’t enjoy, even if they are major titles in the canon of Western literature. This was a very convincing argument, and my decision was sealed when she added that in her opinion (having read the book herself), the highlight of the whole book is at the beginning, when Ishmael and Queequeg become friends. I was long past that scene and hanging on through some incredibly boring ship scenes, trying to stifle curses at the narrator for his maddeningly in-depth discussions of tedious details, and desperately hoping the story would get interesting soon. But apparently it doesn’t, and anyway it’s no good to grit my teeth through a book when there are so many others to really enjoy.

So, now I’m jumping ship. Cliff notes will do for the rest of the story.

For final words of eulogy to this somehow-classic work of literature, I share a quote that touched me, from when Ishmael begins to see Queequeg in a friendly light: “Yet see how elastic our stiff prejudices grow when love once comes to bend them.”

Farewell, whalers.

2 comments on “Funeral for My Attempt at Reading Moby-Dick

  1. Margaret Agard
    August 14, 2013

    It’s the only book I couldn ‘t finish. Or maybe now it’s the first one I couldn’t finish. I didn’t even like the movie.


  2. anonymous
    August 14, 2013

    Mazel tov for your mindful discretion, your Right Effort, and your courage to call it what it is, despite the looming doctrine of the Establishment!

    The quote you offered at the end covered me in chills. That surely mitigates the boredom you did endure. I hadn’t managed to salvage that treasure from among the dross, and I thank you for it.

    As your best friend, I feel better now about having slogged through the whole thing, since I could thus offer you my confident opinion that there was no good reason to carry on with it. Your not wasting any more time makes my mistake worth something.

    Self-flagellation takes many forms, no?


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This entry was posted on August 14, 2013 by in Discoveries from Learning and tagged , , , .
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