Tuesday, November 14, 2017

This Day in History*

*November 14th, 1851

On this calendar date, one hundred and sixty-six years ago, Harper & Brothers in New York published Moby Dick by Herman Melville.


Many consider it one of the Great Books in the canon of western literature, certainly of North American books.


Confession: I never read it.


I even knew one of Melville direct descendants, the lovely Meredith Melville. I never admitted to her that I hadn’t read it. I had no excuse. I did read much longer books that book lovers think are must-reads (Yes, War and Peace) and I can’t say that whaling and fishermen are a turn off (The Old Man and the Sea, I did read that one) and really, I have no idea why some great books have escaped the net of my youthful reading, when either the schools I attended or my love of reading drove my cart. Some books just slipped by, and then slipped off.


Like Moby Dick.


But something has changed in me as the years accumulated. I no longer feel I should, or would. I can’t explain that, either. No excuses or “someday.” Call me Ishmael if you need to. That’s fine.


What great books have you not read? Do you still think you will?


&Happy Birthday, MOBY DICK&



14 comments:

  1. I have never read The Sound and the Fury by Faulkner. And at this point, I probably won't, not because I wouldn't like to, but because there are so many books I want to read first, and there's only so much time. I did read Moby Dick in college, though, and I also saw the movie (the script was by Ray Bradbury, whose writing I love.)) Moby Dick is a great story, but a taxing read, so I understand your reluctance.

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    1. We prioritize. But really, I don't have a good excuse for good old Moby.

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  2. I haven't read The Great Gatsby or Moby Dick and don't plan to. Too many other important things to do with my life. :)

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    1. The Great Gatsby, at least, is one of our shortest classics.:) Less than 50,000 words.

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  3. I read Moby-Dick because I studied it in university. I can't say I liked it. Melville did write much better books.

    Pride and Prejudice and War and Peace. I did start both. P&P was sooooo sloooooow and boring and W&P's multiple names for the same person was confusing.

    About 10 years ago, I let go of the idea that I had to finish every book I started. Now if it doesn't hold my interest I start on something else.

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    1. P &P is one I've read twice, so you won't have to ;)
      W & P should be read with a pen and paper nearby, to keep track of the MANY characters and plotlines. It miraculously does come together, but requires faith.

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  4. Haha! Isn't it great getting older? We are grown up and don't have to read what we don't want. I had to read Moby Dick in high school and I didn't get it and don't plan to read it again to see why it's such an important book. Too many other books to read.

    I started Gone with the Wind but then got distracted and I want to read this classic! Must pull it out again. I read MM's lesser known work Lost Laysen. Fascinating. Similar themes as GWTW.

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    1. Let me know, Vijaya, if Gone with the Wind suffices as a movie. For me, that is what it is. The few paragraphs I have glimpsed of Margaret Mitchell's writing did not beckon.

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  5. I read Moby Dick twice in college, first for a class on American novels and then for a class on Hawthorne, Melville, and Dickinson. I'm very fond of it. I have never read War and Peace and feel no interest in it. The Russians don't grab me. I've read many classics and skipped plenty of them. I have yet to read Ulysses but hope to do so. I love A Portrait of the Artist As A Young Man.

    Love,
    Janie

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    1. You've reminded me of another I haven't read, but read plenty about...

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  6. I admit I own the book but never read the entire thing. *Hangs head in shame* My daughter used to take it off my shelf and pretend to read it before she could read. I'm not sure what it was that drew her to that book so often, but she loved it.

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    1. Ayla would be a good source of insight into why some physical books just call us even before we can read them. The spine? The feel of it? If I were a publisher or book designer, I would want to know.
      Really old books have this affect on me. Hardcovers that were made of heavy acid-free paper and have sewn (not glued) pages with cloth on the covers and gold leaf edges... I just want to leaf through even if the content is about sewer systems under London in the 19th century. I had one of those for many years.

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  7. I love classics and have read many of those mentioned in the comments, but like you, I've never read Moby Dick. It's one of those books you hear so much about that sometimes I have to stop and think: Did I read it? But no, I didn't. My daughter recently plowed through it and found it a little slow. She said Moby Dick wasn't a 'straight' story. Instead it would often digress into other thoughts, such as explaining the different types of whales, for example. Although, as I type this I'm thinking perhaps the tangents were used as a form of pacing, an attempt to build tension.

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    1. And so, Marcia, your daughter knows more than we do about different types of whales because she plowed through.;)

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