Moby-Dick, or The WhaleHerman Melville
“Call me Ishmael” is not how Moby-Dick begins. Rather, the book opens with a scene of dusty old books, a pervading sense of mortality, and a collection of quotations about whales supplied by a “sub-sub-Librarian.” As Curator of the History of Science Collections, I could now supply such quotations myself. Yet decades ago, Melville hooked me with his deft reflections upon the noblest obscurities. Dozens of quotations, marked by dog-eared pages, awakened my recognition of life as a drama on a scale of utmost grandeur and signficance. Moby-Dick is truly the first American epic.
From Books That Inspire 2009.